It probably comes as no surprise that more people, especially teenagers, spend most of their time on social media today than ever before. Moreover, many of us rely on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram to find and connect in today’s modern world.
Thus, social media has become an inseparable part of today’s life; therefore, it certainly has a relatively significant impact on their daily lives for good and bad. But, unfortunately, it is so easy to fall into the trap of using technology and social media without any intention as the device is suitable for our hands.
As per the Pew Research Center, social media is “nearly ubiquitous” in the lives of teens. 69% of adults and 81% of teens use social media in the US. Among them, 51% of teens visit social sites daily, and one in 4 teens is social media addicted, using a minimum of two different types of social media each day.
In addition, 45% of teenagers say they are online almost constantly, nearly doubled from the 2014-2015 survey where the number was only 24%. Teenagers are the primary users of social media sites. The main purpose of using social media by teenagers is for social interaction.
If you are curious about how social media affects a teen’s mental health, what may be the ways to escape from it, and how a teen can benefit from it, here is the article for you that helps you remove the thirst of your curiosity.

Why do teenagers use social media?

Social media has become a crucial and inseparable part of today’s teen life. Social media allows teenagers to create their own identities, helps to communicate with new people regardless of geographic barriers, and teaches them about a variety of subjects and builds social networks. As a result, today’s teens can barely live without using social media. In addition, teens use social media, especially for entertainment and self-expression.
Some teenagers try to indulge in the social media world, thinking they might get famous by unknowingly pushing into the social media trap by themselves. However, teenagers often feel that they have different persona online and feel more comfortable opening up about their present life, choices, or being more themselves away from in-person family and peers.
Teenagers are more fascinated about using social media or being constantly active on these platforms because these platforms can expose teens to current events, allow them to interact across geographic barriers, and teach them about a variety of subjects, including healthy behaviors.
In short, some general reasons that teenagers use social media regularly are for:

  • Communicating with friends or loved ones once
  • Joining or participating in group chats
  • Exploring different new things or trends
  • Meeting new people
  • When they have nothing to do or just for killing the boredom
  • The feeling of missing out on something if they are not always up to date with social media platforms

However, as per the article published in academia, 21% of teens felt down about themselves after looking at social media. Furthermore, teens’ social media usage has been thought to be correlated with depression, anxiety, worsening self-esteem, and loneliness.

How does social media affect teen’s mental health?

Social media usage can negatively affect teens by distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people’s lives, and peer pressure. So let’s dig into the topic for more detailed information.

Social comparison:

Social comparison is one of the biggest reasons that hamper teen’s mental health. Social media undermines teen’s mental health through social comparison. In addition, social media is the source of unnecessary tension that hampers teen’s mental health.
As we all know that it’s hard not to start comparing our lives to the filtered lives of others, even subconsciously. As a result, teenagers spend a lot of time scrolling feeds and observing the lives and images of their peers, which leads to constant comparisons and ultimately ends up damaging their self-esteem and falling into depression.
According to the report on the effect of social media on teenagers published by the pew research center, 43% of teenagers say they feel pressure to only post content on social media that makes them look good to others, and 26% of teens say these sites make them feel worse about their own life.

Sleep deprivation:

Social media is very addictive. Research published in science direct shows that 70% of people use social media after getting into bed, with almost 15% spending an hour or more doing so each night. In addition, as per the article published in NPR, 84% of teenagers have a mobile phone, and it has become an essential thing in a teen’s life.
As a result, teens carried their phones everywhere, even to the bed, and ended up scrolling social media for hours and hours, depriving their sleep, resulting in vamping or even higher risk of developing a sleep disorder like insomnia. In addition, heavier social media uses result in more inadequate sleep patterns, making teens yawning and sluggish the next day and hampers their study in the long term.

Depression and anxiety:

On the one hand, social media works as a depression killer for those, especially teens who are far from their parents for studying. Whenever they feel homesick or miss their family, social media is the only way that connects them. But, on the other hand, social media can be the cause of depression and anxiety. As per the article published in bhpalmbeach, it was determined that those who used social media the most were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than participants who used social media the least.
Social media and depression are parallel to each other, and if not handled properly, the result can be severe. For example, there can be the case where teens get cheated, or someone broke the trust they met online, which leaves teens feeling depressed. Unfortunately, this results in depression, loneliness, mood swings, anxiety, guilt, dishonesty, trust issues.

Online bullying and online scam:

Social media can harm teen’s mental health. Teenagers can easily fall into the trap of an online scam that may be seen as an attractive advertisement popped out while using any social media. Teenagers are not mature enough, and they do not think about the consequences they may face when they click such a site while browsing the social site and end up being the victim of an online scam.
Similarly, there can be the case where teens comment on an actor’s post or try to be more sarcastic but end up being the target of the trolls. In such a case, it affects teen’s mental health, loses confidence, and makes them isolated from online and real-world thinking; they are now a piece of jokes.

How to improve mental health when using social media?

Some tips to improve mental health when using social media are:

Monitor screen time:

One of the most efficient and easiest ways to improve mental health when using social media is monitoring screen time. If you are determined and willing to improve your screen time habit, then you must give it a go. Many apps are available online that help you set your screen time limits.
Take a break:
It’s hard to accept that today’s teens have become somewhat dependent on their phones and social media as a significant part of their life. Social media has taken over their day-to-day life. To have a good balance between mental health and social media, make a habit of ditching your phone or log out from all the social media for a day per week. Give yourself time, spend time with family and friends, go cycling, walking or for a short trip.

Be mindful of the “why”:

It would help if you questioned yourself why are you using social media? Whether to escape or to connect. If you are using it to escape from the real world, then is it worth it for you? If yes, then go ahead, but if you feel something is still missing out, look for help from your family or peers. Please share your thoughts, your problems with them and find the solution without getting into the negative trap of social sites.
And if you are using it to communicate with others and after you are done, is it still necessary to be active on social media without doing anything and scrolling your feed? One of the reasonable ways to improve your mental health without cutting off the social site entirely from your life is by identifying or limiting where and when to use social media.

Final thoughts:

Social media is very addictive. Heavy use of social media or being online 24/7 can harm the teen’s mental health. Even though social media can be dangerous, it can also be life-changing if you use it for the right things. It is necessary to remember that your social media experience could be completely transformed into a healthy screen time if you wanted to.
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