Social Media And Its Impact On Teens

by | Sep 12, 2023 | Family, Mental Health, Technology, Tips

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Social media has become an integral part of your teenagers’ lives, shaping their interactions, self-perception and overall experiences. While social media platforms  like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat allow teens to connect and share information, they also raise concerns about the effect on mental health and well being.  Social media has both positive and negatives aspects. Do you understand social media and its impact on teens? 

Increased Social Connectedness

Social media does provide an avenue for teens to connect with friends, family and peers from around the world.  Distance is no longer a barrier. This enhances social interactions and helps maintain relationships and this digital era. Kids are also very busy, and this allows connections even during those short bursts of time. I know that my son connects with friends even for 20-30 minutes online for a game in between work schedules, school activities and family obligations. It has been important for those friendships to continue.

Impact on Mental Health

Studies have shown a correlation between excessive social media use and an increase in anxiety, depression, and loneliness among teens. Constant comparison to carefully curated online personas may leed to feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem. 

teen boy outdoors looking at phone, other teens in background

Social media often portrays unrealistic beauty standard, leading some teens to develop negative body image perceptions and engage in unhealthy behaviors to conform to these standards.

Therefore, it is important for teens to understand the impact of what they are seeing can influence them. And they want to continue to build healthy tech habits.  

Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

You can’t talk about social media without addressing the fact that it can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying and online harassment. Teens may be exposed to hurtful comments, exclusion, or spreading of rumors, leading to emotional distress and even long-term psychological consequences. Teens need to be taught what to do when they encounter this harassment online, otherwise they can be swept up into the negativity. They also need to learn how to treat others respectfully in a digital format. Parents can help by teaching their children what to do and by monitoring their online activity, especially if they notice changes in their child’s behavior.  

Sleep Disruptions

Excessive social media use, especially before bed, can disrupt teens’ sleep patterns, affecting their overall health, academic performance and emotional well-being.

Academic Performance

Excessive use of social media may distract teens from their studies and affect their academic performance. Constant notifications and interruptions can disrupt focus and concentration during study hours.

Social media can have a positive affect on their academic performance as it can be a source of valuable information. They can also be connected with topics they are passionate about and dive deeper into their interests.  

With all the information on social media, they can be exposed to misleading or false content, so parents can help their children develop necessary critical thinking and decision-making skills.

two teen girls looking at phone screen and smiling.

Positive Influence and Support

Social media can provide a supportive network for teens going through challenging times. Online communities and resources can help teens connect with others facing similar issues and offer encouragement and advice. My son who has anxiety and depression has found many online supports and has made many strong connections that have helped him.

Empowerment and Advocacy

Social media allows teens to raise awareness about important social issues, participate in advocacy campaigns and find their voices on matters that they are passionate about. Volunteer opportunities can also be available online for teens.

Conclusion

The impact of social media on teens is a complex interplay of both positive and negative aspects. While it enhances social connectedness and provides opportunities for empowerment and encourages self-expression, it also carries risks to mental health, self-esteem and academic performance. It is crucial to promote responsible social media use among teens, encouraging open communication and a balanced approach to technology. By fostering digital literacy, teaching critical thinking, and promoting self-care, we can empower teenagers to navigate the social media landscape safely and confidently while mitigating potential negative effects on their overall well-being.

Social Media And Its Impact On Teens

By Lisa Edwards, M.Ed., Parent Coach

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