“I’ve seen lots of news stories linking adolescent social media use to bad mental health outcomes. What’s the connection between these things?”
In the last decade, teens have experienced soaring rates of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and suicide. Researchers believe there’s a correlation between these issues and social media. Here’s why.
This acronym stands for Fear of Missing Out. Kids today feel pressure to be constantly connected, lest they miss something important in their peer group.
Comparison is an inescapable part of growing up. But social media creates distortions in how adolescents view themselves if they feel they don’t measure up to their peers.
Teens using smartphones at night may feel compelled to respond to every notification, resulting in health-damaging sleep deprivation.
Today’s bullying often happens online via social media, exposing victims to public shaming and humiliation on a broader, more public scale.
Screen interaction releases a pleasurable neurotransmitter called dopamine. Also, the more we get, the more our brains crave it. Dopamine dependency means our brains may struggle to function healthily without constant digital stimulation.
For many kids, especially after COVID lockdowns, face-to-face time with friends has largely been replaced by online connectivity, making friendship more challenging to cultivate.
Social media usage often goes hand in hand with being sedentary instead of being physically active.
Next Steps for Social Media Use and Mental Health Struggles
Taken together, these unintended consequences of social media and smartphone availability are clearly taking a toll on adolescents’ mental health. However, as a parent, you have the unique opportunity to establish healthy boundaries for your kids and teens to help them overcome common mental health struggles because of social media use. We encourage you to take advantage of these moments to have a positive impact in your child’s life so they can continue to develop healthy habits.