Social media has become the primary form of communication among teens. It’s doubtful that you will see teens calling and engaging in phone conversations, and even in-person communication is being affected. Teens will opt to send Snapchats, Facebook messages, or tweets over traditional methods. The result is a disconnect between the real world and the social media world, which has a variety of impacts. While it does allow teens to engage with each other easily and more frequently, it can also negatively impact mental health.
Teens’ rates of depression are higher than ever before, and social media is a contributing factor. Here are some of the ways that social media is affecting the mental health of teens.
1. Low self-esteem
When teens evaluate their self-worth, it is almost wholly related to acceptance from their peers. Social media gives teens the ability to be whoever they want to be and often leads to them portraying a fake identity online. They are bombarded with images of what the perfect life is, or what you’re supposed to look like.
The problem is that 99% of it is filtered both figuratively and literally. Social media platforms give teens the ability to apply physical filters to their appearance, making them appear more “beautiful” by social media standards. Teens compare their real-life self to who they think they should be according to social media. That leads to extremely low self-esteem and can result in needing treatment for social anxiety.
Social media impacts the relationships your teen has with their peers. There’s a dramatic reduction in face-to-face interaction, and teens don’t get the chance to develop their communication skills. The psychological effects of building all relationships in the social media space mean that your teen doesn’t honestly know their peers, or themselves. It becomes harder to understand or feel empathy as relationships are disingenuous. There also isn’t the chance to learn how to read body language. All these factors can make it harder to build effective in-person relationships and friendships.
3. Erratic sleep cycles
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95% of Americans engage with technology before going to sleep. The majority of those people are teens. It’s vital during the teenage years that you get adequate sleep. Without it, teens will experience adverse effects on emotional, mental, and even physical health. Being on social media before bed doesn’t give your brain a chance to turn off. On top of that, the light from the screen can strain eyes and reduce melatonin. They will end up being more tired throughout the day and increase their chance of developing depression.
The reliance on using social media to feel connected can result in internet dependency. The idea of being unable to access social media at any point in time can result in severe anxiety and irritability. Your teen may have emotional outbursts or get angry if they are unable to connect. The over-use of social media can quickly become problematic, and your teen can become entirely disconnected from the real world, with no interest in any activities besides being online.