Social media has become an integral part of everyday human life. Undoubtedly, social media contribute to alleviating communication and information searching. However, besides the positive aspects of the widespread social networking sites, dangerous psychological implications can cause severe mental problems. Children and teenagers are at the greatest danger of developing mental illnesses because of social media. As far as teenagers’ mental state is in active development, their world perception forms based on the surrounding atmosphere. As a result, they are highly exposed to the negative effect of social networking sites causing heightened suggestibility. Thus, social media have an adverse impact on young people in developing such psychological deviations as paranoia, fear of missed out syndrome, depression, and narcissism.
The first problem caused by the active usage of social networking sites is paranoia. Children learn that all their actions should be estimated from the yearly years of using online services and social media. As a result, children compare their own lives with others. Such a situation can negatively affect the process of self-identification of the young people because they only try to do what the community will positively reply to (Degutis et al. 904). The essential for our society concept of identity becomes irrelevant for young children. Striving for everyone’s approval through likes, children can develop paranoia (Degutis et al. 904). Such a symptom of paranoia as being afraid of evaluations can cause severe self-esteem problems in teenagers’ unstable minds. Social network users are not always honest: they rarely talk about their real lives. Often people create ideal digital versions of themselves for other people to see. As a result, children may form an inadequate image of success and happiness. This misleading perspective will eventually lead to constant paranoia and other dangerous problems.
One of them is the fear of missed out syndrome. The inadequate image about the success caused by the fake beauty shown in the accounts of celebrities and bloggers can lead to the occurrence of this syndrome. It is usually correlated with the occurrence in children’s minds the obsessive thoughts that the lives of others are more exciting and fulfilling than their own. This syndrome increases depression and anxiety causing the dependence on social media, which, in turn, can negatively affect children’s school performance and relationships with family and friends. It is an obsessive fear of missing something, such as an event or opportunity (Hope et al. 730). Experiencing this syndrome, people usually feel that they are wasting their lives. The victims of this syndrome have a feeling of severe discomfort when a smartphone is not at hand, a desire to constantly update social media feeds, be available for communication all the time, be continuously liked by people, and receive approval (Hope et al. 730). This problem is hazardous for young people because it prevents the normal socialization (Hope et al. 732). Moreover, later, in their adolescence, teenagers can experience more dangerous mental issues because of life dissatisfaction.
For example, depression can be the result of the developed fear of missed out syndrome. One of the significant differences in the lives of today’s adolescents and young people compared to previous generations is that they communicate less with their peers in person, preferring to contact others through social networks sites. Some experts consider the rise in depression rates among teenagers as evidence that the connections through social media are less emotionally intense and fragile, making people feel socially isolated (Grealish et al. 83). Psychologists emphasize that the less deeply and empathically teenagers connect with people, the less enjoyment they get from social interaction (Grealish et al. 84). The communication becomes superficial, preventing the development of normal relationships.
All social networking sites are based on reading and posting their information. Community members constantly observe each other and carefully build their image on the internet. The social measures are the number of likes for the photo, the profile’s popularity, and the number of friends. People constantly exchange information and see themselves through the prism of someone else’s opinion. As a result, they are forced to adjust their behavior to the audience’s needs. In addition, users want not only to observe other people but also to be noticed from their side. Therefore, precise control over how people need to edit a digital copy of themselves on a social network is included in order to achieve the desired feedback from the audience.
Teenagers, being in the stage of personality forming, will copy the example they see on the internet. There are no clear instructions on what to do to get noticed and not condemned by the audience. Thus, children will be forced to monitor other people’s content constantly to suit the community’s requirements. Observing others, analyzing, and adjusting to social norms become an integral part of social life on the internet. Teenagers cannot form their personalities properly because they only try to modify themselves. They are forced to constantly evaluate themselves through the opinion of other people to meet their expectations (Grealish et al. 90). Thus, teenagers are exposed to social tension through social networking sites even during childhood. Being in such a condition can cause the symptoms of depression.
Another problem is the development of narcissism in the children’s personalities. One of the issues in social networks is that people’s personality is presented only partially and not in its entirety. Social networking sites users strive to show only the positive side of life and leave all the unpleasant aspects outside their personal profiles. This is an embellished picture, which cannot be compared with the real situation. In fact, people’s complex personalities cannot be represented on any social network. People stop seeing the complexity of human psychology and nature. Children form only superficial positive attitudes towards themselves and other people (Campbell et al., 320). As a result, narcissism develops because people unconsciously eliminate all the negative aspects of their lives to fit into the community. It is challenging for children to find the sphere of interests or calling to be successful and happy in such conditions.
Therefore, social media have many adverse effects on young people’s psychological development. The children are highly exposed to the mental tension in social media. This issue should be developed scientifically and addressed by researchers to develop efficient strategies to prevent the mental deterioration of society. Today, it is impossible to limit children’s social networking sites because this diminishes their socialization process. However, the particular measures to direct the new generation on the right life path should be implemented. The role of psychological consultation is increased today, not only for adults but for children, because of the tense impact of social media.
Campbell, Jessica, et al. “Narcissism and Social Media Use: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture, vol. 7, no. 3, 2018, pp. 308–327. Web.
Degutis, Mindaugas, et al. “Social Media Use and Paranoia: Factors That Matter in Online Shopping.” Sustainability, vol. 12, no. 3, 2020, pp. 904–906. Web.
Grealish, Annmarie, et al. “A Systematic Review: The Influence of Social Media On Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress in Adolescents.” International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 2019, pp. 79–93. Web.
Hope, Nora, et al. “Fear of Missing Out: Prevalence, Dynamics, And Consequences of Experiencing FOMO.” Motivation and Emotion, vol. 43, 2018, pp. 725–737. Web.