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Effects of social media on mental health of teenagers

Nov, 2020 - By CMI

Effects of social media on mental health of teenagers

The use of social media in the past decade has increased immensely which does have a positive and a negative impact on teenagers.

Young people of any country are the most energized, talented and do have a key role in building the nation. New generation represents the future of a country and they have the ability to learn and adapt to the environment. However youth uses their time on social media which is a powerful tool that provides a platform to communicate, socialize, gain knowledge, share content, and different ways to interact with the customers.

According to Statistica, in 2017, 2.5 billion people were there on social platforms worldwide and now in 2020, 3.8 billion users are on social platform which is almost half the world’s population.  The number of smartphone users worldwide is surpassing 3 billion mark and by 2021 it will pass 3.8 billion mark.

Social media has changed the way we use to interact with our friends, families, and customers and changed the way we live our lives. It allows to interconnect people around the globe. Some of the main platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and more. In the past two decades, social media has grown exponentially.

According to Emarketer in 2019, social media is used by various generations which are broken into 90.4% Millennials, 77.5% Generation X and 48.2% baby boomers.

According to Globawebindex in 2019, people use social media on an average of 3 hours per day.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, a person uses social media for almost 6 years and 8 months in their whole lifetime.

It has become a very integral part of life young generations. Utilization of this tool is very important as it has to be constructive. Social media has many positives and many negative points as well.

The negative impact on mental health:

There are many negative factors which lead to psychological problems for the younger generation as they spent so much time on surfing social platforms Teenagers are engrossed in electronic gadgets and are unable to concentrate on a particular work assigned to them as a result it increases their stress level. Many students have become addicted to these social sites which distract them while trying to study. This has a negative impact on their performances.

Researchers indicates that teenagers who spend more than 2 hours a day on social media are more likely to experience mental health problems such as psychological distress.

Teenagers use autocorrect and messaging slang on social media. Rather than trying to improve writing skills, students are poorly performing in grammar.

Digital technologies and social sites all have spell checks and auto corrects which reduces student’s reliability on their own to write without spelling mistakes.

Social media is also a platform which could lead to spreading of fake news related to any group of people, caste or religious group.

Identifying fake news has become harder as individuals are paid to write sensational stories and create click bait content to increase site traffic. According to Statistica, younger consumers are often at greater risk of exposure to fake news than older generations by sheer virtue of their higher social media usage. This issue was highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, and a clear example of the extent of the problem can be seen in data on news consumption in Europe during the outbreak. People believe the spread of fake news has increased vastly (87%) through Internet use, and that online news websites and platforms are thought to provide the majority (62%) of fake news. Between 2018 and 2020, Facebook hate speech post removal has gone up by 7.1 million. A survey held in spring 2020 showed that 59.6% of 16 to 24-year-olds in North America had recently used social media for information about the coronavirus, and 59 % had come across fake news on the subject. Meanwhile, in France, almost 30 percent of 15 to 18-year-olds were using social media as their primary source of coronavirus information.

Spending long hours on social media sites decreases productivity among the youth. Social media leads teens to access pornographic content very easily which could lead to sexual misconduct. 

Teenagers have shown to give more importance to social media than friends, family, and schools. Younger generation tends to get influenced by others on social media and try to change their appearance physically and compare themselves to the influencers. Teens often get in conversations with strangers and start trusting them more than their family and friends.

Teenagers want their social status to be presentable. They want to put stories to look cool on social media. If they are not satisfied with less number of likes and encouragement by their friends for a particular post, then they get depressed.

 When peers of teens share their stories, they compare it with their own story and get depressed. It damages self-esteem and body image as well.

According to Pew Research Center, almost 45% teens get pressure only to post content on social media which makes them look good and 23% teens feel that their life is worse than others.

Using social media for a longer time causes health issues as it reduces physical activities which results in obesity. It can also severely disrupt sleep patterns by compelling teens to stay up late or wake throughout the night to check notifications. The blue light from mobile phone screens can also confuse sleep cycles. Research indicates that teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep and that not getting enough sleep can affect their health which could lead to difficulty in learning and concentrating, unhealthy eating, and weight gain and irritability.

Teenagers use social media to avoid real world issues occurring in their lives. The ability to communicate face to face is affected and this behavior can have serious effects on mental health of teens.

Cyberbullying is one of the prime issues on social media. People with negative attitude towards a person make the victim humiliate, isolate, and stressed. According to Bullying no way! And Starshell student, 72% of victims are targeted because of their looks and 87% of young people have witnessed cyberbullying of some kind. Teenagers who are victims of cyberbullying undergo psychological trauma such as embarrassment and even develop suicidal behavior.

Social media lacks proper privacy which leads to problems for teenagers such as the account can gets hacked. Other problem could be that people try to body shame when someone posts their photos and at times the comment section can be filled with insulting comments.

Teenage girls are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and are therefore at risk of having negative online experiences that can impact their development and lead to anxiety disorders and depression.

The positive impact on mental health:

Introvert people who are suffering from mental illness can have a positive impact on their mental health if they are able to express themselves on social platforms and can share their thoughts.

Social media helps to keep a person updated about the latest news and trends and can aid in improving their general knowledge.

To enhance learning, artistic expression, and public participation, young people should exploit their interest in social media. Social media links young people with a world of possibilities and a world of ideas. Students may use these instruments productively to perform studies, reach out to experts, and ask questions. These instruments often enable young people to express themselves, share their work, and gain input and inspiration. Active citizenship is promoted by social media.

People can also get inspired by their friends who are constantly posting videos on fitness and yoga and this could aid in improving their physical health. Engaging with motivational content can teach students how to express gratitude, show kindness, act with respect, and believe in their own potential. As students encounter pressures and anxieties in their daily lives, just one video or motivational quote can enhance their self-confidence and maybe even reveal their true desires in life.

There are many inspirational pages for e.g. Goalcast and inspirational personalities such as Jay Shetty and Sandeep Maheshwari who would help instill positive values and great life lessons.

There are many psychiatrists and therapists on the social media platforms where a person can reach and express about their health. There are many social media websites and channels which are providing 24 hours suicide prevention hotlines. These sites provide SMS services.

Blogging can be therapeutic for teens who are confused, down, or need to vent frustrations. When they log on to a social community, they find people to talk to and those who’ll listen.

On social media, there are many channels which could help young teenagers to share their problem which could be related to any health issue such as acne treatment, contraception etc. Many teens prefer to share their feeling online rather than sharing with their parents.

Many people go through stress as they are unable to clear competitive exams, many are not getting desired jobs and have immense pressure on themselves which could lead to depression and suicidal tendencies as well. Social media has a lot of tools which students can use for building their resumes, their skills, and upgrade themselves. Students can ask doubts on social media to their teachers and learn more.

There are many apps, websites such as Upgrade, Byjus, and Udemy which provide online learning courses to enhance skills. People can connect to various employees through LinkedIn and know about the companies and requirements and then upload their resumes in that particular company. Students can create groups on various social sites and then can collaborate and do projects together on apps such as Whatsapp, Zoom, and Google meet, etc.

So social media has both positives and negatives. It’s the teens who have to choose in which side they have to be and how their career has to be shaped. Parents have an important role in making teens understand what is right and what is wrong. Parents have to understand behavior of their children and according take action.