Teens, Social Media, and Mental Health


Decades ago, parents of teenagers did not have outlets of communication that would allow their teens to check in with whereabouts and arrival times, but now teenagers are in constant contact with their family, friends, and even acquaintances through various forms of social media. Not only do their parents know where they are and who they are with, but anyone following them on social media can easily monitor their whereabouts. In turn, your teen can also see and interact with everyone in their circle in the same way. This constant contact with people around them has the potential to impact their mental and emotional states, according to various studies.

An article published on Psychology Today’s website references studies conducted on the state of adolescents in reference to their social media use. Different studies produce different outcomes in the studies referenced. Some find that social media has a positive effect on the individuals using it while others discover a negative impact. The difference in these studies is the way the teens monitored were using their social media sites. This is the first thing to find out from your teen – how they are using their social media.

Teens who actively interact with family and friends on social media are considered to be using the platforms as communication tools. When this is the case, social media provides a positive emotion for its users. Conversely, teens who scroll through social media to see what others are doing without interacting, are found to suffer from depression and feelings of loneliness. Questions about why they use social media and what they like about it will help to determine which lane your child is in regarding a negative or positive path.

If social media is one of your child’s tools for communication, then your child is having positive mental benefits from their use of the platform; however, if your child uses social platforms to keep up or see what others are doing, they could be suffering from use. Ask the right questions to determine the effect of social media on your child.

Regardless which lane your child may be in, time off screen is important. Limiting time on social media based on hours, minutes, and seconds is becoming more difficult. The article recommends creating times where screens are off limits instead. Meal times, traveling in the car, or the time before breakfast are all good choices when deciding a time to eliminate screen use.

Social media can be a positive thing for teens, but it can also be negative. Interact with your kids, ask them questions, and create opportunities for face-to-face interactions. Doing all of these things will help to create a happy and healthy mental state.