The Negative Effects on Teens From Heavy Social Media Use
There’s more than just a link between excessive social media use and higher rates of teen depression; there are other effects to be aware of:
This is especially true with teen girls because they are comparing themselves with a flock of celebrities, photoshopped to appear thinner, prettier, and rich. Teenagers mistakenly view these as their model of what is deemed normal, which can be destructive to their self-worth, say experts. Studies have shown that girls will also spend a lot of time trying to construct the perfect post of themselves, worrying they won’t be accepted by their friends.
Research has revealed a correlation between the heavy use of social media and “perceived social isolation.” Teenagers may induce anxiety from worrying about why they’re not invited to a party they see on Facebook or Instagram. It’s what our culture has called “fear of missing out” or FOMO. Teens use social media believing it’s what connects them to others, when in fact it takes them out of the present moment and their life. This, in turn, makes them feel more isolated.
It is common for teenagers to do tasks that require concentration, such as schoolwork, while simultaneously interacting on social media with friends. Many are even proud of being able to multitask. However, this constant disruption is actually making attention issues worse and reducing learning and performance.
When teenagers are spending an excessive part of their free time on social media, it means they are spending less time on activities that would increase new mental skills, on hobbies and especially physical movement. When we exercise our body releases endorphins that interact with receptors in our brain to trigger a positive feeling and help reduce depression. Because they are more sedentary, teens are not receiving these feel-good endorphins and are also not getting the benefits of improved self-esteem.
Studies suggest more than half of adolescents are looking at social media on their phones prior to going to bed. And they’re also getting “on average an hour less sleep than their peers who don’t use their phones before bed.” It’s not only the blue light from electronic screens that’s disrupting falling asleep; it’s also the stress and anxiety of the content on social media. Teens are worrying that they’re falling behind in keeping up on what their friends are posting.