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The Psychology of Teenagers and Social Media: Insights for Parents

Most parents constantly worry about their toddlers and how they get exposed to all sorts of technology these days. But what many parents don’t realize is that the adolescent years are also as critical, if not more. 

Studies even revealed that experts are concerned about how social media has become too integral in the lives of teenagers to the point that it’s starting to result in reduced self-esteem and even anxiety. 

As a parent in this digital age, it’s imperative to learn how to navigate the rather intricate connection between teenagers and social media. 

Social Media and Its Effects on the Mental Health of Teenagers

Do social media platforms and teenagers go well together, or is social media the root cause of poor health and well-being among adolescents? Is social media that bad? These are just some of the most controversial concerns when it comes to social media and its effects on teenagers, with studies revealing contrasting results. 

It’s revealed that most young people claim that social media is extremely critical for them to creatively express themselves, get the advice and support they need, and feel less alone and lonely. Of course, they also turn to social media to keep in touch with their family members and friends. 

And then, some teenagers use social media because it makes them feel much better every time they feel anxious, stressed, or depressed. Teenagers who belong to the LGBTQ community also said that thanks to social media, they feel better whenever they go through some rather difficult emotions. 

However, as mentioned earlier, the results are quite varied because it has been discovered that there is a strong connection between social media and depression among teenagers. Teens who exhibit severe symptoms of depression have a higher chance of using social media almost all the time. Some teens suffering from depression constantly use social media as compared to those who don’t show depressive symptoms. 

Along this line, when the symptoms are more severe, teens also tend to feel lonelier, more anxious, and more depressed after they use social media. It’s also been found that those teenagers who spend over three hours or even longer every day browsing social media are more at risk of inflicting self-harm. Parents should consider using cell phone monitoring apps like Mobile Spy to keep an eye on their phone usage.

Having said all of these, it’s clear to see that social media isn’t any help at all to teenagers who are already suffering from depression, as it only seems to make their negative outlook worse. 

Other Psychological Effects of Social Media on Teenagers 

In addition to the contrasting effects stated above, here are other ways that social media affects the psychology of teenagers.

  • Exposure to cyberbullying 

Cyberbullying may involve having private, false, or harmful content about them posted or shared on social media. 

  • Insufficient sleep 

Many teenagers tend to stay up too late because they are busy scrolling and browsing their social media feeds. 

  • Inadequate physical activity 

When teens constantly scroll social media on their devices, they end up sitting for longer hours with little to no time for physical activities like exercise. It results in them missing out on the benefits that exercise has not just on their body but also on their mind. 

Potential Risks of Social Media Addiction 

Another concerning problem when it comes to social media psychology is the risk of social media addiction. While health authorities haven’t recognized social media addiction as an official mental health disorder yet, parents must know the warning signs they should watch out for. 

Among the most common symptoms of social media addiction among teenagers includes:

  • Experiencing negative effects on grades and schoolwork because of overuse of social media. 
  • Exhibiting anger when others try to cut down their use of social media
  • Preoccupation with social media despite not using it at the moment
  • Using social media to regulate mood or cope with negative issues 

Teenagers who may be addicted to social media may experience numerous negative effects, such as:

  • Depression and anxiety, which include social anxiety disorder
  • Increased feelings of isolation and loneliness 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of sleep
  • Suppressed ability to empathize with other people 

Tips to Improve Social Media Use of Teens 

Therapists studying the psychology of social media can help teens who are having a hard time using the platforms by encouraging them to cut down the time they spend online. For parents, it’s best to replace the time your teens spend online with activities in the real world. Doing so can help teens hone their ability to form healthier relationships and enjoy better interactions with their peers in the offline environment. 

It might also be a big help to encourage teenagers to set specific limits. For example, you can try to establish a particular window of time every week or every day when they can use social media. Teenagers can also disable the notifications of apps to prevent them from being tempted to go online as often. 

There are also instances where teens may benefit from consulting a therapist or mental health counselor. It can be especially helpful if they find it difficult to reduce or eliminate their social media use by themselves. 

Wrapping It Up

Teenagers and social media don’t have to be an arch-nemesis. So long as parents are there to guide their adolescent children, social media may bring many benefits to the table that teens can use as they grow older