Social media has become a common experience for many people. Whether it is checking Facebook for updates, logging into LinkedIn for business networking, or using Snapchat to communicate, social media has become a part of our everyday lives. Teenagers, of course, are often on the leading edge in the use of social media. It is not unusual for teens to spend hours a day interacting with friends and playing games through the internet and social media. Many people wonder if the extensive use of social media by teenagers has a negative impact on their mental well-being. A new study by the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) attempts to answer this question.
According to an article published by JAMA, “adolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day using social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems. ”While the study leaves many questions unanswered, it does attempt to give us insight into the impact that social media has on the emotional development of adolescents. Our clinical experience points to some of the factors that may contribute to the impact that social media has on the mental health of adolescents. Some of the areas of most concern are:
- Increased risk of cyberbullying – The more time teenagers spend on social media, the more risk they have of being exposed to cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can lead teenagers to feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and alone.
- Less opportunity to develop social skills – One of the primary developmental tasks of adolescence is the development of social skills. There is no substitute for spending face-to-face time with other teens. This is how teens learn to read non-verbal cues and develop healthy relationship skills.
- Always connected, but still disconnected – Social media allows teenagers to be always connected to each other. However, it also allows them to be physically disconnected from each other.m. This has an impact on their emotional development.
- Less opportunity to develop self-esteem –Self-esteem rises when a teenager has success and builds skills. The more time a teenager spends on social media, the less time they spend having other types of experiences where they can develop new skills.
- Less parental interactions – Teenagers that spend extensive time on social media are often isolated from their families. As a result, they may miss out on the interactions with their parents that are often an important part of their emotional transition into being an adult.
Social media is now a normal part of our culture, but it doesn’t have to dominate the lives of our teenagers. Limiting the amount of social media and engaging in interpersonal interactions and getting involved in a variety of activities can have a positive impact on the emotional well-being of our teens.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.