There is no doubt that social media is a driving force in our world today. Even young and mature adults can’t seem to ignore the popular presence of social media. In fact, it is a fast and efficient way to communicate with friends and distant family. Not to mention, an easy platform to keep up with the top news and world trending topics. So, what about our adolescents? How often do they use social media? What does it do for their mental health and well being? Most teens get an overall positive experience with social media during their adolescent years. Unfortunately, some teens experience depression, anxiety and low self esteem as a result of social media during their adolescent years.
Positive effects include building confidence in adolescents who may struggle with social anxiety and possess a lack of face to face socialization skills. Writing or texting may ease the anxiety of socializing with other adolescents through social media. There are also support groups available for adolescents who suffer from childhood trauma or deficiencies. New friendships are gained through these open online groups as well as an available platform to express feelings that may otherwise would be suppressed.
On the other hand, frequent use of social media can enable adolescents from being comfortable with interpersonal socializing that they may eventually possess a lack of social skills. Teenagers are always on their phone. We see this in grocery markets and even parties where socializing is apparent. If an adolescent’s primary form of communication is through text and social media, they may lack a skill of human connection which is a very important experience in society. Other risks include seeking self validation and acceptance from others. “Likes” and “views” are popular aspects on media and often indicate the reputation status of that person giving others a false reality that may result in comparison. Comparing physical attributes and perceived success with a friend or public figure online may cause adolescents to feel inadequate, inferior or unsatisfied with their own life.
Although there are great attributes of social media on adolescents, there are also negative effects. The key is balance. Young people can be active on the internet and learn to enjoy the physical presence of their surroundings. Parents can encourage this healthy balance by having family time which consist of face to face talking and heart to heart discussions that do not include phones or laptops. Most healthy adolescents grow into healthy adults. After all, the adolescent years are the years to remember. Let’s make the best of it!