Is social media impacting our mental health?

Reliance on social media becoming a concern

Jessica Bower, Copy Editor

Social media today is defined as technology that facilitates the sharing of thoughts, ideas, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. It is particularly significant among adolescents, who rely on applications such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat to communicate with each other and express themselves online. 

With so many teens reliant on social media to communicate and engage, how it is affecting – either negatively or positively – the minds and thoughts of young adults today?

Does it cause feelings of anxiety or lead to depression, establish self-image issues, or does it otherwise benefit teenagers?

According to a survey conducted by United Press National (UPI), parents were concerned that the overuse of social media lead their children to partake in unhealthy eating, engage in less physical activity, experience depression, and even resort to taking their own lives. 

More than half of the parents surveyed were worried about their child being cyberbullied. During the pandemic, excessive use of social media was believed to be the biggest issue and a large health concern, as stated by this survey. 

When asked about the effects of social media, Enochs High School senior Jessica Rebiero-Chand stated, “The majority of the time, social media is negative because there are several things online that can influence how people view their body, the way they live, or the things they like. There’s a constant fear of judgement, like what others may think or say about you online. It can certainly have a negative effect on teens’ mental health, but it can also be a sort of distraction and help people get away from things.”

In support of Chand’s statement is a report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and discussed by UPI, which focused on the correlation between excessive social media and depression. In this study, it was concluded that the risk for depression rose with the amount of time young adults spent on social media.

Those who were active online for around four hours a day were at a much higher risk for experiencing depression. 

Janna Goulart, also a senior from Enochs High School, reported “I find myself comparing myself to others physically or financially. When I am on social media for too long, I begin to lose a grip on what is socially correct or acceptable. I believe that it has enhanced certain issues within myself and this comes from seeing things at a young age that I shouldn’t have been exposed to.” 

Evidently, there is a strong connection between the use of social media among teens and mental health, especially in these times. Whether some use it to escape reality, or others for communication and entertainment purposes, it proves to be damaging all the same. 

Considering that technology is only advancing and becoming more common, it will be interesting to see how it affects the minds of the youth long-term.