Social Media and Teens

Published by Internet Addiction Center on

How Social Media Influences Youth

Today’s teens have been growing up surrounded by social media. It’s impossible to escape this new world of sharing, posting, reacting, and commenting.

Social Media and Mental Health – What Science Teaches Us

There have been many studies looking at anxiety and the other mental health effects of social media on young people. Social media makes young people more vulnerable to different forms of abuse, such as cyberbullying, sexual harassment, or being the target of a predator. By frequently “checking-in,” children and teens are revealing their location, and, often, their habits and possessions. In this way, they could unintentionally lead a stalker, predator, robber, or other unwanted person to them. Their posting habits can also make it easier for them to be targets of cons, phishing scams, and identity theft. In frequently posting, particularly publicly, children and teens are exposing themselves to many types of risks.

Besides the risks listed above, there are also some concerning effects of social media use on mental health. Social media use has been found, in some cases, to lead to problems such as depression and anxiety. These have been associated with social media’s ability to drastically lower self-esteem and increase anxiety. When we combine this with the studies showing that using social media lowers an adolescent’s academic achievements, we might be facing a perfect storm.

Kids seem to get some amount of gratification from social networking. This makes parents’ attempts to limit it that much more difficult. Social media provides information and also allows them to exchange affection, socialize, and discuss personal and social problems with their peers.

However, social media use comes at a cost. Social media platforms often target users with content and advertisments, fake news, images/content that may not be appropriate, and also can create connections and relationships with people who are not who they appear to be.

So how, as a parent, can you help fight these risks? Keep an open dialogue with your child and monitor their social media use. Talk openly about the risks of posting, checking in, and messaging (especially with people they do not know). Make sure that their online relationships are healthy, positive interactions without bullying or other anxiety-provoking behaviors. Children and teens are less likely to get into trouble on social media if they know that their usage is being monitored. Also, make sure their mobile devices stay out of the bedroom at night so that they can get the restful sleep that a growing person needs.

If you are finding it is impossible to moderate your child’s social media use, they may have a problem with technology/internet addiction which can impact their life and mental health. See a psychiatrist who specializes in this area for advice on how to help your child.

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