Daniel Saadatmandi /Staff reporter
There are over 1.2 billion teenagers on this planet, over 90% of teenagers between the ages of 13 to 17 have a social media account, and over 51% use their accounts on daily basis. With this near constant use of online social media by teenagers, that allows near instant communication between people, it is definitely affecting their mental health, and so, how is it influencing teenage mental health?
The root problem with the internet and social media is addiction, which affects every other problem on the internet.
Addiction, to anything is harmful, but it is especially the case when it comes to the internet, as the internet as many platforms on the internet are designed to keep your attention as long as possible, the constant flashes, likes and dislikes, notifications, posts and ease to scroll are designed to keep your attention as long as possible. This often causes people to become dependent on social media and around 20% of people feel compelled to check there accounts every three hours, this is called social media anxiety disorder, or SMAD. SMAD symptoms include:
- -Withdrawing from friends and family
- -Experiencing severe nervousness, anxiety or withdrawal symptoms when not able to check social media
- -Failing in attempts to cut back on social media use
- -Stopping to check social media in the middle of a conversation
- -Neglecting or losing interest in school, work and favorite activities
- -Lying about the amount of time spent on social media
Some students were asked questions about there social media use, when asked about non internet related hobbies, many kids struggled to provide answers or gave very general ones like “reading”, and one student, grade 11 Daniel Jee, stated that once he received his phone and thus had more access to the internet, “spent a lot less time on my other hobbies.”
Another student, grade 9 Jaymes Choi, states that he spends over 8 hours on the internet, over a third of the day, he also stated that when separated from the internet by his parents he says “I become very uncomfortable and I need to find where they hid it.” Showing us that he seems to be very dependent on the internet.
This is bad on its own, but addiction often worsens other problems that people suffer such as loneliness.
People need social relationships to thrive and be happy and satisfied in life, however, many people struggle with socializing to a variety of different problems, and often times these people will go to the internet to solve this problem, using social media to fill the void, an thought a moderate amount of social media and help you strengthen or even discover relationships, but many people have wholly online relationships, which will not help them with and often hurt people, as the temporary relives of loneliness trick many people, especially teenagers into thinking we have a true relationship, when in reality people are preventing are selves from truly developing the social skills needed to have true relationships.
Not only that, but the like/dislike button many social media apps have created superficial feelings of popularity and community, and often times people will take them too seriously and will feel judged by this online ranking system, often creating feelings of exclusion and low self-esteem.
Another problem that is a huge problem is cyberbullying, unlike real life bullying, cyberbullying is very easy and hard to enforce people can do it from far away and with a tap of a button. Cyberbullying often results in the same problems as in real life, and can happen more frequently, not only that, but it is also possible to reach a wider audience online, allowing bullies to spread misinformation, and in the worse case, explicit photos, to people across the internet.
This type of behavior has real tangible affects on the victim, as its easy to be constantly harassed and bullied online, and it can often lead to furthering loneliness and depression, which can lead to worsening grades, substance abuse, and even suicide.
This behavior is also surprisingly common, a US survey made in 2018 showed that 1/6 teenagers have experienced at least some form of cyberbullying, with 42% of that being name calling, 32% being the spreading of false rumors, 21% having their activities by people other than there parents, 16% receiving physical threats, and 7% having explicit photos of them being shared without there consent.
As you can see the internet, though its one of are greatest creations, can be a dangerous place that can negatively impact are mental well being, its best that you consider these things before using it, and that thinking before posting or scrolling is extremely important.