In my last blog post, I expressed the idea that social media hinders people’s ability to communicate and truly engage with others, overall lessening the power of language in human interactions. Building on this topic of social media’s negative effects, I want to discuss how the mental health of youth is becoming damaged and strongly influenced by the modern world’s overuse of technology, along with the impossible ideals and unreachable expectations that come with social media.
Social media is attractive, appealing, and entertaining to the developing teen brain because most youth desire to form friendships and relationships with others their age. Online platforms and apps like snapchat, youtube, and instagram allow teens to form these kinds of connections through their “24/7 access to a space in which they can share their thoughts, feelings and mutual interests” (Michael).
While social media provides teens with this seemingly beneficial opportunity, these online platforms can consume the lives of youth by ultimately creating more anxiety and stress. Tweens and teens “average six and nine hours” using media each day, which is tied directly to the mental health of young people (Michael). While some people are able to control the amount of time they spend on the internet, “20% of people” who have at least one social media account have the inclination to check them “at least once every three hours” so that they do not feel anxious (“Impact…”). This popular occurrence and feeling even has an official name now: social media anxiety disorder, which was reported by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
From personal experience, I find it extremely hard to focus on doing homework or even simple tasks and responsibilities because I feel the need or desire to go on my phone. A part of this problem is caused by procrastination, but I think that urge to respond to snap chats or scroll through tik tok and instagram is a major factor. I know that social media has caused me to feel anxious, sad, and ironically lonely, even with a device full of people’s contacts at my fingertips.
As a teen girl, I believe that teens tend to use social media platforms for validation and reassurance of their appearance, interests, and activities, relating to their desired perception of their personality and overall self in the eyes of others. I know it is so easy for kids to feel like they have to look like those people, dress like that person, be as skinny as that girl, act the same as this boy.
Social media’s potential peer pressure can cause teens to believe they are not attractive enough, “warping their body image, and in some cases, leading to an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia” (Michael). A lot of advertisements and famous influencers generally motivate people to strive for unrealistic ideals, and it genuinely can hurt people when they do not get enough likes or validating comments on their posts. I have found myself comparing the number of followers, likes, and comments I have to others, which clearly can become an unhealthy habit.
The mental state of teens can be extremely harmed by the possible destruction that social media has the ability to create. Honestly, social media can easily become exhausting, and our world would benefit from realizing the need for placing limitations and reasonable expectations for themselves when using it.
“Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health.” University of Nevada, Reno, 30 Dec. 2019, onlinedegrees.unr.edu/online-master-of-public-health/impact-of-social-media-on-youth-mental-health/.
Michael Rich, MD. “Social Media and Adolescent Body Image: What to Know.” Notes Blog, 28 Aug. 2017, notes.childrenshospital.org/social-media-adolescent-body-image/.