Social Consequences of the Internet for Adolescents
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Social Consequences of the Internet for Adolescents
The Effects of Social Media on the Mental Health of Children and Teenagers
There has been a significant increase in depression and anxiety in children and teens over the past few years. Smartphones and social media have been pointed out as a great cause of depression and anxiety. A lot of parents and guardians concur and have reported seeing their children becoming more aggressive if they fail to use their smartphones. It appears that social media and smartphones contribute greatly to depression and anxiety. Recent researches show that children and teenagers who spend prolonged time Instagram, Facebook, and other online platforms report anxiety and depression at higher rates when compared to those who spent a little time on them (Strasburger et al. 758). The most significant difference between today’s children and teenagers and the earlier generation teenagers is that they spend a lot of time on social media trying to connect with their friends and less time interacting with their friends in person. Other teens don’t succeed in connecting with their friends offline due to various reasons. Some of them feel unaccepted in their local communities or schools, and some are isolated geographically. For these teenagers, the electronic connection can be lifesaving. It is evident that increased depression arises from how social media users form connections electronically (Valkenburg and Peter 4). Children and teenagers are continuously getting tech-savvy today. The impact of long-term use of social media on the mental health of children and adolescents should be taken seriously. Even though using social media has a number of benefits, such as easier to communicate with others and develop better social skills, it also has some adverse effects, especially on the mental health of these children. Therefore, young people should be educated on how to protect themselves from such potential hazards.
A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed the influence of social media use on teenagers and children. The study found out that ‘Facebook depression’ is among the risk factors that young adults might come across with excessive use of social media. It is a disorder associated with spending excessive time in the online world and then feeling unaccepted among peers online. Facebook depression can lead to withdrawal and anxiety, along with the urge to engage in dangerous activities such as drug abuse, unwanted sex, or self-destructive behaviors just as depression in the offline world. This study found out that the relationship that teenagers have on social media networking websites has increased by 22%. Many teens access their favorite social sites several times a day. The study states that the use of the internet and smartphones is responsible for causing social and emotions developments in no small part of this generation. Together with Facebook depression, excessive use of social media includes sexting, cyberbullying, and access to inappropriate content. Parents and guardians can do several things to curb these risks. They should restrict access to Facebook to children under the age of 13. If the children have reached the age of starting to engage more independently online, then parents should continuously communicate with them to get to know their online activity habits. They should also set an excellent example of how to use social media. Also, coming up with a ground-rule is a unique way to make the internet safe.
Loss of self-esteem can result in increased depression. Girls are more likely to be affected at this instance when they begin to compare themselves negatively with the carefully-selected pictures of their colleagues who tend to look beautiful, slimmer, famous, and richer. Many of them get bothered with their age mates who continuously post the prettiest pictures of themselves, or they follow influencers and celebrities who Photoshop their images and apply makeups and hair teams (Strasburger et al. 764). If they get to term this as usual, then this might impact negatively on their self-confidence, and they may end up being depressed. Children and teenagers spend a lot of time online sharing what they think everyone will see as a luxurious life, and without that, they tend to worry that they won’t be accepted by their friends. They fear rejection. And if they receive encouraging feedback from their online accounts, they might get concerned that their colleagues like is nothing but a fallacy. Surveys show that image-driven Instagram is a platform that causes many cases of reported depression, anxiety, and concerns about body image. Presentation of pretty images doesn’t only make some teenagers think that they are imperfect, but it is unhealthy even for the ones doing it.
If people spend a lot of time in the online world, it means that they will have less time to perform other activities that can enhance their self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and connectivity. Spending too much time on social media makes children and teenagers skip important activities such as physical activities and other activities that bring a sense of accomplishment; for example, developing talents and learning new skills (Mitra and Padman 58). Prolonged use of social networks leads to its addiction which in turn leads to withdrawal from these special activities. Recent researches reveal that teenagers spend a lot of time posting updates, chatting with friends, and scanning news feeds. This leads to social media addiction as they use these platforms for longer periods. Children and young adults who spend much time on their smartphones and computers do not get much in return to make them appreciate themselves. Getting a lot of likes or follow requests might be impressive, but they are more addictive than satisfying.
For most children and teenagers, depression and stress and common comorbid conditions of insomnia. Anxiety and depression not only lead to insomnia, but the conditions worsen with lack of sleep, creating a situation where social media anxiety-inducing effects feel more acutely- similar to the intensity of sleep problems. According to specific research, about sixty percent of teenagers search for their smartphones an hour before they go to sleep. This makes them lose one hour of sleep than their friends who avoid using their smartphones before they go to sleep. The blue light from mobile phones and computers interferes with sleep. Other than that, spending time in the online world is not necessarily a sleep-inducing activity. It can actually cause stress, which in turn leads to depression and anxiety. Many people intend to spend maybe, 10 minutes on Facebook, but they end up spending even an hour unknowingly. This is one hour behind the sleep, and they will also be more exhausted the following day, finding it hard to focus.
It is wise for parents and guardians to monitor the use of social media by their children to ensure that they positively benefit from it. If they think it is not, then they should guide them towards ways to change it. They should also be aware of depression symptoms. If they notice any signs that their kid might be under stress, they should take them seriously. Parents need to hold a discussion with their children to know how they are doing. They should not hesitate to book a discussion with a mental health provider.
To make sure a healthy social media use, parents need to teach their children how to use social media positively. They should encourage them to be honest with themselves about how they feel with the time they spend online and stop them from engaging in interactions that might increase their stress. Parents should also check on girls who are at a depression risk regularly. Checking on girls who might be undergoing a rough time or those who might be under unusual stress can help minimize depression. Social media’s adverse effects can influence when self-confidence is down (Strasburger, et al. 760). Many applications have a lot of notifications that the developers used to lure or disrupt users from what they are doing to engage with their smartphones. It is, therefore, the duty of a parent to turn off these notifications that always lure the attention of their children.
Parents also need to pay attention to balance. They need to ensure that their children are participating in offline social interactions and that they have time to perform various activities that can assist in building their self-confidence. Practicing phone-free time before bed is a critical thing. Every parent needs to come up with this policy and enforce it. They should restrict the use of phones in the bedroom after a specified time. Buying an analog watch to be used as an alarm to wake up in the morning can also help in this instance. Parents need to lead by example. Setting an example by not spending much time on social media and having a good time with your children, including smartphone free mealtime and other activities, can greatly impact their lives positively. Some children might resist, but they get to know its benefits over time.
While smartphones and social media cause anxiety and depression, it’s not all bad! Many people like keeping in touch with family and friends. Furthermore, social media is becoming a necessity because it helps people to stay connected in the modern world. However, it’s essential to be aware of social media usage by teenagers and children and the feelings it may be causing them. If you notice that they are constantly checking on social media or they are anxious or stressed after viewing some social media content, then it is good to talk to them and ask them to take a break from using their smartphones or laptop. It is also important to regularly check on what they are sharing or viewing on social media as some content is harmful to them or others (Mitra and Padman 60). Generally, remember that it’s quite important to do what is best for a child’s mental and wellbeing. Therefore, following these useful steps for regulating social media use can help reduce anxiety and depression in both adults and teenagers.
Mitra, Sinjini, and Rema Padman. “Exploring Social Media for Health and Wellness.” Journal of Cases on Information Technology, vol. 14, no. 2, 2012, pp. 42-64. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2448272
Oberst, Ursula, et al. “Negative consequences from heavy social networking in adolescents: The mediating role of fear of missing out.” Journal of Adolescence, vol. 55, 2017, pp. 51-60. http://recerca.blanquerna.edu/conductes-desadaptatives/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1-s2.0-S0140197116301774-main.pdf
Strasburger, V. C., et al. “Health Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents.” PEDIATRICS, vol. 125, no. 4, 2010, pp. 756-767. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/41656411_Health_Effects_of_Media_on_Children_and_Adolescents
Valkenburg, Patti M., and Jochen Peter. “Social Consequences of the Internet for Adolescents.” Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 18, no. 1, 2009, pp. 1-5. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01595.x