Mental health problems are common among young people. In any given year, around one in five teenagers experiences a diagnosable mental health problem. While the pressures of school, friends and family may make teen life stressful, it’s important to remember that these are normal struggles of growing up. These pressures do not cause mental illness, but they can make it more likely that someone will experience problems. Virtually all young people use social media — and this has implications for their mental health. Both positive and negative effects have been linked with various platforms and apps. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how social media might be impacting young people’s mental wellbeing, including risky behavior as well as online support groups.
There are many social media apps that teens use, but a few stand out as particularly popular. Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat have been identified as the most used apps by young people aged 18–24. Instagram and Facebook are both predominantly photo and video-sharing platforms. Instagram has been identified as having a greater impact on self-esteem and mental health. Facebook may be more likely to be linked with increased feelings of jealousy and envy. Snapchat is a photo and short video-sharing platform that allows users to set a time limit on how long others can view their content. This may reduce the potential for negative feelings associated with other platforms like Instagram, where content stays online indefinitely.
Social media has been described as “the most significant change in communication and self-expression in a generation”. While it may be convenient for communicating, it has also been associated with a range of mental health concerns. These may be particularly problematic for young people, who are still developing good mental health, coping skills and resilience. A large survey of young people in the UK found that over a quarter reported feeling more anxious after using social media. Worryingly, this survey also found that one in ten felt more depressed after visiting social media sites.
Social media may negatively impact young people’s mental health in a number of ways. These include: – Time and energy – Social media takes time to use — and this can reduce the time available for other things, such as spending time with friends and family, or studying. – Self-esteem – Self-esteem is a measure of how we feel about ourselves. We can feel good about ourselves when we do things well, but bad about ourselves when we make mistakes. – Self-esteem can be influenced by how we compare ourselves to others — and social media provides a platform where this can happen. On social media, we can see people leading glamorous and exciting lives. This may make us feel inadequate and unhappy with our own lives. – Self-esteem is also linked with the way we think about ourselves — and social media can encourage negative and unrealistic thoughts. – Cyberbullying – Cyberbullying happens when someone is abused online. – Self-harm – Self-harm is when people deliberately hurt themselves.
Not all aspects of social media have negative effects on young people’s mental health. To some degree, the impact of social media will depend on how it is used. – Self-expression – Social media sites allow people to express themselves in a variety of ways — as well as connecting with like-minded people. – Support and advice – Social media can provide support and advice for young people experiencing mental health problems. – Coping skills – Social media can help young people to develop coping skills that can help them to deal with difficulties in their lives. – Real-world interactions – Social media can provide a safe and easy way for young people to interact with others, building their confidence and social skills. – Real-world support – Social media can also provide access to real-world communities and support networks.
Online support groups are a growing phenomenon. They are a way of people with a shared experience to connect online, often using social media. Often, these groups are led by a person who has personal experience of the condition or situation. These groups can provide a safe and supportive space where young people can talk about their feelings and experiences. Social media has both positive and negative effects on young people’s mental health. The most significant impact of social media on young people’s mental health appears to be the amount of time they spend on it. In general, more time online is associated with poorer mental health.
When used appropriately, social media can be a positive source of support, information and connection. At the same time, it’s important to recognise that social media isn’t a substitute for engaging with real-world communities and support groups. In fact, research suggests that using social media as part of a wider support network may help to protect mental health. In other words, it may be the combination of these two factors — not social media in isolation — that has the biggest impact on young people’s mental health. To conclude, the use of social media is widespread among youth, which has implications for their mental health. Both positive and negative effects have been linked with various platforms and apps. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how social media might be impacting young people’s mental wellbeing, including risky behavior as well as online support groups.