This page is to demonstrate to adults and raise awareness of how social media affects the mental health of teenagers. I have noticed that platforms like Instagram make teens have low self-esteem, FOMO, and can foster some forms of cyberbullying.
Social media controls the lives of teenagers in this day and age. Social media is amazing for young people to keep in touch with their friends, get involved in something they care about, and to have something to laugh about. It can also be a recluse for LGBTQ+ adolescents because they can find others going through the same things as them and support groups. But, there are a lot of downsides to social media. The more and more young people are engaging in social media, the more they might be getting less sleep, their self-esteem decreases, and they have a chance of obtaining depression or anxiety because they feel as though they need to keep up with everything all the time. Many teens compare themselves to others on social media showing their fancy vacation or their latest outfit. Thus, loneliness and jealousy can occur. Also, teens can turn to social media to find advice which can be wrong and cyberbullying and online fights are present.
I sent out a survey from my school and asked “How does social media make you feel and does it affect your mental health? These are the comments that I got:
It makes me feel more self conscious than I think it would without it. It often makes me feel like I’m missing out on things that other people are doing and that my life isn’t as good as others. In reality everyone feels the same way. My mental health has been affected by the presence of social media in my life.
I think always having my life on display for other people makes it really hard to relax and unwind. There’s also an expectation to always be available, which is highly stressful because people can’t always be available and asking us to stretch ourselves like that is lot. Part of what adds to the stress is the belief that if you’re not constantly responding then you don’t really love your friends, which is fake. And even though people know the expectation is unreasonable, it’s still subscribed to by many many people. Social media, in my experience, creates pressure to always be doing stuff that other people will find interesting or aesthetic, or always be styling my life around what other people think. Already, as teenagers, we’re programmed to be overly-conscious of our community’s opinion of us, but adding these additional pressures makes everything that much harder. Whoop. Sick. Ride bikes. Be sick. Love yourself.
I don’t have social media so I feel unaffected.
It’s sort of all over the place but essentially social media in general doesn’t make me feel great about myself. It’s not so much the interactions I have with people I legitimately know it’s more like what I see becoming trends that id say negatively affects my mental health. I sort of feel like every time I go on Instagram (cause that’s the only social media platform I actually use) I’m seeing one certain type of person, specifically type of woman, being portrayed. I think you know what type I’m talking about like skinny instagram model types you know the kind that don’t actually work they just swim in Fiji all day and at first I’m like wow I wanna be like that because then the people I’m attracted to would actually look in my direction but then I think like no no I’m better than that I just need to have self confidence. But it’s SO HARD to have self confidence when what you’re told over and over again is that in order to be given attention in any form you must look like that… so I’d say social media’s not great… however I do think it’s a cool way to stay in touch with friends and see what say like artists or athletes etc are up to I just feel like the culture that’s developed on instagram (and probably other platforms) is pretty harmful.
How parents/adults can help their teen with social media:
- Educate themselves in how teens/their teen(s) use social media
- Ask them what accounts they have and how they use them
- Have conversations with their child on how to be safe online
- Tell them to be wary about strangers and sensitive content
- Try to help them minimize their time on their phones/social media
- This will help them be able to get out of the social media world and let them be able to have a break from it
- Parents should talk to their children about how not to be as affected by how other people to present their lives on social media. Parents should encourage their teen to feel confident in themselves and not to worry about others
Lauren Mazza, the author: