How Does Social Media Affect Teenagers’ Mental Health?


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Teenagers have an insatiable appetite for social media. They can’t seem to have enough of it! Whether it’s scrolling through their Facebook feed, checking out new posts on Instagram, or watching videos on YouTube, teens love following trends. And one of the things they admire most is seeing all the amazing things their friends are doing. 

With the constantly increasing popularity of social media nowadays, it’s more important than ever for parents and teachers to be aware of its effects on kids. So if you’re wondering why your teenager is suddenly so obsessed with social media, read along.

Social Media Lives – It’s Not All Glittery

Flashy phones, cars, lavish trips, or a romantic proposal on the beach are a few things social media has made us believe everyone is doing. And if we’re not careful, we can start to feel like we’re living in a world where we’re constantly left behind. This “perfect” online life that teenagers see can cause a lot of anxiety and depression when they realize their own lives don’t quite measure up.

In addition, the majority of what people post on social media seems usually positive, which gives an unrealistically optimistic view into others’ lives. So when teens compare their behind-the-scenes with everyone’s highlight reel, it can be discouraging. This discouragement can lead to more significant problems like anxiety and depression. For this reason, aspiring counselors and health practitioners are taking up certifications and degrees like post master’s certificate in mental health counseling online. They attempt to understand better how social media can affect their teenage patients and protect them from the harm it can cause.

Adolescents believe what they see, especially from their social circle. And by accepting all the stardust-y posts on Instagram, they can develop a fear of being left out.

FOMO – The Fear of Missing Out:

The other thing that social media does is create FOMO or the fear of missing out. It is when people feel like they need to be doing something or else they’re missing out on the “fun.” Teens are especially prone to this because their brains are still developing, and they’re constantly looking for their place in the world. So, when they see all of their friends going out and having a good time, it can make them feel unwanted, lonely, and left out.

But, it’s not just the fear of missing out that can be harmful. The actual act of using social media also contributes to disturbed mental health.

The Negative Effects of Social Media:

There are a few different ways that social media can negatively affect teens.

Disrupted Focus:

First, when people constantly look at their phones or computer screens, it can be tough to focus on anything else. It is especially true for teens, who are already struggling with a lot of new information. So, when they’re constantly bombarded with images and messages on social media, it can be problematic for them to concentrate in school or during other activities.

Anxiety & Depression:

Social media can also lead to anxiety and depression. It is because people often compare themselves to others online, and they can start to feel:

  • They’re not good enough,
  • They need to have a particular lifestyle or look a certain way,
  • Their life is boring or not as attractive as other people’s lives.

They may also see pictures of people having fun without them, making them feel lonely and left out.

Sometimes teens also create an imaginary world of ‘all-things-good’ in their minds which they cannot live up to in the real world, and they struggle to live with the fact. Not getting enough likes on their ‘perfect’ picture or being unable to reply on time can cause stress, leading to depression.


Social media is becoming commonplace for cyberbullying. It is when someone bullies or harasses someone else online. It can involve sending mean messages, posting embarrassing pictures or videos, or spreading rumors about someone. Cyberbullying can be harmful, making people feel unsafe, scared, and alone.

Sleep Deprivation:

Another effect of social media on teenagers’ mental health is sleep deprivation. Teens are now spending more time on their phones and laptops than ever before, causing them to lose sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause problems such as:

  • Mood swings,
  • Irritability,
  • Decreased focus,
  • Poor academic performance,
  • Lack of physical activity.

Stalking or wanting to be stalked:

Another issue that can arise from too much social media use is stalking or wanting to be stalked. Stalking or wanting to be stalked is dangerous because it can quickly turn into an obsession, often leading to harassment or violence. After spending plenty of time on social media, individuals may begin to feel as if they need attention from others. It can lead them to search for people who will follow their every move online and make them feel important.

How Much Time is Enough:

Well, if you ask a teen, it’s never enough. But according to studies, American teens spend an average of nine hours a day using media. That’s more than 50 hours a week!

What Can Parents Do?

Since the addiction has already taken over most households, it is best to try and find a way to work with it instead of against it.

Set time limits on all devices in the house and ensure they are turned off during mealtimes, homework, and bedtime.

Discuss the dangers of social media and how it can affect mental health. Know when you can help and reach out to available online psychiatrist pennsylvania when needed and if your child doesn’t feel like going to a clinic.

Get your teen involved in extracurricular activities outside of school that will keep them busy and distracted from their phone screens.

Follow the ‘Grandma’s rule’ or the ‘first-do-this-to-do-that’ rule.

The Positive Effects:

It’s not all bad, though! Teens have also found ways to use social media for good. Teens, for example, are using social media to promote protests and marches, raise awareness of important topics, and interact with individuals who share their interests. Some teens even use social media to help them through tough times. They’ll post about their problems or struggles on Instagram or Twitter and get support from their friends online.


You can’t stop your teen from using social media, but you can help them use it safely and responsibly. It is essential to be available to talk to your teen about their experiences online. Make sure they know that you’re there for them, no matter what. It would be best to encourage your teen to participate in activities that don’t involve screens.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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Monica Parker
Monica Parker
2 years ago

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2 years ago

Another effect of social media on teenagers’ mental health is sleep deprivation. Teens are now spending more time on their phones and laptops than ever before, causing them to lose sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause problems such as:

2 years ago

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2 years ago

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It was obvious to many that Juul and the other vape companies were targeting children with their poison. Getting people to see the mental damage intentionally done by Facebook and Instagram is not as easy. People may not see it the same way as tobacco and vaping, but creating an addictive product for profit comes in many forms.

I really like being on the side of right when I represent a client. I enjoy taking on the bad guys. I am not a big fan of the tobacco/vaping industries and big pharma. I also hate what social media has done to our youth, and by social media I mean Facebook, Instagram, and the rest. In my opinion, Facebook and Instagram (“META”) knew they were damaging the minds of young and impressionable children and teens. META did not just ignore the damage they were doing but used it for their financial gain. META’S sophisticated algorithms were (and are) designed to encourage frequent access to their platforms and prolonged exposure to harmful content.

I’ve recently teamed up with a nationally recognized law firm to represent META’S victims. My two attorney firm is not the type to take on META by itself. As part of this team, I can help children, teens, and families who have been harmed by META.

If you or someone you know lives in California and has a child or teen that has become addicted to Facebook or Instagram, has attempted or committed suicide, committed acts of self-harm, developed eating disorders, or suffers from anxiety, depression, or insomnia, please give me a call to see if I can help get you financially compensated.

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