Though the history of social media has been dated back to the 1960s and 1970s, this blog will discuss social media in the late 1990s and early 2000s Keith, 2019). In the past decade, there has been a large shift in technology from PCs in the work force to hand held devices that make it easy to browse online almost instantaneously. While there have been big shifts in the use of social media, for this blog, I will speak specifically on the mental health of adolescents and teenagers that use social media. 70 percent of Americans and more than 2.6 billion people use social media globally now (Keith, 2019). Dr. Claire Edwards speaks in her book, “Social Media and Mental Health”, that “in 2016, 23% of children aged 8-11 and 72% of children aged 12-15 in the United Kingdom had a social media profile. In addition, this number doubled to 21-43% for those who are under 10 and 11 years old, and increased to 50-74% between 12 and 13 year olds (Edwards, 2018).
Image 1. Source
While there is a stigma around the youth and social media, there have also been many positives that come from it. While the article, “Social Media Use and Social Connectedness in Adolescents: The Positives and the Potential Pitfalls” by Allen, Ryan, Gray, McInerney, and Waters speaks specifically on how social media fosters social correctedness in adolescent development. Not only is social correctedness an element that is positively effecting adolescents, but also a sense of belonging, psychosocial wellbeing, and identity development and and processes are shown as a constructive use of social media for adolescents and teenagers (Allen et. al, 2014).
In addition, educators are presenting social media to students early on. “Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments” by Dr. Qiyun Wang discusses that a wide amount of educators are now utilizing social media in their curriculum (Wang, n.d.). The journal speaks on how “IJSMILE proposes and fosters discussion on the affordances of social media (social networking sites) for teaching and learning, with emphasis on the potential ways and concerns of using social media in the educational context and implications for designing interactive and collaborative learning environments” (Wang, n.d.). Though there are many positives of teens mental health while utilizing social media, there are some negative aspects, even within schools.
Image 2. Source
Though some aspects may be obvious to certain individuals as to why social media may have a negative effect on teen mental health, it is necessary to look at the most important. Within a large amount of article from the listicle, certain academic journals spoke on the use of social media of teens in certain demographics (urban settings, rural settings, different countries, etc.), as well as teens with disabilities in social media. While there are many differences between a bunch of these elements, clearly teenagers can feel a sense of ostracism and alienation from the not only the virtual world, but the real world, making it hard to focus on education or personal relationships.
Knowles, Lee, O’Riordan and Lazebnik state after their study, “There are many risks involved with social media; however, it has become an integral part of adolescence. Approximately half of parents reported they would be interested in having their doctors discuss Internet and social media safety during a visit. Although there are several topics to be covered in a well physical, the risks of social media should be acknowledged. While adolescents may be more experienced with technology than their parents, they lack the maturity and insight to anticipate consequences that have the potential to lead to negative outcomes” (Knowles et. al, 2014).
Dr. Angela Mattke from the Mayo Clinic discusses that outside the classroom is where teens are having the biggest issue. She states that “teenagers are learning to become passive engagers and are losing out on the social connection”. Furthermore, she discusses that while teens in the U.S. continuing to experience rates of depression and anxiety, there is also an aspect of losing sleep potentially due to social media.
Image 3. Source (Link to YouTube video)
Unfortunately, the research gathered for this blog post suggests that social media has a more negative effect on teens mental health. While this is an opinion, it seems that because adolescents and young adults are still developing, it is hard to incorporate such a large element into theirs lives; however, research did show a few positives within education that is a key aspect to look at.