Social media is a popular outlet for all age groups. It helps us when we don’t live near friends or family. It gives us funny videos when we need comedic relief. It connects us with strangers and allows us to learn new skills or cooking recipes. There are so many great aspects of social media.
However, with that said, there is a darker side to social media. The truth is social media, while beneficial, can also be really damaging to mental health. No matter a person’s age, it can leave many feeling anxious and inferior after scrolling through a news feed. This is especially true for teenagers.
As a teenager, the brain is still developing and growing in size. It is constantly taking in new things, which can sometimes negatively impact them. When it comes to social media, engagement across any platform can be especially disadvantageous to mental health.
How Social Media Affects Teen Mental Health
This one might seem obvious, but it is 100% worth mentioning. Scrolling through social media, we all often follow celebrities, models, and influencers. We are often bombarded with images of people who are considered incredibly beautiful or handsome, famous or not.
This can create a warped sense of reality and creates unrealistic and often unhealthy standards of beauty—especially for teenagers. Constantly seeing images of people who are in perfect shape and meet these ideals can lower someone’s confidence in themselves. It’s already hard as a teenager to have confidence in yourself, but social media can make this even worse.
Increase In Social Anxiety
Even though teens are still seeing each other outside of school and in the classroom, their opportunities for socialization are decreasing. This is because most of their interactions take place via social media.
This causes vital physical interactions such as maintaining eye contact and taking verbal or physical cues off to the wayside. If teens’ main way of socializing is through social media, they aren’t building on these vital skills that they will need for the rest of their lives.
The “popularity” contest
One of the biggest problems for many teenagers is the popularity contest. No matter what generation you are from, this has always been an issue. Now, thanks to social media, the craziness of trying to fit in is even greater.
This is because of certain features that all social media platforms have—the ability to “like,” comment, or follow, especially for photo-sharing platforms. These number counts can make it seem like a race to get the most views or likes on their photos or videos. When that doesn’t happen for someone, it can make them feel frustrated or unliked by their peers.
Bullying can increase
Bullying in the teenage years has always been prevalent, so that is nothing new. Now, what’s new is the means by which someone can do this. It’s easy to hide behind a screen and make mean or hurtful comments. Many teenagers often encounter hurtful comments or messages on their social media from their peers. This is often done through anonymous accounts in addition to “real-life” bullying.
What to do
If you are a teenager or you have a teen, you might be wondering what to do next. Self-esteem issues in the teenage years can often lead to larger problems such as anxiety or depression. The teenage years are already hard as it is; social media shouldn’t be something that can worsen mental health.