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As a generation that grew up with smartphones, it’s no surprise that social media has become an integral part of teenagers’ daily lives. From scrolling through Instagram to recording videos on TikTok, social media gives teens a platform to connect with their peers, express themselves, and showcase their lives to the world.
However, recent studies have shown that excessive use of social media can have serious consequences for young people’s mental health. Learn about the positive and negative impact social media can have on adolescent mental health as they grow up in school, in relationships, and online.
The positive effects of technology on mental health
Thanks to the convenience of distance therapy, more and more youth are receiving mental health support without worrying about transportation or time off from school or work. There are several therapy and counseling apps that teens can use including better helpthat connects people with licensed therapists. Another example is therapistan app that provides a place to share mental health issues with peers.
Then there are apps that help teens manage stress and anxiety, such as: Rootd And Sanvello. You can also find apps that offer libraries of guided meditations and sleep stories to help you fall asleep faster. Apps like these are great for teaching techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and guided imagery to help users relax and reduce stress.
Meanwhile, technology is a great tool for physical fitness, which can have a direct impact on mental health. Apps like MyFitnessPal make it easier to track the diet while the Nike training club App helps people track their workouts and stay motivated to reach their fitness goals.
Social media even offers its own benefits when used mindfully. First, it allows youth to connect with friends and others who share similar interests and experiences, creating a sense of community and belonging. It can also provide a platform for teenagers to unleash their creativity and enjoy personal expression.
The negative impact of social media on mental health
Unfortunately, social media can have a negative impact on young people if not used in moderation. The Journal of the Canadian Medical Association published research indicating the negative impact of social media on adolescent mental health. For example, the researchers cite sleep deprivation from heavy smartphone use and media multitasking as a cause of poor academic performance and other negative mental health effects, particularly among girls.
Research published by the International Journal of Youth and Youth points to a connection between the use of social media and depression, anxiety and psychological stress. It’s not hard to imagine how constantly scrolling through newsfeeds of carefully curated life highlights from their peers can cause teenagers to lose sight of their own lives and experiences.
Cyberbullying is another major risk of using social media. Research published by the Youth Health Journal found that increased access to social media and its ubiquitous use has created new opportunities for online aggression. For example, teens who try to express themselves can become the target of negative comments and criticism, which can be emotionally damaging and lead to anxiety, depression, and other negative feelings.
That’s not to say that every teen who uses social media is a victim of cyberbullying. But increasing time spent on such platforms can increase the likelihood of encountering online harassment.
Other negative effects of excessive social media use can include the pressure to be perfect. As people share their happiest moments, social media tends to present a distorted view of reality where everyone seems to have the perfect life, looks, and relationships. For some youth, this can lead to unrealistic expectations and constant pressure to strive for perfection. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and, according to the magazine Psychology of popular mediaeven body dysmorphic disorder.
Social media can have both positive and negative effects on adolescent mental health, especially when not used in moderation. By understanding the potential pitfalls, teens can take steps to protect their mental well-being and use social media in a healthy and responsible manner.
Tips for managing technology usage
While social media can have a negative impact on mental health, teens can use it in a healthy and balanced way. Here are a few tips to keep this balance:
- Set self-imposed limits. To avoid getting caught up in the endless scroll, they can set self-imposed limits on their social media use. For example, you could limit their usage to 30 minutes per day or check their feeds only at certain times of the day.
- Practice self-care. Teens should prioritize self-care and engage in activities that promote their mental health and well-being. These can include exercise, mindfulness, and spending time in nature.
- Follow positive influences. Teens should follow accounts and connect with people who make their lives positive and inspiring. You should also unfollow or mute accounts that encourage negativity or unrealistic expectations.
- Practice mindful communication. Young people should be careful about the language they use and the information they share on social media. You should also think twice before posting or commenting on anything that might hurt others.
Use social media responsibly
Social media can have both positive and negative effects on adolescent mental health. While it can be a great tool for connecting with friends, accessing information, and improving well-being, it can also lead to addiction, cyberbullying, and unrealistic expectations.
To maintain a healthy balance, teens need to set their own boundaries, take breaks, practice self-care, surround themselves with positive influences, and watch their online behavior. By using social media responsibly and mindfully, teens can reap the benefits without sacrificing their mental health.
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