Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the number of teenagers dealing with depression has jumped tremendously. According to a national poll: practically 50 percent of parents noticed a new or worsening mental health condition in their teen, and 10 percent expressed that they felt social media played a part. These cases demonstrate a link between social media use and depression through various studies.
A case study by The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concludes teenagers’ use of social media platforms has sky-rocketed over the last six years. Teenagers use sites like Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok to express themselves and socialize. Many teens even use social media to help with homework and problem-solving. Though social media platforms are used for positive interactions and creation, users should also be aware of the dark sides.
A report by Common Sense Media finds that:
•1 in 4 teens is a heavy social media user, using at least two different types of social media each day.
•51% of teens visit social networking sites daily
•More than a third of teens visit their leading social networking site several times a day
If not managed properly, social media can have adverse effects, resulting in teenagers becoming distracted in their everyday lives. As well as getting exposed to bullying, possibly developing unrealistic views of other people’s lives, and negative peer pressure. The prominence of social media also opens the door to social comparison: teenagers see peers post about seemingly exciting events, relationships, and accomplishments that they may not be experiencing. In turn, such comparisons could lead to low self-evaluation and self-esteem.
Teens are often anxious about fitting in, worried about what people think, and may attach their self-worth to the number of followers, likes, friends, and views they accrue on social media sites. This comparative mindset can put them at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, isolation, and suicidal thoughts.
Tips on How to Help
Creating Healthy Boundaries of Social Media Use
A research study by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry shows that teenagers who spend more time on social media daily are more likely to become depressed. Parents can set healthy boundaries by allowing their teen(s) to be on social media for a certain amount of time each day. Most sites allow a parent or guardian to set the amount of time spent on social media each day. Parents or guardians can use a parental control application to monitor and set boundaries on social media app usage.
Have Open Discussions
Parents can express their expectations of using social media platforms. Try being open to discussing any topic without the threat of lectures. Allow children to see the openness and willingness to talk without judgment if they have questions, concerns, or want to vent. Honesty about the good side of social media and the opposing sides can be a great start. Be patient; young people desire and deserve empathy and understanding.
Promote Other Activities
To decrease a teen’s social media activity, parents can provide alternatives. Promoting more family activities around the house, like games, movie nights, or watching television together, can be good options. Also, parents can encourage their teens to participate in school sports or other activities like clubs.
Breaking teenagers from unhealthy habits of using social media may take time, but it can be achieved if parents or guardians can get resources and remain patient. Setting healthy social media boundaries can improve moods and self-esteem, which can help teens achieve a healthy balance in their social media activity.