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Social Media and Teen Mental Health


How are teenagers affected by social media, and how can we help them?

 

First, watch these two videos. One is a short film entitled A Social Life on the addictiveness of social media, and how it can overtake your life. The other is an ABC News clip featuring five girls discussing social media and its effect on their body image.

 

Snapchat. Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. All of these are platforms of social media, and are some of the reasons that teens in the modern age are more susceptible to mental illnesses.

Teens are 14% more likely to become depressed if they use social media everyday and are 2.2x more likely to have an eating disorder

48% of teens who spend five hours per day on an electronic device have at least one suicide risk factor

Teenagers: YOU ARE NOT ALONE

 

To gather important information for my project, I sent a survey out to all of the high school age students at my school. The survey included questions such as the student’s grade and gender, and asked them if they personally had felt as though their mental health had been affected by social media. Here are some of the results that I had:

 

I also asked each student to explain what they meant by their answer to the last question. Here are some of their answers:

 

“I think that lots of things on social media can make people feel self-conscious. It is difficult for me to ignore these sorts of things despite the fact that I do not have social media.”

“Whenever I see something that I wasn’t invited to on social media it makes me feel worse about myself.”

“I think social media subconsciously affects who I am as a person.”

“Social media portrays perfectionism that can’t be reached.”

“Some people like social media influencers only show the good parts of their lives on their platform and sometimes that makes it seem like their life is a lot better than mine and that is upsetting sometimes” 

“More often than not, I get caught up in social media instead of seeing my friends in person which definitely makes my mental state worse.”

“Knowing I’ve been left out has increased my social anxiety.”

“The whole mentality social media creates is addictive and toxic. It makes it very easy to obsess about yourself and your outward appearance, it makes you deeply insecure about yourself.”

“I do think that social media in general (I might include virtual communication, i.e. texting) effectively serves to amplify and aggravate any already unstable or paranoid thought processes.”

“I would be so distracted by my phone, I would miss everything happening around me. I would get obsessed about looking like other people or living like what their Instagram looked like, it lowered my self confidence a lot.”
“Instagram is flooded with unrealistic expectations which can have an impact on personal confidence.”

“I feel that there are so many unrealistic expectations, especially for women, that are greatly portrayed on platforms such as Instagram. This has often made me feel worse about myself or make me want to change to be a certain way.”

“I think that its hard to see other people spending time together without me because I feel like my friends don’t like me or don’t want to be friends etc. A lot of times seeing videos or photos just makes me feel even worse about myself, especially in terms of body positivity. Its hard to always see photos of girls who seem to have perfect bodies, or skin, or hair etc, because it just makes me subconscious and makes me feel like I’m not deserving of compliments etc.”

 

After reading these quotes from teenagers in school now, struggling with this, think about this question:

HAS SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTED YOU?

How can we change this?

  • Take time off of your cellphone every day
  • Spend time with friends and family without the influence of social media. Do this IN PERSON.
  • Spend time outside, instead of inside on electronics
  • Talk with your parents. It might not seem as though they know much, but they’ve had some of the same feelings that you do.

 

A message to parents: TALK WITH YOUR KIDS! 

 

**If you feel you are in danger of hurting yourself, or know someone who might be, call the suicide helpline number immediately.  1-800-273-8255

 

For additional information, here is an infographic created by me about social media and its effect on suicide rates in teenagers:

Social media and suicide.jpg

 

For further reading:

Fitzgerald, Britney. “Social Media Is Making Us Anxious, Study Finds.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 12 July 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/social-media-anxiety_n_1662224.html.

“How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers.” Child Mind Institute, 13 Apr. 2018, https://childmind.org/article/how-using-social-media-affects-teenagers/

“Social Media And Teen Anxiety.” Harvard Graduate School of Education, 13 Apr. 2018, https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/17/12/social-media-and-teen-anxiety

“Social Media And Teens: How Does Social Media Affect Mental Health?.” PsyCom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986, 13 Apr. 2018, https://www.psycom.net/social-media-teen-mental-health

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COMMENTS: 15
  1. April 26, 2018 by Soren

    Especially during this era, this issue is more important than ever before. It makes sense that social media acts as a stem of stress and worry in our lives because social media is essentially used by everyone for interacting with friends and family. Should we help kids manage their treatment or should we simply force a limit on technology?

    • April 29, 2018 by Jane MacRae

      Hi Soren!! I totally agree that this issue is super important, especially now. I think that both managing your personal social media usage and in doing so possibly limiting the influence of technology on your mental state is one of the key ways to reduce it’s impact.

  2. April 26, 2018 by Caroline.Rollins

    This is such an important topic for our generation! I like how you included quotes from the people you surveyed, it brought a lot of depth to your statistics.

    • April 29, 2018 by Jane MacRae

      HI Caroline!! Thanks 🙂 And I agree, I think it’s important too!

  3. April 27, 2018 by lkruse18

    Hi Jane! This is a really interesting subject; I loved the two opening videos because it is so incredibly relatable and accurately describes what it is like as a girl this day in age! Your statistics and graphs made me step back and reflect on my own involvement with social media which I think is very powerful. The quotes also were very comforting to read and made me feel less alone when I have the same thoughts. Overall, great job and continue to be an advocate for mental health! – Lizzie

    • April 29, 2018 by Jane MacRae

      Hi Lizzie! I thought that including those videos would create a personal impact on the reader. I’m glad the project affected you and made you reflect! That was what I was hoping!!

  4. April 27, 2018 by Morinsola.Tinubu

    I loved this presentation, Jane! I think that your topic is very important and I personally find myself battling with technology and social media. Similarly to what Lizzy said, I like that you gave viewers the option to watch one of two videos (they were both very compelling). I applaud you for your thoroughness of thought and am interested to see what other people think about your topic. Great job!

    • April 29, 2018 by Jane MacRae

      Hi! I’m glad you liked the project! I really hoped the videos would help to connect with those who were watching them, so I’m glad you liked that I added them! Thanks for reading the presentation!!

  5. April 28, 2018 by Miza A. Ridzuan

    Social media has become such a big part of our lives, and often times, it can be quite dangerous. My parents always tell me to have everything in moderation, but since everyone is constantly on social media, i also find myself excessively on it, too. Your project has taught me more about the effects of my unhealthy habit, and I thank you so much for that! I love the videos you added and the quotes from the survey because it shows that none of us are going through this alone. This is a very well done project! Thank you again!

    • April 29, 2018 by Jane MacRae

      Hi Miza! I agree with your statement about social media becoming such a big part of our lives. I’ve definitely felt the impact of it on my own mental health. My parents are like that as well–my mom HATES that I use snapchat. I’m glad my project helped you understand the effects! It taught me a lot of information as well! Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. April 29, 2018 by Alexandra.Weinsten

    Hi Jane! Your project is very well laid out and so vital to this generation. As someone who has been negatively impacted by social media, I definitely agree with all your points! In particular, I like how you included results from your survey and also included the quotes. You have definitely inspired me to use social media less and talk to my friends about this issue, too! I hope that going forward, social media can start to be used for more positive things rather than just for social purposes. Great work!

    • April 29, 2018 by Jane MacRae

      Hi Alexandra!! I agree that it’s really important for this generation to learn about. I’m glad I’ve inspired you! I also think that social media should be used for more positive things–spread the word!!

  7. April 29, 2018 by Zain.Palanpur

    Wow, this was a really well-done project. I absolutely love the way you presented your information. Your use of graphs, pictures, and videos provided so much information without having to read through chunks of text. I think the way you did this makes your project easy to understand, pleasing to the eye, and really effective overall. I really liked the section where you asked students about their response to the graph, it helped give character to your data and make it much more real. I also liked the end, where you gave suggestions to your readers on how they can help themselves or others with this problem. I really enjoyed going through your project, excellent job!

    • April 29, 2018 by Jane MacRae

      Hi Zain! I’m glad you liked my project! I’m glad you liked the way that I presented the information–I was trying to make it really visual, because that’s how I know I learn best. I’m really glad you took the time to look through everything I put in it! Thanks for reading !!

  8. April 30, 2018 by Agnes.von Reis

    Hi! I loved your project. It’s such a current issue that we need to continue to address. The amount of charts that you used really helped emphasize your topic and also how many people are affected by this issue.

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