Does social media have Psychological Effects in Teens? How to deal with it?

Does social media have Psychological Effects in Teens? How to deal with it?

social media and effect on teens

Many teen girls go for their phones first thing in the morning. They would look through Instagram posts from their friends, share videos from their favourite TikTok creators, or reply to late-night messages from a group chat with their best friends on their way to school. These may appear to be insignificant interactions—although adults are guilty of their own digital obsessions—but social media platforms have a substantial impact on the mental and emotional health of many young females. Researchers who looked at data from over 10,000 teenagers discovered that regular social media use has a disproportionately detrimental impact on teen females' mental health compared to teen boys'. Despite the risks, many teen girls continue to use these digital networks out of a fear of being left out (Natasha Varela).

Teen Social Media Use

Screen time is a more prevalent way for individuals of all ages to live each day. The screen use by the teenagers and tweens of 8 to 18 years of age (not even for school or homework) was determined by a 2019 report from the Common Sense Media:

  • Tweens (ages 8-12) spend 4 hours a day on average on their screens.

  • Teens (ages 13-18) spend 7 hours a day on average on their screens.

According to research, both age groups spend the bulk of their screen time watching TV and playing games, followed by social media and other websites. A lot of that usage occurs at night, which prevents children from getting adequate sleep, which can be detrimental to their development. Many teens use this platform to express themselves in the manner they want to be seen, but girls are under pressure to be conscious about how others will perceive them. According to a 2018 Pew Research survey, girls and boys use social media in notably different ways, with females being more likely than boys to write about their own opinions, feelings, and issues.

The Psychological Effects of Social Media Use


Researchers discovered two forms of reciprocal, depressive cycles connected to utilising the social media platform Instagram in a 2017 study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. The use of Instagram was linked to a rise in depressed mood among teenagers. Similarly, an increase in Instagram posting was linked to a teen's initial depressed mood. This creates a vicious loop in which the more you browse, the more depressed you get, and the more depressed you become, the more you post.

Negative Body Image

Negative self-comparison predicted an immediate influence on emotions after browsing others' social networks, according to a 2017 research of teenagers' responses to social media browsing. The respondents' knowledge of social media's controlled nature and unrealistic highlight reels, according to the researchers, might be an useful protective element for teenagers in knowing the difference between reality and expectations. Girls are more susceptible to external pressure. The pressure on them to appear a specific way is unbalanced.


Bullying has always been a cause of mental distress for teenagers. Researchers discovered that cyberbullying and lack of sleep accounted for 60% of the link between social media and psychological discomfort in a 2019 article from The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health on correlations between social media usage and mental health and well-being. Girls' usage of social media was inversely linked to their wellbeing.

The Psychological Effects of Social Media Impacts Girls

Researchers from University College London monitored 13,000 teenagers on social media for three years, beginning when they were 13 years old. The teenagers also self-reported their mood and well-being as a result of their social media experiences. The study authors found that three major elements influence the social media effect on females:

  • Inadequate sleep - Girls stayed up late to keep scrolling through their social media accounts, a behaviour known as vamping.

  • Cyberbullying - Having damaging, inaccurate, or private material about them shared on social media.

  • Lack of physical activity - Girls sat for greater amounts of time and had less time to exercise because they were scrolling through social media on their phones or other gadgets. As a result, they were missing out on the mental health benefits of exercise.

According to a study, 27% of teenagers who use social media often experience severe psychological stress. Only 17 percent of teenagers who used social media less frequently reported significant psychological stress. Beginning around 2010, smartphone use rose significantly, and surveys of teenagers reveal that teen depression symptoms and suicide rates increased as well, particularly among females. Researchers believe that the effects of social media in particular, as well as technology use in general, may be contributing to the growing incidence of teen depression and anxiety.

A 2018 study compared the mental health of 14- to 17-year-olds who spent seven hours per day on social media to those who spent only approximately an hour per day on it. More than twice as many regular users had been diagnosed with depression, treated by a mental health professional, or used medication for a psychiatric or behavioural condition. According to a CNN study of 13-year-olds' usage of social media, those who visited Facebook or other networking sites 50 to 100 times each day were 37 percent more stressed than those who just checked a few times per day.

Teenagers spend a lot of time on social media, scrolling through posts of their friends and celebrities that have been altered and filtered. They frequently feel inferior when they compare themselves to these "ideal" photos, leading to poor self-esteem and a negative body image. As a result, online social comparison is linked to depressed symptoms in teens, especially teenage girls. Furthermore, Facebook usage has been related to an increased risk of eating disorders.

  • 35% of teens are concerned about getting tagged in ugly photographs.

  • 27% of teens are concerned about how they appear in photos they share on social media.

  • 22% feel awful about themselves, when no one comments or “likes” their photographs.

The influence of sleep deprivation is one of the psychological impacts of social media. This is due to the fact that teenagers stay up late on social media. Furthermore, the technology keeps teenagers awake. Smartphones emit artificial blue light, which activates arousing neurons in the brain, disrupting the body's capacity to generate melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

Teens' physical and psychological stress levels rise as a result of their sleep deprivation. In fact, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of teen depression, drug addiction, and risky behaviour, as well as a decrease in emotional control abilities.

The authors concluded that the majority of the influence of social media on mental health is related to what it takes us away from: for example, it pulls teens away from sleep and exercise, both of which are critical for mental health. The findings suggest that while social media does not cause harm in and of itself, frequent use may interfere with activities that are beneficial to mental health, such as sleeping and exercising, as well as increasing young people's exposure to harmful content, particularly the negative experience of cyber-bullying. It also keeps teenagers from making face-to-face contact, which is essential for mental health and wellbeing. Social media's psychological impacts damage adolescent well-being on numerous levels. There are probably a number of things that are better than being on social media. It's probably a good idea to get back to those activities—and to use social media wisely. Teenagers are happier and more equipped for success in real life when they learn to feel good about what they can achieve rather than how they appear or what they own.








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