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The Effects of Social Media on Teenagers

The Effects of Social Media on Teenagers
Kevin Cleary

Social media has grown exponentially over the last 10-15 years. Whether it is TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, the effects of social media on teenagers are becoming more pronounced. Everyone from politicians to influencers to celebrities has a significant footprint in today's social media.  

As this type of public communication grows, social media's effects on teenage mental health have come under scrutiny. Many studies show the negative effects of social media on teenagers. We have some info that may help protect your teen's mental health. 

The Positive Effects of Social Media on Teens 

Yes, if used properly, there are actually positive effects of social media for teens. It can allow them to create online identities to communicate with others and build social networks. These networks can provide teens with support or advice, especially those experiencing exclusion, handicaps, or chronic illnesses.  

Among LGBTQ youths, 52% stated that social media helps make them feel better when experiencing difficult emotions. These can act as impromptu support groups when used properly. Other positive uses for social media include: 

  • Entertainment 
  • Self-expression 
  • Current events 
  • Interactions across geographical barriers 
  • Meaningful connection with peers 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, social media platforms helped teens feel more connected and less isolated during lockdown. Some social media aspects that are humorous or distracting allow some teens to connect with other teens/peers, which may even help teens avoid depression. 

The Negative Effects of Social Media On Teens 

Unfortunately, there are many negative effects of social media on teenagers. The anonymity of the internet increases the risk that it can encourage those who wish to use it badly. The spreading of rumors or unrealistic views of other people's or celebrity's lives can create an almost "fake reality” and lead to: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Cyberbullying  
  • Distractions 
  • Peer pressure 
  • Social isolation  
  • Sleep disruption 
  • Negative body image issues 

These risks may be related to how much social media teens are exposed to. The Mayo Clinic points to a 2019 study of more than 6,500 teens in the United States aged 12 to 15 who spent more than three hours per day using social media and may be at risk for heightened mental health problems. Another study in 2019 from England of more than 12,000 teens aged 13 to 16 found that those using social media more than three times a day predicted poor mental health and well-being. 

Online Safety 

Telling a teenager to stay off social media may not be practical or realistic. So how do you minimize the effects of social media on youth mental health? Believe it or not, there are ways to promote online safety and shield them from negative effects. 

  1. Set Reasonable Limits: Talk with your teen about preventing social media from interfering with daily activities, sleep, or homework. Create bedtime routines that avoid electronic media use (cell phones, tablets, etc.). Don't just impose these on your child; follow them yourself! 
  2. Monitor Accounts: Tell your teen you will regularly check their social media accounts. Being upfront eliminates the risk of them feeling like you are spying on them. Make sure you follow through and do this at least once a week. Be on the lookout for "fake" accounts; a Pew Research poll found that 70% of teens hide their online behavior from parents. 
  3. Tell Them What's Unacceptable: Talk with your teen and explain that spreading gossip, bullying, or negatively talking about someone's reputation is NOT okay. Explain what is appropriate and acceptable when sharing on social media platforms. 
  4. Talk about social media: Explain to your teen how you use social media properly and positively. Ask them how they use social media and how it makes them feel. Do this in a non-accusatory manner. Also, reinforce that social media often portrays unrealistic images as the norm. 
  5. Reinforce In-Person Contact with Friends: Social interactions are critical for human beings. Encourage your teen to interact with others in a face-to-face environment. This can be particularly important for those vulnerable to social anxiety disorders.  

Social media can be a positive experience if utilized properly. Unfortunately, many have used it to spread unrealistic lifestyles, bullying, lies, and even hatred. Avoiding the negative effects of social media may seem difficult, if not impossible, but it can be done. The key is communication and parental oversight.  

Take a proactive stance on your teen's social media use and practice these guidelines yourself. Don't impose rules on your teens that you wouldn't follow yourself. 


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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