Social media has dramatically changed the way we communicate and has many benefits. We have access to unlimited information, we can communicate almost immediately with people from all over the world and we can share other information that matters to us.
Social media is also a powerful tool to motivate people to take action and make social changes. It provides a platform for young people to be heard, allowing them to express themselves on issues that concern them. The online world has the potential to help young people explore new concepts, manage risk and build resilience. However, as social media has evolved very rapidly and has a profound impact on social fiber and interpersonal relationships, it is important to explore the potential effects on young people’s emotional and mental health through alternative apps to social networks.
An overview of the research generally indicates the main factors 3 explaining why the overuse of social media can have a negative impact on the mental health of young people:
1. Impact on sleep
Intensive use can have a negative impact on physical well-being, which can also affect mental health. This is particularly relevant when it comes to disrupting sleep. Several studies have linked sleep difficulties to the time spent in front of a screen.
Whether it is the blue light of screens affecting the quality and quantity of sleep or the behavioral disturbances that cause young people to wake up to check their sleep reduction over the phone, it is an important problem in terms of Mental Health. Sleep is crucial for the developing adolescent brain, and lack of sleep is associated with low mood and depression.
2. Use as a life comparison tool
While social media was originally set up as a means of connecting with others, it is now also used as a means of comparison. It has become a barometer of the extent to which we compare ourselves to others and it is a particular problem for young people who are socialized through the school system to “score” against their peers.
3. Chase tastes in place to boost self-esteem
If I wanted to design a “reflection” exercise with low self-esteem, I would ask someone to take dozens of photos, edit them, post them for others to evaluate, and then ‘they do not get enough validation through likes, comments or resumptions, start again at zero. This increased awareness and management of social media engagement impressions are, in my opinion, the third area that affects mental health.
Being too active on social media and worrying about regularly posting photos and status updates have been linked to anxiety, poor body image and weakened mental health. The constant search for the approval of others and the search for external validation mean that young people do not develop a sense of self-worth that does not depend on arbitrary value conditions.
Discuss with children the pros and cons of social media
Thus, while there are many benefits to social media, it is important for parents to discuss with their children the importance of using them in a healthier way. We need to discuss the impact of getting approval from an online world that does not really know them or comparing their lives to the edited versions of the lives they see online.
We need to talk about the potential effects on sleep and, therefore, health, of health, and thus help them make more informed choices about the timing of the “night”. Ultimately, we need to remind them that social media is not the only way to be social and encourage more face-to-face interactions and relationships, reminding them not to let online engagement hinder good mental health and well-being.