It seems like the internet just came suddenly and made a huge difference, including adolescence. Regardless of whether this change has been for the good or bad depends on how you see it. Teenagers today are the first generations that can’t imagine existence without the internet and the different gadgets that connect us to it.
Our electronic devices have become extensions of our body systems like crutches. Then again, you may likewise say that these powerful assets give us wings. Some individuals believe that the internet and its different social networking wings affect us negatively, while others don’t think so. Parents who stick to their pre-Internet lifestyle are scrambling to ensure they have the right answers to guide their children.
Technology is on the rise and keeps changing, creating innovations for people to connect. One of the most widely recognized ways of using new technologies, particularly by teens, is social media. While at first little was known about how social media affects teenagers, the effect of social media on teenagers has begun to be understood by many. Studies on social media and teenagers have shown that technology might increase bullying and peer pressure while likewise leading to mental issues and substance use.
The Rise of Technology
Since the start of the public utilization of the internet in 1991, many people have found better ways of using this technology. As technology has become more accessible, teenage internet use has also skyrocketed. With teen media use on the ascension, organizations are more frequently profiting on social media influence teens.
With reports on the industry regarding teenagers, the most important customers, the market targeted at teens, is probably not going to vanish. Today’s teenagers, known as Generation Z, are, as a whole, overwhelmingly more connected via technology than past generations. To understand the increase in the use of technology by teens, stats can be utilized to portray the new youth culture. Some significant Generation Z technology stats to know include:
- Almost all teens, or 95% of them, have access to smartphones
- Nearly half of teenagers (45%) report being connected via technology almost constantly
- Another 44% of teenagers are always online during the day
- Most teens believe that social media use neutrally affects them
- Less than one quarter (24%) of teenagers believe that social media has negative effects
How Does the Teen Brain Respond to Social Media?
For some teenagers, social media can be practically addictive. In a research carried out by the UCLA brain mapping center, they found that specific parts of teen brains became enacted by “likes” on social media, sometimes making them want to use social media even more. During the research, analysts utilized an fMRI scanner to picture the brains of 32 teens as they utilized a fictitious social media application looking like Instagram. The teens were shown more 140 pictures where “likes” were believed to be from their friends. However, the likes were really assigned by the research group.
Subsequently, the brain scans showed that in addition to a number of areas, the nucleus accumbens, region of the brain’s reward system, was particularly active when they saw an enormous number of likes on their own pictures. According to researchers, this region of the brain is the same area that responds when we come across photos of people we like or when we win a lottery. Likewise, researchers say that this reward part of the brain is especially sensitive during the teenage years, which could explain why teenagers are so attracted to social media.
Positive Effects of Social Media on Teenagers
Let’s be honest; the reality is that social media isn’t going anywhere at any point in the near future. Remember that teenagers experience the internet in different ways, which implies that it is not always negative. There’re some positive impacts of social media on teens today. According to Harvard research, “The capacity to bring issues to light, connect with people around the world, and share beautiful moments can be uplifting and encouraging for some.
Many teenagers understand that pictures they see are curated snapshots and not real-life. They are less likely to let those photos cause them to feel shaky about their own lives.” Also, teens for decades have confronted developmental difficulties, and most aren’t new. What makes today unique is that the difficulties are now highlighted in various spaces (such as the internet) that can enhance them and shift their quantity, quality, and scale.
What Impact Does Social Media Have on Mental Health?
Without a doubt, social networking and social media play an essential role in expanding teenage social connections and helping them understand important technical skills. Be that as it may, what effect is the entirety of this social media having on teen minds? Most reports show that the effect can be critical. In addition to the fact that teens are developing brain vulnerability to so much time on social media, they often have issues regulating their screen time, thereby increasing the risks.
Moreover, they are more vulnerable to peer pressure, sexting, and cyberbullying—all activities, including digital communication—making exploring the online social world deceptive at times. With everything taken into account, various health problems arise because of too much time on the web.
The Downside Social Media Use by Teens
Go through some of the current studies, and you will see that the negatives are, in general, bigger than the positives. While teenagers can utilize social media to link up and build up friendships with others, they likewise confront trolls, cyberbullying, toxic comparisons, lack of sleep, and less face-to-face interaction, to give some examples. Too much time spent online or on social media can lead to symptoms of anxiety as well as depression. Here is how social media can be destructive to your teen:
- Concentrating on likes: The need to pick up “likes” on social media can make teenagers settle on decisions they would some way or another not make, including modifying their appearance, taking part in negative practices, and welcoming risky social media challenges
- Cyberbullying: Teenage girls specifically are in danger of cyberbullying through the utilization of social media, but teenage boys are not invulnerable. Cyberbullying is connected to anxiety, depression, a raised risk of suicidal thoughts.
- Making comparisons: Though many teenagers know that their companions share just their highlight reels on social media, it is hard to abstain from making comparisons. Everything from physical appearance to supposed failures and successes is under a magnifying lens on social media.
- Accumulation of too many fake friends: Even with the aid of the privacy settings, teenagers can connect with a huge number of friends through friends of friends on the web. The more people they have on their friends’ list, the more people have access to taking their snaps and screenshot photos. Also, they have access to their updates and use them for different purposes. There is nothing like privacy on social media.
- Less face time: you need daily practices to harness your social interaction skills, even if you are a teenager. It is hard to build compassion and empathy (our secret weapons in the war on bullying) when teenagers spend more time on social media than they do in person. Human connection is an integral asset and builds skills that last forever.
There is a happy medium here somewhere. The weapon to helping teenagers balance real life and social media friendships is to keep the lines of interaction open and keep talking. Sincere communication shows your child that you are always there to lend a helping hand, not to pass judgment or lecture.
It is likewise vital to walk the walk. Find times on weekends to show your teen that there is an entire world out there that does not require a handheld screen. They may miss their phone a lot less than they think they will, and this is a right way for them to learn.
In spite of recognizing these negative effects, teen social media use continues to be on the rise. While Facebook once commanded the market, teens have headed out to other platforms. Some of the most popular teenage social media platforms include:
Before you have a serious conversation with your child about their social media addiction, let them know that their addiction gives you concerns, and you would like them to assess the degree of their problems and take a self-examination. Here are a couple of questions you can ask them to answer genuinely:
Are they always thinking about going online on social media? Do they keep thinking about what they were doing on their social media, and what different updates they saw?
Do they keep pondering about what new things they will be putting up on their social media and what one of their friends might be posting soon?
Do they want to be online always as it makes them feel positive? Do they think that social media is the best way to meet new people rather than going out to meet new friends?
Have they attempted to limit the amount of time they spend on social media? Do they feel angry, irritated, anxious, or depressed if they are not able to check their social media status constantly and at regular intervals?
Do they always want to be in a position where they can always check their social media status any time they want?
Does their enthusiasm for social media affect their emotional, social, and some other relations they have with their friends or family? Does their social media addiction affect their studies?
In this way, ask your teen to answer the questions mentioned above. Their answers will give you a reasonable idea of the extent of the problem and whether you have to look for professional help. Inform them about the different ills regarding social media addiction and help them get out of it smoothly.
How Residential Treatment Can Help
Social media addiction treatment at our residential facility starts with a reduction in the amount of time the teen spends on social media. Keep in mind that this will vary based on the teen’s condition. Still, the objective is to remove the social media distraction to urge the adolescent to figure out how to engage with their general surroundings constructively. A few instances of this incorporate music therapy to express feelings and sound healing sessions to induce profound relaxation.
While limiting the amount of time spent on social media and expanding therapeutic experiences, professionals work closely with patients to inspect underlying issues. Generally, teenagers that compulsively seek distractions and attention on social media make meaningful relationships between their actions, triggers, and consequences. When problems surface, it is not uncommon for therapy to deal with mood disorders or substance abuse as part of treatment for social media addiction.
Internet is setting down deep roots, and that implies learning appropriate limits and control in the digital space is a piece of modern life. Be that as it may, no one has to make sense of this alone. If your teenager is with compulsive social media use or other social, medical problems, our treatment team can help.
Since so much brain development happens during the adolescent years, parents must understand the effect that social media use can have on their teens. Hence, it is essential to set up rules for social media use. It is likewise crucial for families to have customary talks on the most proficient way to use social media safely and responsibly. When families navigate the world of the internet together, a teenager’s online world becomes substantially more manageable.
There’re options available for teenagers who experience addiction that isn’t in the form of substance use. Treatment for social media addiction can be custom-made to an individual’s particular needs. Social media addiction can be dangerous to your teenager’s mental health and development. If your child has a social media addiction, contact us at our residential treatment facility, where we will help you determine the best treatment for them.