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The Impact of Social Media on Teen Mental Health

The Impact of Social Media on Teen Mental Health

Social media is just that – a social outlet that allows people to engage with others, create a unique online persona, and learn about the world. While social media can offer many benefits to users, it also has some potentially serious consequences to mental health, especially for teenagers. Can you prevent your teen from using social media? Probably not. What you can do is provide your teen with strategies for healthy social media use and know how to monitor their mental health.

Recognize the Risks of Teen Social Media Use

Social media consumes a huge part of teens’ lives. A Pew Research Study found some interesting statistics on the use of social media in teens between the ages of 13 and 17:

  • 1 in five teens say they use YouTube almost constantly, while 95% of people say they use the video streaming service in general.
  • 54% of teens say they would have a very difficult time giving up social media
  • 67% of teens say they’ve used TikTok.
  • Nearly 95% of teens have access to a smartphone.
  • 97% of teens say they use the internet daily.

It’s clear – social media is here to stay. Yet, it can also be one of the most toxic environments for teen mental health.

When Is Social Media Bad for Teen Mental Health?

Social media plays a direct role in a teen’s life in various ways. Its effects on mental health will depend on various factors, including:

  • What type of content the teen sees and interacts with online
  • The amount of time spent on social media
  • Individual psychological factors, such as maturity level and any pre-existing mental health challenges
  • Their personal life circumstances, including economic, social, and cultural influences

Each teen’s reaction to social media will differ. Yet, one thing is for sure – what they see on social media can negatively impact ego-fragile teens. Some of the negative impacts on well-being that can occur with social media include these examples:

  • Intense peer pressure: The constant and intense barrage of peer pressure that is possible on social media far exceeds what happens in person. “Keyboard warriors” can be brutal and anxiety in teens is very real.
  • Self-esteem concerns: Teens who cannot keep up with other teens on social media can face intense challenges. Even though what happens on social media is fleeting, teens are constantly trying to compete and remain relevant with other teens.
  • Large-scale bullying: With social media, it’s not just a few people in a classroom that can bully but an entire globe of people pressuring and judging each other.

For all of these reasons, parents need to recognize the intensity of social media and how damaging it can be to overall well-being.

How to Maintain a Healthy Online Presence 

It’s easy for teens to get wrapped up in social media. Social media is also very easy to access even if a parent puts blocks on their teen’s phone. The bottom line is: you need to teach your teen how to navigate social media in a way that minimizes the harm it can do. Here are some tips that can help keep communication with your teen open.

  • Make them take a break: Create opportunities for your teen to interact with people in real life, such as in clubs and sports. Their days should consist primarily of face-to-face interactions.
  • Manage challenging behaviors: When a teen’s social media use changes, you may notice them change, too. They may become aggressive or use statements that are not appropriate in your home. Make sure you communicate what is acceptable and what is not in your household.
  • Monitor your child’s account: This is very important, especially for younger teens in middle school who are most vulnerable to bullying. Read more on how to monitor a social media account. 
  • Talk about reality: When it comes down to it, social media is often “fake” and does not represent the way people live their lives. Find evidence of this and use it to help your teen see beneath the surface of social media.
  • Build strong mental health systems: If you notice your teen struggling with mental health concerns, get support from a professional therapist who can meet with your teen individually or with the entire family. 

Let Our Team at Willow Creek Behavioral Health Be There for Your Teen

With comprehensive, teen-focused mental health services, Willow Creek Behavioral Health is a resource for your family. Reach out to us for immediate help so we can support you and your teen.

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