Introduction

20 years ago, it definitely wasn’t normal to see a teen carrying a smartphone around seemingly 24/7, constantly checking their various social media accounts. Nowadays, social media seems to be an important part of the average teenager’s life. Thousands of teens are currently involved in popular platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.

The availability of social media can bring positive effects to teenagers, such as allowing them to communicate and form positive interactions with people who live far away. They can also form new friendships and possibly find support amongst other teens when they are in need of it.

However, social media can have negative effects on teens’ mental health as well, such as causing them to feel pressured to be online all the time or exposing them to potential cyberbullying, both of which can affect a teen’s happiness and self-esteem.

Even though terminating the use of social media completely is an option, parents and teens should instead work together to set reasonable limits on time spent using social media because its use can contain positive effects on mental health as well.

Positive Effects

Social media can bring positive effects to teens’ mental health, such as allowing them to stay in touch with people who live far away. If friends have moved away, they can still remain in contact through social media, which can help keep the friendship alive and can improve the teen’s happiness, which improves their mental health.

Social media platforms can also give teens a place to feel comfortable expressing themselves and to get support and help when they need it. According to a study performed by senior research scientist Linda Charmaraman, more than half of teens in the study reported giving and receiving emotional support online. This can help teens who are struggling with mental illness or are having trouble with finding their identity. Receiving support from other people through social media can help improve their happiness, which is a positive effect on their mental health.

Negative Effects

Even with its positive effects, social media can have a negative effect on teens’ mental health as well.

One issue teens may face upon using social media is the fear of missing out (FOMO). Teens may feel pressured to stay constantly active on their various social media platforms to avoid missing out on anything their friends may be apart of. This fear can lead them to prioritize their social media lives over in-person communication or over healthy sleeping habits, as they may wake up in the middle of the night to check social media. Lack of sleep and in-person communication can both lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, a negative effect on a teen’s mental health.

Social media can also expose teens to cyberbullying. This type of harsh treatment can have severe effects on a teen’s mental health. A bullied teen can easily experience low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, and/or anxiety and may even consider or commit suicide.

Reasonable Solutions

If social media is taking a toll on a teen’s mental health, it may seem reasonable for them to do away with it completely. However, this may not be a good solution, as separating the teen from social media altogether may worsen any negative emotions. This is because doing away with social media completely will also take away the positive experiences that teens may have, such as chatting with friends from far away or receiving a healthy amount of support online. If a teen is taken away from these positive experiences that they may have been enjoying, they might end up feeling worse.

Because all teens are different, as well as their issues with social media, it is important for parents and teens to work together to find what exactly is causing their negative feelings and how they can resolve them. Perhaps there is a certain aspect of a social media platform that is bothering the teen, or maybe it is the entire platform altogether or the people they are surrounded by that they need to avoid. Different teens require different solutions to their problems, and it is important for teens and parents to communicate effectively to identify these problems and solutions. By taking this approach, parents can help teens limit their time spent on social media to a reasonable, healthy amount, or do away with it altogether if need be, which can help improve their mental health overall.

Conclusion

In conclusion, social media can have both positive and negative effects on teens’ mental health. If a teen’s mental health is starting to become negatively affected by social media, it is important for parents and teens to work together to find the cause of their negative feelings and to work out reasonable limitations to time spent on social media. By doing this, there should be an improvement in teens’ mental health overall.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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