Teen Mental Health Issues and Social Media
Adolescence has always been a difficult period – a transition from childhood, the most fun period of one’s life, to adulthood, a period where responsibilities begin to pile up. It is the stage where one experiences a lot of changes, including the ones which are physical, social, emotional, and psychological. As teens now come face-to-face with responsibilities and expectations, it is only normal for them to occasionally feel sad, down, and depressed.
The usual cause for teenagers to feel down differs – there are the academic expectations that they cannot reach, certain behaviors expected from them by their parents and family, and the inability to meet the standards of their peers. And then there are those unmet expectation of teens they set for themselves and for those around them. Its easy to get frustrated and sometimes even depressed. And to add to the list of things that weigh on the mental and emotional health of teens is social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA And Teen MENTAL HEALTH
It is obvious that social media has changed how people interact and communicate with one another. We now live in the digital age, and there are both benefits and risks that accompany this. Social media was created as a platform for people to be social with one another, even linking family and friends who live thousands of miles apart. Its is both accessible easily and affordably through different devices. In the old days, before the rise of the digital age, exposure to media was largely through television, and parents were able to manage viewing time by simply turning off the TV during school nights. However these days, it is hard for parents to control the access of their kids to the internet and social media, which has led to the younger lot missing out on the development of their social skills. This is due to the fact that teenagers and adults alike, spend a lot of their available time connected to their mobile devices and social media apps.
Since teenagers spend most of their day plastered on the screen of their mobile phones because of social media, they tend to get lost in a make believe world. Young women see photos of social media celebrities with flawless skin and this effects their body image because they do not look like that. Because of this comparison, some young women feel inadequate. What they do not realize is that most of the photos they see on social media altered or edited. The same goes for photos teenagers see of people who have lean and fit bodies. With social media, young people are open to cyber-bullying and unrealistic comparisons, which can then lead to depression and anxiety.
Where SOCIAL MEDIA can harm YOUNG PEOPLE
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, a GP, narrated a story about a sixteen year old patient who was referred to him that is a proof of how social media is currently causing mental problems to teenagers. When the doctor assessed the teenager, the first treatment that came to his mind was to give him anti-depressant medicines. However, he decided to talk further first with the teen, and it made him realize that social media may be causing the teen’s depression. What the doctor did, instead of prescribing drugs, was to slowly wean him off social media by limiting his hours on it. The solution was effective, because the teenager told the doctor he was feeling better. After six month, the teen’s mother wrote to the doctor about how well her son is doing, with a vast improvement in behaviour and being happy.
The doctor stated the social media really has a negative effect on mental health if used excessively, so he suggested setting some rules to be able to solve the problem. The same sentiment was shared by a group of US child welfare experts. The group actually wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and asked him to shut down the messaging app, ‘Messenger Kids’, calling the creation of the platform an irresponsible move, supporting pre-teen kids to stay on social media for long periods. The group mentioned in their letter how social media has a negative effect on the mental health of young people.
According to a recent research, major episodes of depression in adolescents has risen from 8.7% occurrence in 2005 to 11.3% in the year 2014. Depression rates in teens are rising, which coincidentally overlaps with the popularity of social media. We cannot ignore the obvious correlation. Perhaps it is time for parents to set ground rules, or better yet, be good examples of the right use of technology and social media. They can adopt Dr. Chatterjee’s solution, and perhaps the teens of today will learn to develop constructive social skills and become happier individuals.
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