By Daisy Wong
97% of teens aged 13-17 years old use a social media platform like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. This fast-growing number has called to attention the effects of social media on teens’ mental health. In what way has social media been affecting mental health?
As teens, it’s easy to make the “one more…” excuse. “One more TikTok, one more YouTube video, one more minute.” Unfortunately, these excuses turn into hours of use for social media taking away valuable time. These countless hours online cut away from their sleep and diminish their engagement in the real world. Problematically, the longer a teen spends online, the more exasperated their mental health becomes. The effects of social isolation are dangerous since we live in a social world. Staying online for long periods of time often causes users to develop the sense that the world is too hurtful or too dangerous, leading to anxiety and depression. These aren’t the only impacts.
Consider this: a girl puts on her best makeup, and smiles her biggest grin. She snaps a selfie to upload and post online. In an hour she checks back on her post. It’s only gotten 100 likes. Disappointment hits her. Why am I getting such a small amount of likes? I’m so ugly. I will never be as beautiful as that other girl. This “culture of comparison” can lead to negative mindsets and puts teens at risk for depression and isolation.
Another student just simply can’t put their phone down. The constant notifications and dings make them feel like they are missing out. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) keeps teens glued to their phones, causing them to miss out on sleep. The artificial light in our technology disrupts our sleep, causing sleep deprivation, which is linked to increased anxiety, stress, and substance abuse.
Despite the mental health impacts, social media is still a great way to connect with friends, gain exposure to current world problems, and provide entertainment. To prevent the negative harms of social media, try keeping your social media down to a couple of hours at a maximum. Go on a vacation and try not posting on social media. Get together with your friends in person instead of hanging out by your computer all day. As technology grows, social media has become imperative to our daily lives. The difference is how we let it affect us.