Social media and the effects on American adolescents

The effect of social media on adolescents has been studied increasingly as social media have become more prevalent. By using social media, adolescents can develop issues associated with mental health, but positive effects are also present.


Positive impactsEdit

Social media may positively affect adolescents by promoting a feeling of inclusion, providing greater access to more friends, and enhancing romantic relationships. Social Media is proven to allow people to communicate with people, no matter how far away they are from each other.[1] Some adolescents with social and emotional issues feel more included with social media and online activities.[2] As social media usage has risen, the typical adolescent in the United States has become less socially isolated and more likely to linger in public spaces, because social media have changed the ways that they are able to interact in public spaces. Social media can give people a sense of belonging which can lead to an increase in identity development. Adolescents that post pictures on social media can look back on his memorable moments and this positive emotion can be related to a sense of their true identity.[1] Additionally, social media provide a way to communicate with friends and family when alone.[3]

Adolescents who use social media tend to be more outgoing and interact more with others online and in person. According to Newport Academy, teens who spend more time on non- screen activities, such as sports, exercise, in-person social interaction, or any other in-person activities are less likely to report any mental issue, sucah as anxiety or depression. Vivek, Hans. (2019) The Effect of Social Media on Teenagers. Social media provide adolescents within the United States the ability to connect with people from other countries. Being involved in social media typically improves communication skills, social connections, and technical skills. Furthermore, adolescents who are students can use social media to seek academic help.[4] The appropriate usage of social media has developed favourable academic environments for both, the students and the teaching faculty, offering them potential benefits in the process of learning information.[5]

Social Media also allows for the expression of creativity and can display people's interests and talents digitally. For example, high schoolers can feel more connected with their community by seeing what everyone is being involved in. When adolescents use the app Instagram, what they are reading and who they follow is based on their interests. When engaging in this, they are exploring and learning new things regarding their interests.[1] According to the Mayo Clinic, these platforms can expose teens to current events and teach them many things, such as developing healthy habits. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019) Teens and Social Media Use: Whats The Impact?.

Some social media platforms are also used for entertainment. For example, the app Vine consists of videos that are intended to create a positive response from the audience.[1]

Negative impactsEdit

Social comparison theory examines how people establish their personal value by comparing themselves to others.[6] These social comparisons and related feelings of jealousy, when made on social media platforms, can lead to the development of symptoms of depression in users.[7] Depression is common also for children and adolescents who have been cyberbullied.[8] According to Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2015, nationwide, 15.5% of students had been electronically bullied, counting being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting, during the 12 months before the survey.[9] Using 7 or more social media platforms has been correlated with a higher risk of anxiety and depression in adolescents.[10] While making friends is possible on social media, adolescents using social media may experience loneliness and question others' genuineness.[11] The parents of adolescents may not understand social media fully and are concerned about safety and the effect of social media on social development.[12] The increased role of social media and technology in adolescents' daily communications may affect their development of in-person relationships. Increased social media usage may impact how adolescents socialize face-to-face, leading to social isolation when faced with self-doubt or a lack of confidence.[13] Social media can significantly influence body image concerns in female adolescents.[14] Young women who are easily influenced by the images of others on social media may hold themselves to an unrealistic standard for their bodies because of the prevalence of digital image alteration. Engaging with social media platforms two hours before falling asleep can seriously effect sleep quality, and a longer duration of digital media use is associated with reduced total sleep time.[15] The phenomena of "Facebook depression" is a condition which comes to surface when young adults have a higher usage of Facebook and tend to manifest the actual symptoms of depression.[16] Youths who frequently use social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who dedicate themselves to outdoor activities don't have that much risk.[17] Health Social media has effects on the physical health of teens impacting their development with both short- and long-term consequences. Sleep deprivation may also be another common factor in teens. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 2016 study that was conducted to more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use and emotional investment in social media, such as feeling upset when prevented from logging on, were each linked with worse sleep quality that could increase the levels of anxiety and depression. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Teens and Social Media Use: What's The Impact?

With the amount of access teens have to social media the, “harmful consequences include health problems emotional problems, including suicide, internet addiction, including video game addiction; risky Internet use; and social/functional impairment. (Guinta & John, 2018, p.1).” Each of the following issues can lead to secondary complications from their academic performances to health behaviors that are impacted upon their lives indirectly. In addition, it increases their risk or worsens their current health conditions with a lack of care or time for their health condition. Research has shown how YouTube has been a good learning tool for many students and how it has proven to be a medium where students are able to learn any type of subject they want and many people have been self taught through this medium; however not everything that is on YouTube is to help us improve our academic performance. Social media such as YouTube has also proven to distract people from doing their homework and studies show how many students in college procrastinate for many hours by watching YouTube or scrolling through other social media.[18]Social media can be a distraction, with 99% of adolescents using social media for an average of nine out of the 24 hour day.[19]

Social Media has shown that it creates an environment where everyone feels as if they have to look and act a certain way.[1] Adolescents are feeling “judged” when they post on Instagram and worry constantly if their post will reach a certain number of likes and if the social community will accept them.[1] Teens often will even look for a friends acceptance of a picture they want to post.[1] If they receive negative feedback, this allows for a decrease in their self-esteem.[1] For example, Facebook is correlated with girls feeling dissatisfied with their weight. Other concerns with social media on adolescents is anxiety and stress.[1] This can be from jealousy and also the  fear of missing out or not looking like everyone else.[1] From the month of January to March 2016, a survey displaying 44 questions was given to patients at the Adolescent Medicine and General Academics Pediatric outpatient offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[19] This survey's participants ranged from 11 to 22. [19]The results of this survey concluded that if a person receives a higher PHQ-9 score, reported that they have increased feelings of depression and anxiety after social media use.[19]Higher scores also showed there was greater occurrence of jealousy and the participants comparing their life to others on social media. When it comes to communication, adolescents can feel overwhelmed at times by how many messages they are receiving and the negative stigma that is behind not answering. [19]


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