Mental Health: “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being”. The verdict is still out on whether social media is damaging to the mental health of teens. This is in part due to the lack of research. Some studies show that online connections with small groups of people can be beneficial to teens, while other research points to a rise in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. The other reason it’s difficult to get a good read on the issue is that social media is constantly changing and evolving.
While teens can use social media to connect and create friendships with others, they also confront cyberbullying, trolls, toxic comparisons, sleep deprivation, and less frequent face-to-face interactions, to name a few. Here are a few examples of how social media is so detrimental to our mental health. First off, there is the need to get the most amount of likes on their post. To gain likes, teens will generally try and alter their looks and appearance. They would use filters or other things to change their appearance. This could lead to the lost of identity as people pretend to be and look like someone else. To continue, people oftenly post and after say go like and comment on my post or catch you’ll catch an unfollow. I, a teenager has experienced this myself. On instagram, after my friends post, they say go like and comment or i’ll unfollow you. This creates a toxic environment because people don’t want to lose followers and they feel threatened. In addition, people often post the positives in their lives soo when people see it, they are like “wow, they have such a great life and I wish i had that.” People feel sad and depressed after that. Studies have shown in 2016, an estimated of 44.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the US had a mental illness. Young adults aged 18-25 had the highest prevalence of any mental illness at 22.1% compared to adults aged 26-49 at 21.1% and aged 50 and older at 14.5%(Center4Research). Additionally, we can’t forget about cyberbullying. Since technology and social media are advancing so much, cyberbullying has increased. Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.. These facts emphasize my point even more that social media can lead to cyberbullying. It can create depression, anxiety and even suicide if extreme. Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.
All in all, i believe there’s a happy medium in here somewhere. The key to helping teens learn to balance social media with real life friendships is to keep the lines of communication open and keep talking. Disconnect on weekends and show your teen that there is a whole world out there besides screens. They may miss their phones a lot but it’s an important to teach this lesson.
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- Center for Research on Women and Gender. (2018). Mental Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.center4research.org/mental-health-studies/mental-health-statistics/