Could you imagine your teens without their cellphones? Could they imagine themselves not using social media anymore? Well, that would be hard to imagine for sure. It seems like social media apps just came out of nowhere and changed everything around us—especially our social interactions.
Whether the drastic change brought by social media in our lives, especially our children’s lives has been for the better or worse depends on how you choose to look at it. Just like everything else in this world, social media has also two sides—good and bad. We will explore both the positive as well as negative effects of social media on teens later in this post.
Social Media Usage: Two Contrasting Opinions
The addiction to social media is real. Teens are found to be more addicted to social media than most adults. They are connected with others on social media more than they ever have. Two different schools of thought tend to exist when it comes to the effects of social media on our teens.
Some people believe that the internet and social media have brought a positive change in our teen’s lives whereas others beg to differ. They believe that social media has exposed our teens to greater online risks and led them to several serious problems such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
An article featured on Child Mind Institute told us about a survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health where they interviewed 14-24-year olds in the UK and asked them how social media impacted their health and wellbeing.
The results were shocking; it was found that popular social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat led the younger generation to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and body image issues.
On the other hand, as reported by Psycom, another small study conducted on teens aged between 13 and 18 from the UCLA Brain Mapping Center found there was increased activity in the reward center of the brain on receiving a high number of likes on photos on social media platforms.
Moreover, teens are influenced to like photos that have received a high number of likes, regardless of the content. This proves that it feels good to be liked by someone on social media and people’s mentality is quite big on social media. All teens need to do is like what others like and they are in.
Positive Effects of Social Media on Teens
We cannot stress enough the importance of social media and how positively it has impacted our lives. Social media has helped people come together and socialize in the online world. Teens always look out for opportunities to socialize with others and social media makes it easier and immediate for them.
Those teens who find it difficult connecting with people in real-life or struggle having face-to-face conversations can benefit from socializing with others through social media platforms.
Social media comes in handy for teens who are in marginalized groups such as LGBTQ teens and teens coping with mental health problems. They can connect, find support, and form a friendship with others belonging to the same groups through social media. These online connections can bring about a huge difference in their isolated lives.
Negative Effects of Social Media on Teens
While you are at it, you will soon realize that the negative effects of social media on teens seem to be greater than the positive effects. While teens can use social media platforms to connect and develop friendships with other teens, they also fall victim to several online dangers such as cyberbullying, pornography, sexting, and pedophilia.
Other than that, social media promotes feelings of depression and anxiety, disrupts sleep patterns, decreases face-to-face interactions as well as lowers self-esteem. Several kinds of research have found strong links between the use of social media and depression.
A study featured in Computers in Human Behavior, as reported by Very Well Family, found that the use of multiple social media sites is more strongly linked with depression than the amount of time spent online. People who were present on more than seven social media sites had more risks of depression than those who were present on one or two sites.
Let us understand how social media can be destructive for our teens:
Most teen girls, in particular, are at high risk of cyberbullying through the constant use of social media. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean teen boys are not immune to it. Any teen irrespective of gender can fall victim to online trolls, mean comments, and abusive language. Cyberbullying is so dangerous that it can lead teens to have depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.
Paying Attention to Likes
Teens are obsessed with getting “likes” on social media. This obsession can cause them to make choices they wouldn’t make otherwise such as changing their physical appearance, engaging in negative activities, and accepting risky and bizarre social media challenges.
Another downside of social media for teens is that they are constantly drawing comparisons with their peers and friends. Even though most of the teens already know that their peers and friends only share their highlight reels and achievements on social media that might sometimes be fake as well, it is very difficult for them to avoid making comparisons.
When they see their friend posting about some recent purchase on social media, they become envious and start thinking why cannot they have the same thing. This unusual and uncalled for comparison promote feelings of jealousy inside them.
Most teens add strangers to their social media accounts without knowing who they really are. Despite having privacy settings in place, they may have hundreds of friends through friends of friends on their social media accounts.
The more people on their friends or followers list, the more people have access to their posts, photos, and updates and may use them for other evil purposes. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that privacy on social media is not effective.
Less Face-to-Face Interaction
Ever since social media has invaded our lives, our face-to-face interactions have fairly decreased. Teens need to socialize in real life and for that, they need to practice every day. However, it is difficult to practice social interaction skills if our teens will spend more time online. They can’t develop empathy and compassion for others if they spend more hours engaging with them online than in person.