The Negative Effects of Social Media on Teenagers
Social media can do a lot of good, such as helping people stay connected and share important events with each other, but it can also do a lot of harm, particularly for teenagers.
In a study presented on September 11, 2015 at The British Psychological Society Development and Social Psychology Section Annual Conference in Manchester, UK, scientists concluded that teenagers who use and have a high emotional investment in social media experience reduced sleep quality, lower self-esteem and more anxiety and depression than those who are less emotionally invested.
Reasons for this seem to be due to the pressure teenagers feel when they aren’t available 24/7 to reply to posts, as well as the anxiety that comes from feeling like they will miss out on things if they aren’t tending to their social media accounts constantly. Poor sleep seems to further worsen the problems of anxiety and depression.
The effects seemed to be especially negative when social media was used at night. That’s why a member of the research team, Dr. Heather Cleland Woods suggests using a “digital sunset” to reduce the negative effects of social media. In other words, turn off all digital devices (and the blue light they emit) at sunset. This allows your internal clock to get on the right track so that sleep becomes a natural part of the night instead of a struggle.
Additional Negative Effects of Social Media on Teenagers:
- Social media can lead teenage girls to feel deceived, which also leads to stress and depression.
- Teenagers often feel compelled to increase their number of Facebook friends or Instagram followers with little realization that these “friendships” aren’t real or fulfilling. This can cause them to put time into fostering unreal friendships instead of focusing on actual relationships, which can cause them to feel even more lonely.
- Although social media can be positive when it is used to connect with real friends and loved ones, more often than not, it is used to seek validation instead. Teenagers crave the recognition it provides them with, and this can lead to self-esteem issues.
What Can Parents Do?
- Know what your child is posting and how he or she is interacting on social media.
- Teach your child how to seek healthy sources of validation and relationships by fostering real relationships with friends, family members and teachers.
- Look for positive and negative triggers in your child’s life.
- Let sunset be everyone’s trigger to turn off digital devices and start winding down.
- Foster a healthy balance between exposure to social media and real life activities.