Social media affects the confidence and mental health of teenagers

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Kylie Reisinger

Social Media creates unrealistic expectations and standards for all users.

Social media is a huge part of many teenagers’ lives. There are so many social media platforms, and it can be hard for parents to keep up on restricting their kids from being on those platforms. Some of the most popular social media platforms are Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Facebook, and TikTok. Many people go to social media because of the need to feel connected socially to live an acceptable life.

According to Helpguide.org, there have been many studies that have shown that excessive social media use has lead to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicide.

Center4Research conducted a study in 2016 and reported that an estimated amount of 44.7 million people aged 18 or older in the US had a mental health illness.

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Depression is a massive side effect of excessive social media use.

They also stated that the American Academy of Pediatrics described “Facebook Depression” as a “depression that develops when teens and preteens spend time on social media sites and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression due to the intensity of the online world.” One of the main reasons that social media increases depression is because teens now spend less time connecting with peers outside of social media and more time connecting with peers on social media. The connections they have on social media are less emotionally satisfying which then leads to decreased happiness and mental health.

The Child Mind Institute included in an article that that sleep deprivation is a huge factor in depression in teens and preteens. In the article, they stated that past research showed that 60% of adolescents are looking at their phones in the last hour before they sleep, but among that they also get significantly less sleep than their peers who aren’t invested in social media.

Anxiety is also a very common side effect of excessive social media use.

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Social Anxiety and Anxiety, in general, leads to loneliness and isolation.

Data has shown that anxiety comes from social media use because when users aren’t on social media or aren’t able to use it, they felt withdrawn which creates anxiety. Psychology today states in their article that social media doesn’t create anxiety in users, it fuels the anxiety due to the withdrawal but also the feeling of needing to be liked or good enough on their social media posts.

Social media has also been known to increase the severity of those who have Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD. Verywellmind.com included a lot of information about this link in their article but the facts that stood out were the following:

  • People who suffer from SAD are more likely to be passive Facebook users but will be less likely to leave comments or share opinions due to the anxiety they suffer from.
  • People with Social Anxiety are also more likely to suffer from Internet Addiction Disorder. Internet Addiction Disorder is described as not being able to function daily without being on social media sites, video games, and other internet platforms.
  • People with SAD are more likely to become addicted to the Internet because they can stay behind the screen and stay at home but still stay connected to the world and other people without facing the anxiety of being face to face with others or being around other people.

Self-Image has been one of the things that have been affected by social media the most. Teens and Pre-teens are constantly looking at pictures or videos of models or social media influencers who have the “perfect body.” To those teens and preteens, they begin to see themselves as not good enough because they aren’t as pretty as them or they aren’t skinny enough. Social comparison which is a very common effect of social media is leading to self-image issues in teenagers which then can lead to eating disorders or body dysphoria.

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Eating Disorders have become a huge problem due to social media.

Eating issues and body dysphoria have been linked to social media because there is an ideal “body type” of how girls should look nowadays. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulemia, and also Binge Eating Disorder/Purging. Body shamers are on every social media platform and target teens, preteens and even adults.  They shame people on the appearance of the body whether they are too skinny or too fat and need to work out.

PolicyLab stated in their article that new photo editing apps are also leading to increased eating disorders because they can edit their body to look the way they want it to. Another piece of evidence they stated is that teens and preteens also look up to many celebrities that have had eating disorders and follow their social media and can also develop eating disorders since those celebrities have had them or have them. Two famous social media influencers who have most of their following on TikTok

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Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae Sterling have been victims of body shaming. Charli D’Amelio has 54.5 million followers and Addison Sterling has 39.2 million followers. Both girls both got their fame from doing popular TikTok dances and that is the main content they produce on their accounts. There have been multiple comments on their videos saying that they are too fat, or they’ve gained weight, then once they start losing weight people comment and say that they’re too skinny or they can see their ribs. Both stars have responded on their social media about these comments and have said that they want those comments to stop and it is their body which is their own business. Charli has responded more than once on her Twitter page both to comments and also to Perez Hilton who has body-shamed Charli more than once.  Both stars promote self-love and self-confidence in many of their posts and have still continued to do so.

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