The Effect of Social Media on Teenagers | Newport Academy (2023)

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How does social media affect teenagers? Like any form of technology, social media has both an upside and a downside. And when it comes to the social media effects on teens, there are significant pros and cons to take into account.

On the plus side, platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat can be lifesavers for teens who feel isolated or marginalized, particularly LGBTQ teens. In addition, social media helped teens feel more connected and not as lonely during the pandemic.

But the impact of social media on youth can also be significantly detrimental to mental health. In particular, social media and teen depression are closely linked. Furthermore, overuse of the apps exposes teens to cyberbullying, body image issues, and tech addiction, and results in less time spent doing healthy, real-world activities. And while the majority of parents believe they know what their child is posting on social media, according to a Pew Research poll, a survey of teens found that70 percentof them are hiding their online behavior from their parents.

The Effect of Social Media on Teenagers | Newport Academy (1)

Are teens and social media a good mix, or does social media use lower teen well-being? Why is social media bad? This has become one of the more controversial questions regarding social media’s effects on teens, with studies showing varied results, including recent research on the use of social media during the pandemic.

According to a report released in 2021 by Common Sense Media on social media’s effects on teens, about half of the 1,500 young people surveyed said social media is very important for them in order to get support and advice, feel less alone, and express themselves creatively, as well as for staying in touch friends and family while social distancing. And 43 percent said that using social media makes them feel better when they are depressed, stressed, or anxious. Among LGBTQ youth, 52 percent said social media helps them feel better when they are experiencing these difficult emotions.

(Video) What Are the Effects of Social Media on Teenagers

On the other hand, the report, titled“Coping with COVID-19: How Young People Used Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health,”also showed a strong association between social media and teens feeling depressed. Youth with moderate to severe depressive symptoms were nearly twice as likely to say they used social media almost constantly: One-third of teens with depression reported constant social media use, as compared to 18 percent of teens who did not have depressive symptoms. Furthermore, the more severe their symptoms were, the more anxious, lonely and depressed they felt after using social media. Clearly, social media does not help teens who are already feeling depressed, and seems to contribute to their negative outlook.

Research on Social Media and Teen Depression: Why Social Media Can Be Bad for Mental Health

Is social media part of the reason that teen depression has drastically increased over the last decade? Surveys of US adolescents show that teen depressive symptoms and suicide ratesshowed marked increases between 2010 and 2015, especially among females. Some researchers theorize that the increase in social media and overall screen use between those years could account for these changes. The adolescents surveyed who spent more time on social media were more likely to report mental health issues. Those who spent more time on unplugged activities, such as in-person social interaction, sports, exercise, homework, and print media, were less likely to report these issues.

Over the last decade, this theory has been borne out by a large body ofresearchlinking teenagers’ use of social media with increasedteen 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 a2018 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.

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, andteen anxietyworse. However, some research on social media and teen depression shows that the causality goes the other way—i.e., when teens are depressed, they look at social media more often. In onestudyof 600 teens, researchers found that social media use did not predict depressive symptoms, but greater depressive symptoms predicted more social media use over time.

“Some experts argue that young people’s use of social media is adding to their depression; others that their depression leaves them so uninterested in other activities that they turn to social media by default. [Our] research suggests a third possibility: that many young people who are experiencing depression— whatever the cause—are purposely and proactively using social media and other digital tools to protect and promote their own well-being.”

2021 Common Sense Media report

Additional Psychological Effects of Social Media on Youth

A recent study by researchers at University College London tracked three years of social media use by 13,000 teenagers, starting when they were 13. The teens also self-reported about their social media experiences and their mood and well-being.

After compiling the data, the study authors concluded that the social media effect on youth is driven by three primary factors:

  • Inadequate sleep—teens stayed up late to continue scrolling through their social media feeds
  • Exposure tocyberbullying—having harmful, false, or private content about them posted on social media
  • Lack of physical activity—scrolling social media on their phones or other devices meant that teens sat for longer periods of time and had less time for exercise. As a result, they missed out on thebeneficial impact of exercise on mental health.

According to the study, which waspublished in the journalLancet, 27 percent of the teens who frequently used social media reported high psychological stress. For teens who used social media less frequently, only 17 percent reported highpsychological stress.

(Video) How social media influences the mental & behavioral health of children age 13 to 17

The Impact of Social Media on Youth Social Comparison

One way in which social media impacts teen mental health is through negative social comparison—what media psychologist Don Grant, PhD, Newport Director of Outpatient Services, calls “compare and despair.” Teenagers on social media spend much of their time observing the lives and images of their peers. This leads to constant comparisons, which can damage self-esteem and body image,exacerbating depressionand anxiety among adolescents.

As with other types of social comparison, teens report lower self-esteem and self-evaluation when looking at peers on social media sites. For example, this includes looking at profiles on which peers post curated images about their significant others, 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 toa Pew Research Center reporton the effect of social media on teenagers, 26 percent of teens say these sites make them feel worse about their own life.

Read “Teen Mental Health and the Theory of Social Comparison.”

The Negative Psychological Effects of Social Media on Teen Body Image

Body image is one primary area in which teen social comparison leads to negative emotions. When tees compare themselves to curated and filtered photographs of their peers and of celebrities, they often feel inferior. This can lead to lower self-esteem and negative body image. In addition, Facebook use has also been linked toa higher risk of eating disorders.

According to a survey by Common Sense Media:

  • 35 percent of teenagers on social media worry about being tagging in unattractive photos
  • 27 percent are stressed out about how they look when they post pictures
  • 22 percent feel bad about themselves when nobody comments on or “likes” their photos.

Social Media Effects on Teens: Health Hazard or Healthy Inspiration?

Along with providing ways to seek help and support, social media also provides forums in which teens can encourage each other in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors. Hence, teens with eating disorders or those who self-harm can connect with others to talk about their self-destructive routines. In these online forums, obsessive calorie counting, fasting, or over-exercising are accepted and encouraged. As a result, teens may learn ways to hide or intensify the behavior, putting them at greater risk.

On the flip side, a teen social network can inspire teenagers to develop healthy habits. Thus, seeing peers eating nutritious food, doing something creative, or getting outside in nature can encourage other teens to do the same. Social networks can create peer motivation, inspiring young people to try something new, follow their dreams, and speak up about things that matter to them.Teens can also findpositive role modelsonline. Hence, the effect of social media on teenagers might actually result in more unplugged time and increased self-care behaviors.

The Effect of Social Media on Teenagers’ Identity Formation

The impact of social media on youth extends to an important part of adolescent development: the formation of one’s unique identity. Hence, social media provides a forum for teens to practice skills related to identity development. These include self-presentation and self-disclosure—sharing their opinions, beliefs, and preferences.

In a longitudinal survey of 219 freshmen at a state university, researchers found that teens who expressed their opinions on social media experienced increased well-being. In addition, another study found that adolescents who communicated more online had greater “self-concept clarity”—a clearer idea of who they were. This self-awareness supports mental health.

(Video) Impact of Social Media on Youth | Katanu Mbevi | TEDxYouth@BrookhouseSchool

A2020 research article on teens and social mediaconcluded that, since social media gives teens the “autonomy to explore and experiment with their identities in a space of their own, where they have control over what, how, and with whom they share information,” it had the potential to be particularly important during COVID-19, when real-life opportunities for identity formation were limited.

Friendships, Teens, and Social Media

Friendship and social skills are additional areas in which the impact of social media on youth can bepositiveand negative. In the Pew Research Center report, 81 percent of teens in the survey said social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on in their friends’ lives. In addition, two-thirds of teens said these platforms make them feel as if they have people who will support them through tough times.

During the pandemic, of course, social media became one of the most frequent—and sometimes the only—way in which teens socialized with peers. But there’s a difference between teens’ social media friends vs. their real friends: The Pew survey found that 60 percent of teens say they spend time with their friends online on a daily or nearly daily basis, but only 24 percent spent time with their friends that often in person (pre-COVID). These stats highlight how online connections may not translate into IRL relationships.

Moreover,cyberbullyingincreased exponentially during the pandemic. A 2020 report by the organization L1ght found a70 percent uptickin hate speech among kids and teens across communication channels on social media and popular chat forums. More time spent online provides enhanced access to both the beneficial and detrimental aspects, further driving the effects of social media on teenagers.

The Addictive Quality of Social Media for Teens

Scientists have found that teen social media overuse creates a stimulation pattern similar to the pattern created by other addictive behaviors. Hence, the brain responds to social media the same way it responds to other “rewards”— with a release of dopamine. These dopamine rushes are catalyzed when a teen posts something online and is met with likes, shares, and positive comments from their peers.

“Social media use targets our limbic system through its susceptibility to intermittent variable rewards—the same basic idea behind slot machine design—that get us “hooked” and coming back from more. Our brains keep seeking the dopamine hit that comes with the next post we see on our feed or the next reaction to something we’ve posted. Research also suggests that these rituals may prime the brain for other future unhealthy dependencies or addictions.”

—Don Grant, PhD, Newport Director of Outpatient Services

(Video) Techs and Teens: The Effects of Social Media on Teenagers

Treatment for Teen Social Media Addiction and Its Root Causes

As the research shows, teen social media overuse is often linked with underlying issues, such as depression, chronic stress, anxiety, or low self-esteem. Hence, treatment at Newport Academy includes addressing these root causes while unplugging from phones and social media.

After just a few days, teens begin to reawaken to their IRL environment. During treatment with us, they form strong friendships, explore their inner life through journaling and meditation, spend time in nature, and experience creative offline activities.

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(Video) How Does Social Media Affect Teenagers?

Newport’s clinical team specializes in helping teens gain the skills and self-knowledge to heal from the maladaptive behaviors, underlying causes, and negative consequences associated with teens and social media.Contact ustoday to learn more about our teen treatment programs and our approach tohealthy device management.

Sources:

Nature Human Behaviour. 2019(3): 173–182.
Clinical Psych Sci. 2019, 2017.
Prev Med Rep. 2018 Oct 18;12: 271–283.
Comput Human Behav. 2015; 52: 49–58.
Psychiatr Danub. 2012 Mar; 24(1): 90–3.

FAQs

What is the effect of social media on teenagers? ›

Social media harms

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use.

Is social media good for teenagers? ›

Social media benefits include connection, learning and creativity. Risks include exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and privacy and data breaches. Written guidelines can help pre-teens and teenagers get benefits while using social media responsibly, respectfully and safely.

How does social media affect teenagers mental health statistics? ›

Spending more than 3 hours on social media per day puts adolescents at a higher risk for mental health problems. 13% of kids ages 12-17 report depression and 32% report anxiety. 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds report mental illness. These age groups report high usage of social media.

What are the positive and negative impact of social media on youth? ›

Social media use may expose teens to peer pressure, cyberbullying, and increased mental health risk. But, social media can also connect isolated teens and help them find supportive networks. Parents can set limitations and communicate openly with teens about healthy social media use.

How social media affects students? ›

It is easy to become addicted, and research shows that students who spend too much time on social media can suffer from poor sleep, eye fatigue, negative body image, depression, anxiety, cyberbullying, and more.

What is the major impact of social media? ›

The more time spent on social media can lead to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, and exposure to content that is not age appropriate. Social Media is addicting. When you're playing a game or accomplishing a task, you seek to do it as well as you can.

How does media affect our personality? ›

Social Media's Negative Effects On Relationships

It can help people who are socially isolate or shy connect with people; on the other hand, it is correlated with personality and brain disorders such as the need for instant gratification, ADHD and addictive personalities.

Is social media affecting the youth of today? ›

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.

Why is social media a distraction to students? ›

10 ways social media is distracting:

You find yourself stalking people… wondering what they're up to at any given time… You get drawn into content that might be interesting, but isn't relevant to your studies or purpose. You end up taking Wiki walks, even if you didn't mean to.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using social media? ›

Top 10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media
Pros of Social MediaCons of Social Media
Social Media Can Reach Large AudiencesSocial Media Causes Sleep Issues
Government Benefits from Social MediaSocial Media Cause Depression and Loneliness
Entertainment with Social MediaSocial Media Causes Distraction
7 more rows
Jun 14, 2022

How does social media affect teenagers mental health essay? ›

However, social networking sites have a negative effect on teens mental health as frequent use of these sites causes mental disorders such depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation. Although social media has enhanced our connectivity, it is also causing a decline in social and communication skills.

What are negative influence of media? ›

The negative effects of mass media on society can lead people towards poverty, crime, nudity, violence, bad mental and physical health disorders and others as such severe outcomes. For example, mob hitting innocents by getting carried away from the rumors spread on the internet has been common.

How does social media affect education negatively? ›

Past studies have found that students who spend more time on social media sites are likely to demonstrate poor academic performance. This is because they spend time chatting online and making friends on social media sites instead of reading books.

How does media affect academic life? ›

The research showed that: Those who use social media mainly to communicate about academic/school-related topics tend to have marginally better grades than those who use social media for non academic-related matters. Students who are especially active on social media don't spend less time studying.

What are the challenges of using social media in education? ›

There are potential risks associated with social media use.

Cyberbullying or other online conflicts (e.g., a student or staff member may experience widespread and direct public ridicule; schools with social media accounts may experience negative postings about the school).

What are the positive and negative effects of media? ›

While it can provide a platform for your teenagers to express themselves, develop social skills, etc., it can also have some negative effects–instilling false messages, false beliefs, violent behavior, spending too much time in front of a screen may cause health and development issues.

How social media changed our life? ›

Social media has helped many businesses grow and promote itself, and has helped people find a better way to connect and communicate with one another. On the other hand, it's also provided many people with problems involving mental health, emotional insecurities, and waste of time.

How social media affects our life essay? ›

If the use of social media is not monitored, it can lead to grave consequences. It is harmful because it invades your privacy like never before. The oversharing happening on social media makes children a target for predators and hackers. It also leads to cyberbullying which affects any person significantly.

What are 7 advantages of social media? ›

Here's a quick summary:
  • It's cost-effective.
  • It provides authenticity.
  • It compliments advertising.
  • It fosters your creative voice.
  • It provides a forum for customer care.
  • It builds engaged communities.
  • It helps search engine optimization.
Oct 12, 2020

Why social media is good for learning? ›

Social media promotes self-directed learning, which prepares students to search for answers and make decisions independently. When reinforced in a classroom setting, these social media skills can be guided and refined to produce better learning outcomes and critical awareness.

How social media influences attitudes & behaviors? ›

Research has shown that people who use social media frequently have increased levels of negative emotions such as envy and isolation.

How does social media influence human behavior? ›

People become unhappy with their current circumstances, leading to problems with self-esteem and depression. Social media use has also been associated with cyber bullying and cyber abuse by anonymous users online, which leads to problems of self-esteem, privacy ,etc.

How does social media affect mental health? ›

However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media may promote negative experiences such as: Inadequacy about your life or appearance.

What are 10 points social media? ›

1) Social media is a way to connect, communicate and share media and texts with friends, family and other people digitally. 2) It allows you to connect and be in touch with other distant people. 3) India comes second in terms of internet users in the world, particularly in the social media platforms.

Is social media helpful or harmful? ›

Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health.

What are the pros and cons of social media for students? ›

  • 6 Pros & Cons Of Social Media In The Classroom. contributed by Aimee Hosler.
  • Engaged students are more successful. ...
  • Social media teaches important life lessons. ...
  • It's 'real world' ...
  • The Internet is a new medium for bullying. ...
  • Social media can be a time suck.
  • The Internet is a dangerous place.

How social media affects social skills? ›

Non-verbal aspects of a conversation are how the person speaking indicates his/her emotion about what he/she is talking about. Using social media too much makes it harder for people to identify the emotion being expressed by the people with whom they are talking. This makes it harder to respond appropriately.

How many students are distracted by social media? ›

A recent survey assessing the impact of social media on education today found that 82% of Gen Zers said it has distracted them from their schoolwork.

How many students are addicted to social media? ›

Social Media Addiction Statistics Amongst Young Adults

Young adults tend to be the most affected by social media addiction. It is significantly higher amongst young single women. 90% of people aged 18-29 use social media in some form. 15% of people aged 23-38 admit that they are addicted to social media.

Is social media a teaching and a learning distraction? ›

Social media can be both a distraction and a tool for learning. I can do well in both ways. This is just because it is just a tool which can be harnessed for use in any area. In teaching and learning social media can be very useful if positively harnessed for purposes of learning.

How does or how can social media affect your friendships? ›

1 Aside from cyberbullying, oversharing and sexting issues, social media also can put negative pressure on friendships, especially when one friend is very active about posting pictures, status updates and opinions that hurt others.

How does social media affect teenagers mental health essay? ›

However, social networking sites have a negative effect on teens mental health as frequent use of these sites causes mental disorders such depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation. Although social media has enhanced our connectivity, it is also causing a decline in social and communication skills.

What are the pros and cons of social media? ›

Pros & Cons of Social Media
ProsCons
Put yourself out there in a good wayPosting inappropriate statuses/pictures
Connect with students in other educational systemsMaking people feel bad about themselves
Make new friends/communicate or connect with old friends/familyCyberbullying
15 more rows

What are the positive and negative effects of media? ›

While it can provide a platform for your teenagers to express themselves, develop social skills, etc., it can also have some negative effects–instilling false messages, false beliefs, violent behavior, spending too much time in front of a screen may cause health and development issues.

How social media negatively affects social skills? ›

Non-verbal aspects of a conversation are how the person speaking indicates his/her emotion about what he/she is talking about. Using social media too much makes it harder for people to identify the emotion being expressed by the people with whom they are talking. This makes it harder to respond appropriately.

How social media affects self-esteem? ›

Research shows that the more time people spend on Facebook and Instagram, the more they compare themselves socially. This social comparison is linked, among other things, to lower self-esteem and higher social anxiety.

What are the negative effects of social media essay? ›

Disadvantages of Social Media

It is harmful because it invades your privacy like never before. The oversharing happening on social media makes children a target for predators and hackers. It also leads to cyberbullying which affects any person significantly.

How does social media affect our mental and physical health? ›

When people look online and see they're excluded from an activity, it can affect thoughts and feelings, and can affect them physically. A 2018 British study tied social media use to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor academic performance.

What are 10 points social media? ›

1) Social media is a way to connect, communicate and share media and texts with friends, family and other people digitally. 2) It allows you to connect and be in touch with other distant people. 3) India comes second in terms of internet users in the world, particularly in the social media platforms.

What are the 4 main reasons you use social media? ›

Billions of people around the world use social media to share information and make connections. On a personal level, social media allows you to communicate with friends and family, learn new things, develop your interests, and be entertained.

Is social media helpful or harmful? ›

Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health.

What social media has the most negative impact? ›

Instagram was found to have the most negative overall effect on young people's mental health. The popular photo sharing app negatively impacts body image and sleep, increases bullying and “FOMO” (fear of missing out), and leads to greater feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

How social media Affects todays generation? ›

In particular, social media and teen depression are closely linked. Furthermore, overuse of the apps exposes teens to cyberbullying, body image issues, and tech addiction, and results in less time spent doing healthy, real-world activities.

How social media has changed our lives? ›

Social media has helped many businesses grow and promote itself, and has helped people find a better way to connect and communicate with one another. On the other hand, it's also provided many people with problems involving mental health, emotional insecurities, and waste of time.

How media is affecting the Behaviour of growing child? ›

Watching too much media is connected to poor sleep, obesity, behavior problems, and poor school performance. Old recommendations were to limit screen time to less than 2 hours a day.

How is social media bad for communication? ›

Social media has some damaging effects on communication skills and unfortunately lasting damaging effects when social media is used in excess or obsessively. One, it affects the ways individuals react to emotions, social cues or nonverbal cues, as it erases this important aspect of the basis of communication.

How do media affect communication? ›

Reducing interactions to a few choice words on a screen can lead to misunderstandings and curtailed conversations. Engaging in a text conversation doesn't require us to make eye contact or consider another person's thoughts and feelings. Essentially, texting is lazy.

Videos

1. Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health? | Bailey Parnell | TEDxRyersonU
(TEDx Talks)
2. The Effect of Social Media on Teenagers
(Brianna Bromley)
3. 5 Crazy Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Brain Right Now
(AsapSCIENCE)
4. How social media affects teens’ mental health and well-being, with Linda Charmaraman, PhD
(American Psychological Association)
5. The Social Dilemma - Influence of Social Media on Teen Depression and Behavior
(Professor Ross)
6. Public Speaking: The Impact of Social Media on Teenagers
(Nash MG)
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