Is social media just as bad for teens?
Since the development of social networks, studies have been made which show the disadvantages of its use in young people.
However, some researchers have found that previous studies have taken too broad an approach to the topic.
So, is using social media good for teens? Or does it present more problems for young adults than we think?
Are social networks harming our teens?
Frequent smartphone use among young children and adolescents has been linked to a wide range of mental and even physical health problems.
“The more time teens spend staring at their screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression,” reported The Atlantic.
Studies have shown that teenagers are more dissatisfied with their lives after spending time on social media. the Atlantic describes some teens referring to their phones as an “addiction,” saying using the devices interferes with their sleep schedule.
But there are also apparent physical reactions. A study published last year by the International Society of Parkinson and Movement Disorders found that tic-like behaviors among young women increased significantly during the pandemic. The study said that “some medical centers are seeing up to 10 times their usual case of tics. Before the pandemic, centers were seeing one or two cases per month, but now some say they are seeing between 10 and 20 per month,” according to Business Insider’sreport on the study.
What do these cases have in common? ICT Tac. Doctors reported that many recent patients who reported tics had watched TikTok videos of people who said they had Tourette syndrome, reported Business Intern. A German doctor found that these patients seemed to mimic the mannerisms of a well-known German content creator who shares online how she lives with Tourette syndrome.
Social media and mental health
Bryn Austin, Eating Disorder Specialist and Professor at Harvardsaid social media can have very detrimental effects on teen mental health.
“From experimental research, we know that Instagram, with its algorithm-based content fields tailored to each user’s engagement patterns, can lead vulnerable teens into a dangerous spiral of negative social comparison and hook them to unrealistic ideals of body shape, size and appearance,” Austin said.
On the other hand, Michaeline Jensen, a clinical psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, theorizes that social media may be a coping mechanism, rather than the direct cause of mental health problems in adolescents.
“Very few of these children would go from normal functioning to clinical levels of depression,” Jensen said, according to The New York Times.
Keysha Leonidas is 20 years old and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Being only 10 years old when she first hit the internet, she has spoken about her experience on social media as a black woman. “My self-esteem has definitely taken a big hit. I was already not wanted at school as a black girl, but the internet has taken it even further,” Leonidas told Deseret News.
“These places were just not made for little black girls. All you saw were rich, skinny, blonde, white girls. And even beauty standards aside, it was still awful. … From the music I listened to, to the forums and content I researched, unsupervised internet access absolutely accelerated my development.
As she gets older, Leonidas states that even as an adult, she feels affected by social media use. “I’ve grown, and I’m closer to having a fully developed frontal lobe, and I’m much less affected now by what I find on social media. Yet, I still find myself feeling insecure at times,” she said, “Imagine being a gullible, vulnerable young teenager with no knowledge of the media.”
At what age is social media the worst for mental health?
A study published in Nature Communications – which surveyed more than 84,000 people of all ages in Britain – looked at how age can influence the impact of social media on teenagers. The research showed two periods of adolescence when social media use led to lower levels of “life satisfaction.”
The first period of low life satisfaction correlated with social media use was around puberty, between ages 11 and 13 for girls and between ages 14 and 15 for boys. Both sexes again experienced feelings of dissatisfaction around age 19.
“We actually considered that the links between social media and well-being might be different at different ages – and found that was indeed the case,” said Amy Orben, who led the studyto New York Times.
The problem with social media research
However, social media research isn’t always perfect. Jeff Hancock, a behavioral psychologist at Stanford University, conducted a meta-analysis of 226 studies relating to mental health and social media use. Hancock told the New York Times that many of these studies group all teens into one large group.
“The teenage years aren’t like a constant period of developmental life — they bring rapid changes,” Hancock told The New York Times.
the New York Times reported that using social media in place of other social activities indirectly affected the happiness of many. “Yet research looking for a direct relationship between social media and well-being has found little to be found.”
Another study published in Nature Human Behavior found that many studies of social media use have been overscaled, providing “an analytical flexibility that flags small effects as statistically significant, leading to potential false positives and conflicting results”.
“The association we find between digital technology use and adolescent well-being is negative, but weak, explaining at most 0.4% variation in well-being,” study bed. “Considering the larger context of the data suggests that these effects are too small to justify a policy change.”
Is social media really that bad?
Although there is a plethora of research on the downsides of social media, some researchers find that social media has benefited teens’ lives in some ways. “Although the negative effects of social media tend to get more attention, it is important to consider the positive effects and uses to encourage a healthy relationship between teens and social media,” according to a meta-analysis of several social media studies that have been published in a nursing journal.
Research continues to assert that “adolescents who lack social skills may experience improved self-esteem and well-being through positive feedback from social media connections.” The same meta-analysis reports that some young people find confirmation of identity and communities through the use of social media that they might not have been exposed to in their daily lives without social media.
Other researchers studied teens over a year to see how social media affected their empathy. “Social media was positively correlated with affective empathy and cognitive empathy, but not sympathy.” The study also found that girls used social media more often than boys, leading them to score higher than boys on an empathy scale.
Ezra Johnson, a 21-year-old college student living in Fargo, North Dakota, has been using social media since she was 9 years old. She told Deseret News that social media has given her perspectives on life that she would otherwise never have encountered. in a small town in North Dakota.
“I think it helped me become a more open thinker since you’re exposed to people from all over the world. Their cultures, opinions, beliefs, etc. It showed me the unfiltered truths of the world,” Johnson said.