Teen Social Media Use and Mental Health
Depression and suicidal thoughts are on the rise among adolescents. A University of Pittsburgh study found that, “negative experiences (on social media) were strongly and consistently associated with higher depressive symptoms.”
Social media has changed the way we interact with each other, and how we view the world. Teens, “can get lost in unrealistic comparisons, cyberbullying, and feeling left out.” The rise of technology and increased teen social media use can lead to depressive episodes. Research shows depression went from, “8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014 in adolescents.” The main difference from 2005 to 2014 is the onset of social media.
What’s Causing Depression Among Teens?
Teenagers use social media accounts as a basis for reality. Furthermore, they face pressure to live perfect, stress-free lives because when they look on social media, they see only the “perfect” parts of people’s lives. Social media has the ability to make teens get confused between a person’s curated social media self and reality.
Consequently, this disparity between a social media life and reality causes issues with comparison. It makes teens compare their lives to the guise of perfection–which can only lead to unhappiness.
Other factors that lead to depression through teen social media use include:
- Pressure to fit in
- Decreased social skills
Not only that but “women had 50 percent higher odds of having depressive symptoms.” And “Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat all had negative effects on mental health.”
Signs of Depression
Oftentimes, it can be hard for parents to distinguish between a teen’s moody behavior and depression. Signs of depression include:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
- Irritable mood
- Weight loss/gain
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Excessive guilt
- Difficulty concentrating/ making decisions
- Physical ailments
- Social isolation
- Suicidal thoughts/actions
Parents Can Get Involved in Teen Social Media Use
If your teen is struggling with depression due to social media use, there are ways to help. First, start by limiting the amount of time the entire family spends on their phones. “Try to keep your use at two hours a day or less. Spend the rest of your time on things that are better for mental health and happiness.”
Next, create activities outside of the house that the whole family will enjoy. Also, talking often and having honest conversations “is key when it comes to parenting teens in a modern world.”
Finally, parents commonly feel alone and defeated in these situations–remember that you’re not alone. Many parents experience this exact situation every day, it is far from rare. Options exist, you just have to reach out and find them.
To learn more about treatment options, click here.