Social Media and the Mental Health of Your Teen

Social Media has become a constant in the lives of our teens and the world. Many of us check our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or browse Reddit every morning before getting out of bed. Your teen probably spends hours on Instagram and Snapchat sending ‘snaps’ and ‘dm’s’ during their days (and nights). It could be the reason your child is staying awake into the late hours of the night. With so much time spent online and browsing all that social media has to offer, have you considered how this might be negatively affecting the mental health of your teen? Insight Treatment have teenage counseling services and we have been treating teens for many years and it has been our experience that each adolescent is complicated and unique, therefore needing individualized treatment.

You may not think your teen spends that much time on social media, they’re at school most of the day anyway. However, taking a look at a report by Common Sense Media teens spend an average of 9 hours on social media per day. In fact, if you have an Instagram account you can look at your own personal statistics on your account. They show you a break down of how long you browsed the platform down to the hour and day of the week. According to Psychology Today, a large chunk of teens, 92 percent, go online every day. 24 percent are online nearly constantly and 89 percent use one social media platform every day. With depression and mental illness coming to the forefront of social discussion is it becomes more common than ever to learn that young teen (and even middle school aged children) are dealing with depression, loneliness, anxiety, and other mental disorders. 

Social Media and the Mental Health of Your Teen1

The use of social media isn’t an exact pinpoint for a teen’s mental health issues, so before you go banning them from all their beloved social platforms, read on. The technology boom and the invention of social media itself have greatly changed not only the way that society interacts but also the way that your children socialize, feel towards one another and relate to their peers. Texting has replaced phone calls and you’re probably familiar with a room of silent teens sitting in front of a TV or game all staring at their phones. No longer are teens whispering rude rumors in the hallway. Instead, they’re sharing compromising photos, nasty memes and harmful ‘snap’s on social media with the quickness of wildfire. And yet, while those socially damaging Instagram posts and snapshots can go out, deleting them isn’t all that easy. Teens quickly ‘screen grab’ those posts and save them, you’ll usually see this referenced in screenshots of text messages and called ‘receipts’. Bullying has moved on from hair pulling and name calling to a more dangerous game of social media warfare and it can be incredibly damaging to your

With the internet a constant connection point for a majority of people you have to wonder how much time your child is spending engaging with real in-person human beings. There is ever growing research that suggests that so much time on social media and browsing the internet is leading to teens (and adults) isolating themselves from social interaction. When your child’s outings with friends turn into staring into the abyss that is social media you may be concerned how it affecting your child’s mental health. If you want to work to combat the social media-soaked existence you and your child are living in you may have to work by setting an example. Remember that it would probably feel like the end of the world for you to take your child’s phone away as a punishment. Its usually surrounded with meltdowns, screaming matches or tears. Instead of taking your teen’s phone you could consider making a game of it. Spend a weekend day somewhere fun (your teen can choose) but suggest the challenge of leaving your phones at home. This can allow both you and your child to spend time engaged with the world around you. It can also show you both how disconnecting from that tiny computer in your hand can feel refreshing. You can also suggest that you and your teen (or just your teen) get involved in a hobby that falls far outside of social media and focuses on using their hands to create. It can be in the form of painting, pottery, woodwork or even sports that keep your teen busy. Doing this can create a much needed new sense of purpose and can engage your teen to become more creative and learning an interesting and admirable skill that most other teens don’t have. Social media isn’t a monster and fighting your phone isn’t always the answer. They’re both still very useful tool despite their downfall. However, taking the time to recognize their ability to be harmful to your child’s mental well being can be the first step in finding ways of creating new paths to health.