Most modern teenagers use social media and would probably spend all day on their phones if you let them. While social media can be a positive tool for networking, keeping in touch and sharing moments, it can also be detrimental to a teenager’s mental state.
Here are five ways your teenager can be mentally and emotionally affected by social media:
Hinders Real Social Skills
Modern teens are doing most of their communication with a screen, not with a real person. Even though cell phones were originally designed to make calls, most teenagers hardly ever use that function and prefer to text or instant message. Vocal tone, body language and gestures are completely eliminated from digital communication, so teens are becoming disconnected from real-time conversation. In addition, digital communication makes it easy to be cowardly in a relationship. Instead of talking about an issue in person, teenagers can just send a text or block a phone number to avoid confrontation.
Creates a Risk of Cyberbullying and Online Imposters
From the safety of the screen, it’s become easier than ever for teens to be cruel to one another. Digital communication allows people to say insulting things they would never dream of saying to someone in person, with little to no repercussions. There’s also a chance for any teen to come in contact with someone who isn’t who they say they are, as social media makes it easy to lie and hide behind fake profiles. Encounters with online imposters can be dangerous and lead to identity theft, stalking and other risks.
Platforms like Instagram are photo-based, which creates the opportunity for a teen’s peers to literally judge and rate their appearance on a daily basis. Since teenagers care so much about their image, being bullied for how they look can be detrimental.
Gives Teens the “Fear of Missing Out”
Social media puts pressure on everyone, especially teens, to be always be doing what someone else is doing because they are frightened to miss out on something great. Excessive social media use can make a teenager wonder why everyone is having fun without them, or why they aren’t as impressive or ambitious as someone else.
Sets Unrealistic Expectations
Social media makes it seem like everyone leads a fun, interesting and beautiful life, when really it’s just a highlights reel. The photos on Instagram or Facebook are idealized versions of life. No one is going to post photos of the mundane or write about a bad day. This ideal social media world makes teenagers think that their lives aren’t exciting or that they aren’t attractive or smart enough. Such comparisons can lead to feelings of severe inadequacy.