Teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression
Today, most adolescents have access to social media. But, there is a growing concern about the increased use of social media. Research shows that when adolescents spend more time on social media, they are at an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Spending more time on social media reduces social interaction which increases the risk of suffering anxiety and depression. Adolescents who spend more time on social media experience addiction. Worrying about being inadequately connected can lead to anxiety. Spending more time in social media exposes adolescents to cyberbullying increasing the risk of anxiety and depression. This risk is even higher for students who are both bullies and victims. Also, adolescents who spend more time on social media are at the risk of having low self-esteem and reduced self-confidence increasing the risk of depressive symptoms. Teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression because of reduced social interaction, worries about inadequate connection, exposure to cyberbullying, reduced self-esteem, and low self-confidence.
Spending more time in social media increases the risk of anxiety and depression among adolescents. The Journal of JAMA Pediatrics published a study that showed that adolescents who spend more time on social media are more likely to suffer depression. According to the study, teens who over three hours daily on social media are more likely to suffer mental health problems. The study analyzed national data of 6,600 teens from a survey funded by the US federal government (Riehm et al 1266). The study was done between 2013 and 2016. It showed that as the use of social media increased, so did the risk of mental health problems specifically anxiety and depression. This showed social media as a risk factor for mental health problems among teens (Riehm et al 1266). The more the time spent on social media the higher the risk of the problems. Other studies have also reported similar findings.
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has published a study that shows an association between increased anxiety and depression among adolescents with the increased use of social media. For the study over 3000 students were observed over four years period. Researchers focused on the amount of time spent on social media and its impact on mental health. The findings showed that spending more time in social media increased depressive symptoms (Boers et al 2006). According to the study, adolescents are at an increased risk of severe symptoms of anxiety as a result of spending more time on social media.
Spending more time on social media leads to a lack of social interaction which increases the risk of suffering anxiety and depression (Hoge 77). Most adolescents avoid social situations because of fear of humiliation or embarrassment. To avoid these situations, they prefer spending more time on social media. This behavior increases the risk of suffering anxiety (Hoge 77). For adolescents who prefer social media over the face to face interactions for any fears, the behavior is reinforced overtime making the adolescent more avoidant worsening the anxiety. Research shows that adolescents who replace face-to-face interactions with social media develop social impairments. They are more likely to develop anxiety symptoms (Hoge 77). Research also shows that young people who report anxiety tend to rely on social media for social interaction over face-to-face. Also, spending more time on social media increases the risk of developing depression. Research shows that adolescents who spend more time on social media can suffer social isolation which increases the risk of depression.
Worries about being inadequately connected to social media can lead to anxiety. Spending more time on social media is addictive to adolescents (Hoge 78). They want to be always connected. Worries of being disconnected at any time increase the risk of anxiety. Research conducted in Japan showed increased levels of anxiety in students for not receiving responses in social media. The students had developed a fear of being hated. The research found that spending more time on social media is associated with increased levels of anxiety and depression (Hoge 78). For example, students spend more time on social media focusing on likes. They want to see more people liking their pictures or comments. If they don’t gain more likes, they are more likely to develop anxiety symptoms. Some would even go to the extent of accepting risky challenges to gain more likes and probably feel good about themselves (Hoge 78). But, the adverse effects would be worse if something disrupted the connection to social media to see how friends are responding.
Spending more time in social media exposes adolescents to cyberbullying increasing the risk of anxiety and depression (Nixon 143). Cyberbullying among adolescents is more common now. Some studies have shown a prevalence of up to 48%. The studies show that victims of cyberbullying are more likely to develop mental health problems. Most victims report developing negative feelings such as worries, embarrassment, loneliness, anxiety, or depression (Nixon 144). Today, adolescents are using social media as a primary and necessary practice as opposed to an extra in communication. This has been associated with the harmful practice of cyberbullying. Available research shows a relationship between social media harassment and affective disorders. For instance, research has shown a relationship between depression among adolescents and cyberbullying (Nixon 144). Higher levels of harassment were found to have higher levels of depression. Study participants cited feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, and sadness.
Adolescents who are both perpetrators and victims of cyberbullying are at increased risk of anxiety and depression (Nixon 149). Research shows that adolescents who bully others in social media and they are also bullied experience adverse impacts on their mental health. These adolescents report anxiety and increased levels of depression. Compared to their peers, bullies, and victims of cyberbullying experience other factors that increase anxiety levels. They have poor relationships with their families. They are highly victimized offline. Also, peers isolate themselves from them. This means that this group is at an increased risk of experiencing negative health outcomes. In general, research shows that participation in cyberbullying increases the risk of internalizing problems among adolescents such as anxiety and depression (Nixon 149).
Spending more time on social media affects self-esteem among adolescents which increases the risk of mental health problems (Kırcaburun 69). Spending more time on social media means spending more time comparing oneself with other people. It also means spending more time determining if one is accepted by other people or not. If one gets an undesirable response, their self-esteem is lowered. Self-esteem is known to decrease during adolescence. But, according to research, increased use of social media has a greater impact on self-esteem (Kırcaburun 64). When levels of self-esteem reduce, adolescents are at an increased risk of showing depressive symptoms. Various studies have similar findings. They show low self-esteem as an important risk factor and as a factor contributing to depression (Kırcaburun 69). Researchers associate this with the fact that individuals with low self-esteem tend to be more sensitive to negativity which increases their risk of mental health problems.
Research shows that increased use of social media reduces self-confidence increasing the risk of anxiety (Ólafarson 8). When adolescents spend more time on social media, they increasingly see glossy images on the lives of other people. These images are often the opposite of reality. When adolescents compare themselves with these images, they start feeling inferior and experience negative emotions such as low self-confidence (Ólafarson 8). This provokes anxiety. This happens after seeing other people in social media as happier. When an adolescent sees peers on social media as happy, which may not be the reality, they start doubting themselves and their abilities. These doubts are associated with mental health problems such as anxiety (Ólafarson 8). Also, spending more time on social media reduces the sleeping time associated with anxiety and depression among adolescents. Good sleep is required for mental wellbeing. Adolescents tend to spend more time on social media especially during the night instead of sleeping. This means sleeping less than the recommended time. This is associated with anxiety.
Spending time on social media can help lower the risk of anxiety and depression among adolescents. But, available research shows that spending more time on social media increases the risk of anxiety and depression for the population. So, proper measures must be taken to reduce the risk of mental health problems among adolescents. Various recommendations are provided. First, parents should limit the amount of time their teens are spending on social media (Hoge 79). This strategy will reduce the adverse effects on social media consumption among adolescents. Second, parents should encourage adolescents to consider other channels of entertainment such as gaming and TV to reduce the odds of developing anxiety or depression.
Third, healthcare providers play a major role in protecting adolescents from anxiety and depression. They can do this by; first, educating parents on how to guide their teens in the consumption of appropriate content. Appropriate content can be identified by reading reviews, reading plot descriptions, using content ratings, and screening the content before allowing the teenagers to access it (Hoge 79). Healthcare providers should guide parents in promoting face-to-face communication and limiting time spent on social media by their teens. Also, they should guide parents on how to develop and implement rules on social media use. This strategy has proven effective in reducing anxiety and depression. Second, healthcare providers should screen adolescents for social media exposure to help to treat anxiety and depression (Hoge 79).
In conclusion, it is evident that teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression. This is associated with reduced social interaction, worries about inadequate connection, exposure to cyberbullying, reduced self-esteem, and low self-confidence. To ensure that adolescents use social media properly and are safe from mental health problems, proper measures should be taken. Parents, educators, policymakers, and healthcare providers should all play a major role. The proposed recommendations can ensure that adolescents spending a healthy time on social media preventing them from developing anxiety and or depression. The recommendations can also help in treating teems already showing depressive symptoms.
Boers Elroy, Afzali Mohammad, Cinrod Ponrod, “Temporal Associations of Screen Time and Anxiety Symptoms among Adolescents. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2019, 65(3), 206-208.
Hoge Elizabeth, Bickham Daivd & Cantor Joanne, “Digital Media, Anxiety, and Depression in Children. Pediatrics 2017, 140(92), 77-81.
Kırcaburun Kagan,”Self-Esteem, Daily Internet Use and Social Media Addiction as Predictors of Depression among Turkish Adolescents. Journal of Education and Practice, 2016, 7(24), 64-72.
Nixon Charisse, “Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health” Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 2014, 5, 143–158.
Ólafarson Balddur, “Social Media Use and its Connection to Anxiety and Gender” Reykjavik University, 2018, 1-22.
Riehm Kira, Feder Kenneth, Tormohlen Kayla et al, “Associations between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems among US Youth”. JAMA Psychiatry, 2019, 76(12), 1266-1273.