How Social Media Affects Youth Mental Health: A Double-Edged Sword

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate, but it also poses significant challenges for the mental health of young people. According to a recent survey, Up to 95% of young people aged 13-17 report using a social media platform. Nearly two thirds of teenagers report using social media every day and one third report using social media “almost constantly. ”However, this excessive use can have detrimental effects on their well-being. The types of use and content children and adolescents are exposed to pose mental health concerns. Children and adolescents who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media face double the risk of mental health problems including experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is concerning as a recent survey showed that teenagers spend an average of 3.5 hours a day on social media.


Another concern is that social media can influence the way young people perceive themselves and their bodies. “When asked about the impact of social media on their body image,46% of adolescents aged 13-17 said social media makes them feel worse.” A recent review found that, as with mass media, the use of social media is a risk factor for the development of an eating disorder, body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating. In this review, social media use was shown to contribute to negative self-esteem, social comparisons, decreased emotional regulation and idealized self-presentation that negatively influenced body image.


Despite the growing evidence of the negative impacts of social media on youth mental health, there is still a lack of independent and comprehensive safety analyses on the issue. This leaves us with gaps in our understanding of the full extent and implications of the problem. Therefore, it is crucial to find a balance between the benefits and harms of social media, especially for young people who are in a critical developmental stage. Social media can be a source of entertainment, information, and socialization, but it can also be a source of stress, pressure, and isolation. By being aware of the potential risks and taking preventive measures, young people can enjoy social media without compromising their mental health.




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