Social Media Effects on Teens
Nearly three-thirds of teens have social media profiles, but is social killing your teenager? Discover how these platforms can be detrimental to their emotional and mental health.
Do you know how social media effects teens? Social media has become a standard way for teenagers to connect. Smartphones and laptops have long since replaced corded landlines. Many teenagers won’t even leave their house without one of these devices in tow. And Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter are some of the top mobile apps they download.
Social media gives teens a way to interact with their peers without being face-to-face. Most young people engage on at least one of these platforms each day. But it sometimes does more harm than good.
7 Ways Social Media Can Effect Teenagers
Here are the top ways social platforms can harm or even kill your teenager:
1) Social Bullying
Growing up, most everyone knew a class bully. Before technology took off, kids only had to deal with bullies at school. Today, teens all-too-frequently come in contact with bullies online. Cyberbullying is one of the leading downsides of social media. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 20% of children ages 12-18 will experience bullying at some point. And 15% will experience online bullying.
Experts define social bullying as any type of unwanted, aggressive behavior. It may include verbal, physical, or implied threats. Often, bullies will threaten their targets online. This makes the attack visible to the victim’s friends and peers. This type of harmful behavior creates an imbalance of power, often giving an unfair advantage to the bully. Social bullying may be a one-time occurrence or happen repeatedly.
These are the methods bullies use to assert dominance:
- Purposely leaving someone out
- Spreading rumors or lies about another person
- Publicly embarrassing a peer
- Telling others not to socialize with a targeted classmate
There are two categories of social bullying: direct and indirect. Direct bullying happens whenever someone personally threatens a victim. They may do this verbally, either face-to-face or on the phone. They may also write a direct message, letter, or text message to their target. Indirect bullying is when someone tells others to avoid a specific person. The bully may spread gossip via group messages, social media posts, or in person.
Hateful words hurt, and they can damage a teen’s self-esteem. Cyberbullying can even have long-term effects on a teenager’s mental health. Repeated harassment may leave the victim feeling helpless, depressed, and anxious. Social bullying also increases the risk of self-harm or suicide.
2) Social Peer Pressure
Teenagers just want to fit in with their peers. This mindset sometimes influences young people to engage in risky or harmful behaviors. Social peer pressure occurs whenever someone directly influences a teen to conform to the group. Teens believe that since everyone else has tried something, they should too. But this social pressure usually comes with negative consequences.
Peer pressure often encourages teenagers to try dangerous substances, like drugs or alcohol. They may skip school, shoplift, or defy authority figures. Some also experiment sexually just to be part of the crowd.
While peer pressure isn’t anything new, when combined with social media, it can become deadly. Teenagers may watch influencers attempt dangerous or illegal stunts and try to recreate them. Others may simply mimic their peer’s unhealthy behaviors just to look “cool.” Teaching a teen how to recognize and ignore peer pressure could save their life.
3) Social Inadequacy
Many social posts don’t accurately reflect the “real world,” but impressionable teens may take these posts as fact. Online, everyone else appears to live the ideal life. Picture-perfect content can leave a teenager feeling inadequate. They wonder why their own life isn’t like those portrayed on social media.
Teenagers often compare their own social engagements with others. They may feel rejected if a photo doesn’t get “enough” likes. And constantly trying to top a previous post can cause anxiety.
Being a teenager is tough. Hormonal fluctuations often control their emotions. Mood swings, family arguments, and conflicts with friends may exacerbate feelings of inadequacy. Without guidance, a teen may look for other ways to self-medicate or cope.
4) Social Humiliation
Everyone has skeletons in their closet. But the last thing a teenager wants is for everyone to know their deep, dark secrets. Some people, however, purposely leak private information about others online. Paparazzi often do this with celebrities. Today, social humiliation has become a dangerous trend among teenagers.
Friends often swap private photos, videos, and secrets with each other. But sharing these intimate details online may emotionally hurt a teen. Sometimes, friends accidentally leak personal information. However, others do it just to embarrass a targeted peer or ruin their reputation.
Social humiliation can destroy a person’s image and self-esteem. Victims often feel judged by the world. Some teens may even want to switch schools to avoid ridicule from classmates. Without proper intervention, this type of social embarrassment may lead to thoughts of suicide.
5) Social Ostracization or Banishment
Teens want to sit with the popular kids at lunch. They participate in lots of after-school actives and invite everyone to their birthday parties. Socialization is human nature, and it’s essential for teenagers. These interactions make teens feel wanted and accepted. But social ostracization can leave them feeling alone.
Social media draws even more attention to how many friends a person has. Teenagers often equate their self-worth to the number of followers and likes they get. And when someone publicly unfriends a teen online, it leaves them feeling abandoned and betrayed.
Social banishment is painful for teenagers. They often blame themselves for the rejection. Losing online friends can also negatively affect how a teen trusts future relationships. This type of cancel culture is a leading cause of depression and self-harm.
6) Social Anxiety
As social platforms become more popular, so does online socialization. Teenagers use technology to keep in touch with friends. It’s even a helpful way to network with others. Being able to communicate online is crucial. But it doesn’t replace in-person interactions.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, kids looked forward to mingling with friends. They would chat in school and hang out on the weekends. But quarantines and lockdowns left teenagers socially starved. As the world reopened, many teens developed social anxiety.
Common signs of social anxiety include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Shaking and trembling
- Needless worrying
- Avoiding social activities
- Skipping school
- Irritability & mood swings
During the pandemic, kids became dependent on devices to communicate. They forgot how to interact with each other face-to-face. Now that things have started to return to normal, teenagers can’t avoid all social situations. It’s also unhealthy to try. Social anxiety often gets worse over time, but counseling can help improve a teen’s ability to function in the real world.
7) Social-Addicted Parents
Teens aren’t the only ones consuming tons of social media. Adults are just as guilty. If a parent becomes engulfed with maintaining an online image, it can negatively impact their kids. Social-addicted parents prioritize online posts over their children. This type of neglect may stunt a teen’s emotional growth.
Drugs and alcohol are the most commonly abused substances. But few realize the addictive nature of social media. Addicted parents may consume hours upon hours of social media each day. Work, chores, and even raising their child take a backseat to a parent’s online activities. Indications of social addiction may include:
- Uses social media to forget about personal problems
- Gets irritable if they are unable to use social platforms
- Scrolls social media for several hours a day
- Experiences anxiety without their mobile device
- Neglects family and friends
- Overthinks social media posts
Kids thrive in nurturing, supportive environments. Parents with an addiction disorder cannot provide this type of home life. Teenagers may live in a chaotic home and have to fend for themselves. Further, teens of addicted parents are more likely to struggle with addiction later on in life. Children of social-addicted parents may become withdrawn or depressed.
The Dangers of Consuming Too Much Social Media
Social media changed the way people connect with the world. A single post can reach millions of people in an instant. These platforms may sound exciting at first, but they can be dangerous for young people.
A child’s brain reaches its maximum size during adolescence. But that doesn’t mean it stops growing altogether. Puberty is also a crucial time for emotional and cognitive development. The brain continues to mature until a person reaches their mid to late 20s. Teenagers are not emotionally equipped to handle the consequences of 24/7 social consumption.
Here are some health risks that may arise from consuming too much social media:
There seems to be a link between social media and depression in teenagers. The more platforms a child uses, the greater the risk. Symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness or despair
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
A teen who relies heavily on social media may become distant from reality. Reducing their online usage may be the first step towards overcoming depression.
Social media is an emotional investment for teenagers. They use the platforms to express themselves and stay relevant in their circle of friends. But the desire to produce entertaining posts can overwhelm a young person. The pressure to take the perfect photo or write a witty caption can lead to severe anxiety.
The CDC reports that teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep per day. Constant social media scrolling can prevent a teen from getting enough rest. Some may even develop insomnia. And sleep deprivation may lead to mood swings, overeating, or a drop in grades. If left untreated, it can even exacerbate ADHD symptoms or increase the risk of infection. Limiting social media usage can help teens get a good night’s sleep.
How Parents Can Help a Teen Overcome Social Dependence
Healthy social media use starts a home. As much as teenagers don’t want to admit it, they rely on their parents for guidance. Parents teach their kids right from wrong, and it’s up to them to set a good example. Here’s how:
Set Boundaries and Limits
Social platforms operate around the clock. But teenagers need time away from their devices for meals, homework, in-person activities, and sleep. Asking teens to turn off their devices at night is an excellent place to start. Consider removing devices from a teen’s bedroom to reduce temptation. To make these boundaries work, parents should also follow them.
Monitor Social Activities
Parents should routinely check their child’s social media accounts. If teenagers know their parents might see a post, they’ll think twice about what they share. And reviewing posts also gives parents a glimpse into their kid’s triumphs or struggles.
Explain the Dangers of Social Platforms
Social media is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Parents should be upfront about what’s is safe or not safe to post online. Teaching a teen about the dangers of cyberbullying and online predators is critical.
Non-Judgmental Counseling for Teens
Teenagers face challenges every day. The pressure to be perfect is often overwhelming, and technology only adds to the mix. Social platforms are one place teens go to express themselves online, but these outlets can also affect their mental health. Your child may begin to act out at school or become reclusive at home. Some teens even develop depression, anxiety, or contemplate suicide.
Not every teenager feels comfortable talking to their parents about their mental health. Instead, they bottle up their feelings until they reach a breaking point. But there is hope. Counseling can help teens struggling with social media addiction, peer pressure, or cyberbullying.
At New Life 360°, our counselors understand the trials and tribulations teenagers face daily. Whether your teenager struggles with social media addiction, cyberbullying, or peer pressure, we know how to help. Our team takes a holistic approach to treat a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Compassion is at the core of everything we do. When your teen comes to New Life 360°, we’ll help them develop the right treatment plan. We offer private counseling, group therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy to support your teen during these challenging years.
Worried about the ways social is effecting your teenager? Schedule a consultation to discuss the best treatment options for your teen.