The Effects of Social Media on Teenagers (Social Effects)
The emergence of social media has changed the lives of people of all ages. But it is teenagers in particular who are exposed to the harmful effects that social media can have. Adolescence is an important period for development. It’s true that social media is useful for having easy access to the people in your life, but a teenager’s mental and social development can be impeded by communicating largely through digital means. Teens also have very impressionable minds, and they are often exposed to harmful messages that circulate throughout social media.
Whenever they’re not doing schoolwork, teens are spending extensive amounts of time scrolling on social media. They often communicate through texting and social media posts. Even phone calls are less common these days. This means that teenagers today are doing a large amount of their socializing from behind a screen. This isn’t exactly healthy for the long-term. In person communication usually presents people with many opportunities to build their social skills. They learn how to relate to people, be good listeners, as well as how to properly express their own thoughts and feelings. But a lack of face to face socializing deprives teens of these opportunities. And there is no way to add a personal touch. Body language and facial expression aren’t seen. There’s no chance for a hug or high-five, or to make eye contact while
laughing. So teens end up becoming anxious about the very idea of talking to people in person. And this anxiety can carry over into adulthood.
It’s true that social media can help teens meet other people with shared interests. But you can’t form strong bonds through a screen. Bonding requires shared experiences rather than just shared interests. And even when teens are in the company of potential friends, they still keep
scrolling on their phone instead of enjoying each other’s company. This is worrying because social skills are just like any other skill. The more you practice it, the better you will get at it. Social media can also be a barrier because conversations are much less organic. Responses
are carefully worded, and you can’t see the effect they have on the other person. For these reasons, teenagers can grow up with a lack of experience in creating and maintaining good friendships because of social media.
Teens are more likely to be bold when they can hide behind a phone or computer screen. They can become cruel and unapologetic. When there are kids that don’t fit in, or ones who are getting into disagreements with their friends, social media allows things to be blown out of
proportion. Peer acceptance is very important to teens, and the rise of social media platforms has made it easier to single kids out and gang up on each other. This tends to be more common among girls. Girls are socialized to be very aware of how they act and what they look like. This causes them to constantly compare themselves to others. When teens don’t meet their peers’ expectations of them, it results in a low self-esteem. And those with low self-esteem often put others down to feel better about themselves.
Social media also facilitates the spread of harmful messages. For example, social media sites are an environment in which alcohol-related content is frequently created and consumed by adolescents. So online portrayals of drinking on personal pages as well as unregulated alcohol
marketing on social media sites may reach underage people. And studies have shown that being exposed to pro-alcohol messages on social media has been correlated with offline alcohol behavior and risky drinking. Social media has also dramatically increased exposure to unrealistic beauty standards and body ideals. For young girls in particular, it becomes easy to compare themselves to the unrealistic ideals portrayed on social media. This is damaging to their own body image and self-esteem.
The rise of social media has clearly seen many effects, and teenagers have been particularly vulnerable to them. Once we’ve understood this impact, we can encourage teens to curb their social media usage. We can help them get involved in hobbies or after-school activities. If we can teach teenagers how to get out there and interact with the world instead of worrying about their image, they will grow up to be happier and more confident adults.