Mental health amongst teens has always been a topic of discussion. All teenagers have struggled with mental health to a degree, specifically the younger generations. This could be because of many reasons, but a factor that stands out from all other generations is the fact that this generation has a new tool- social media. Social media can be used in many positive ways, but it can also be a source of major anxiety and pressure.
In a database I found on EBSCO, the study shows that the rate of teens who use social media directly correlates to their mental health. The more the teen uses social media, the more likely they are to be depressed. “Three-quarters of the adolescents in both groups reported that they used SNSs [Social Network Sites] daily. Although all participants seemed to use SNSs for several purposes, the time spent on SNSs increased with depressive symptoms.”
There are many factors that link social media use to teens mental health. One of these factors is teenagers comparing themselves to people they see online. “If you want to evaluate how quickly you ran a race, you might compare your time to other runners’. If you’re interested in determining how well you’re doing in a class, you probably want to know what your grade is relative to the grades of your classmates’. It’s not so different for physical attractiveness. We seem to have an innate drive to know where we stand in the beauty race, so we often can’t help but compare ourselves to all the impossibly beautiful media images we see (EngeIn, 2018).” This quote perfectly exemplifies what it is like when humans compare themselves to what they see in the media. There are unrealistic images of famous people that teenagers see on social media that make huge dents in their self esteem, even if they are aware the images are unrealistic. Just being exposed to those images not only can make teenagers feel bad about themselves, but also will make them try and strive to look like something that is unattainable. This can potentially create and unhealthy obsession of what they want to look like.
Another factor that is linked to media and its effect on mental health is how it can come in between personal relationships. In the article Mobile Devices Are Detrimental to Personal Relationships it explains how the availability of entertainment at our fingertips can cause us to be more interested in what we see on our phones than the person sitting right in front of us. This can create unrealistic relationships that we have online rather than creating real relationships in person. Having access to contact anyone we want at anytime we want makes it easier to feel like we have relationships, without really having a personal relationship. For example, a celebrity can tweet to their fans making their fans feel like they know the specific celebrity without really knowing them. This can make it harder for people to want real relationships, because the relationship they have with social media is so much more glamorous.
Social media has many pros and cons, but the reality is social media is affecting teens mental health. Whether that be through comparing themselves to unrealistic images or hindering social skills.