How Does Social Media Affect Teenagers?

Alyssa Mori, Staff Writer

How does social media affect teenagers? In our generation and society today, social media can be used as a tool to help with what is going on in our  world today, connecting our lost family members, keeping people connected, etc. But with everything else in the world there’s always a flaw with everything. For social media, it allows for us to many things but it does affect us negatively especially with our teens. How do you may ask? Well, one is that it causes depression, second it affects their social skills with the society third is anxiety. These three are just one of the few effects on teens but there is more to it.  

The effects of social media through our teens or generation in out today’s life. Does social media make teens more anxious and depressed? This has become one of the more controversial questions regarding teen use of technology, with studies showing varied results. Many experts believe that the constant overstimulation of social networking shifts the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode. As a result, this makes disorders such as ADHD, teen depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and teen anxiety worse. This is borne out by a large body of research linking teenagers’ use of social media with increased teen depression. These studies show that the frequency of a teen’s use of social media has a clear correlation to their mental health. For example, in a 2018 study, 14- to 17-year-olds who used social media seven hours per day were more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with depression, treated by a mental health professional, or taken medication for a psychological or behavioral issue during the last year. This was compared to those who used screens only about an hour a day.

The study of technology use links to depression. Additional surveys of US adolescents show that teen depressive symptoms and suicide rates increased between 2010 to 2015, especially among females. Researchers noted that the increase in social media and overall screen use between those years could account for these changes. Moreover, these surveys showed that adolescents who spent more time on social media were more likely to report mental health issues. Meanwhile, teens who spent more time on non-screen activities, such as in-person social interaction, sports, exercise, homework, and print media, were less likely to report these issues. Besides, a CNN study, of 13-year-old teenagers and social media found that participants who checked Facebook or other networking sites between 50 and 100 times a day were 37 percent more distressed than those who checked just a few times a day. Those who checked more than 100 times a day were 47 percent more distressed on average. 

One way in which social media undermines teen mental health is through social comparison. Teenagers on social media spend much of their time observing the lives and images of their peers. Therefore, this leads to constant comparisons. And this can damage self-esteem and body image. Moreover, it can lead to depression. Online social comparison is associated with depressive symptoms among adolescents, particularly teen girls. As with other types of social comparison, teens report lower self-esteem and self-evaluation when looking at peers on Facebook and other social media sites. For example, this includes looking at profiles on which peers post about their healthy habits, fun social events, or accomplishments. And teens felt better about themselves when they make so-called “downward comparisons”—looking at profiles of peers with fewer friends and achievements. According to the most recent Pew Research Center report on the effect of social media on teenagers, 43 percent of teenagers say they feel pressure to only post content on social media that makes them look good to others. Furthermore, 26 percent of teens say these sites make them feel worse about their own life. 

After explaining these effects on our teens, I hope I was able to explain the effects, but these are just one of the few things about social media that’s negative. There’s so much more to it in our society of how it affects our teens. But after reading this please act in helping with our teens this is something that shouldn’t be a problem with our society there more major problems in this world like climate change, global warming and our water pollution, these things are things that will affect us and our world in the future.