Today, we live in a technology-dominated world. While this is an exciting and progressive time in human history, technology does have its pros and cons. Many individuals, particularly teens, experience the downsides of it since they consume the most technology and social media. In short, the answer is “yes”, social media is definitely to blame for worsening the health of teenagers and especially the mental health of teenagers, this is why:
Let’s start with the question of: “what is social media?”. By definition, social media is a website or application designed to serve the purpose of enabling users to connect socially with others on the same networks. However, while it’s incredible to communicate and share content with others on a global scale, doing so can make a teen vulnerable to using and experiencing social media in manners that are a threat to their well-being.
According to a survey conducted by Statista, social media use has been rapidly increasing with each passing year. In 2008, only 24% of the US population was using social media. Last year, it was found that more than 81% are now a part of the online social media sphere. Some of the most popular social media websites and applications include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Teenagers are the number one demographic in the country who spend a majority of their time on social media. In fact, they have been found to spend close to 200 minutes or more on them; where the most popular device of choice is a phone versus a laptop.
Because social media is centered around sharing content with others on a network, this has the power to cultivate a sense of competition between teenagers who post their daily lives and highlights on their profiles, eager to earn another “like”, an action on social media that recognizes the approval of another person. Studies show that the simple act of receiving a “like” for posts provides a sense of validation for a teen and their experiences. In fact, it triggers the brain’s reward system since it produces dopamine. Teenagers can become obsessed with earning as many “likes” as possible, which has made it a modern teen addiction. If they don’t receive the number of “likes” they desire, they have been found to develop depression and anxiety over the matter.
Furthermore, social media has a tendency to paint unrealistic portrayals of life, which is a catalyst to lowering a teen’s self-esteem. Influencers, individuals paid to advertise products and luxuries, on social media comprise the majority of our teen’s feed. Naturally, a teen will compare the quality of their life with what they see on the screen. This causes a teen to become dissatisfied with their current circumstances and puts a pressure on them to attempt to reach a perfection that does not exist.
Subsequently, social media users lean towards purposely posting only the best parts of their life and day, making it seem they live a perfect life. Lastly, social media can be generally addicting since it provides a distraction and escape from the stress of everyday life, such as academic pressure and feeling the need to “fit in”, which makes it an unhealthy coping strategy and prevents teens from developing proper social skills.
While social media is definitely a factor to blame for worsening the health of teenagers, it can easily be avoided by educating our teens on the consequences of spending too much time on social media and technology. But when we give teens the awareness of an issue, they will be more inclined to make better and well-informed decisions when faced with one. Ultimately, we can positively influence the relationship they develop with social media and can help them avoid the negative impacts of it all together.
About the Author:
TREVOR C. MCDONALD
Writer and Editor in San Diego, California
Trevor McDonald graduated from Penn State University in 2012 with a degree in Communications. He is currently living the dream working as a freelance writer. He writes about a broad range of topics, from business, government, and technology to travel, addiction, wellness, education and even fashion & lifestyle. He is currently available for hire on a contract or freelance basis. Please feel free to email him at TrevorC.Mcdonald@gmail.com