Adolescence is the time when most people experience a wide range of problems, from bullying and low self-esteem to poor academic results and depression. Nowadays, most of these problems are widely connected with extensive social media use. It is vitally important to discuss and analyze these issues to raise awareness about the problems among adults and teenagers themselves. The current essay aims to address those issues associated with adolescence period and social media networks. The paper consists of several parts and approaches the following topics: internet use and poor social skills, cyberbullying, depression, low self-esteem, and negative effect on well-being, harmful and inappropriate content, and risky online behaviors.
To begin with, it is vitally important to clarify what is meant by teenagers or adolescence. According to Allen, “Adolescence is the period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It includes some big changes – to the body, and to the way a young person relates to the world.” The problems associated with the transition time from a child to an adult are the subject of the present study. In addition, a definition of social media should be offered. According to Merriam-Webster, social media are “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).” The abovementioned definition is used in the current essay to understand what social media is.
Internet Use and Poor Social Skills
One of the main issues is the excessive use of social media and Internet addiction, which is nowadays widespread among teenagers. As Ehmke states, adolescence is an important period in terms of being concerned with the great use of smartphones. First of all, social interaction via a smartphone does not improve social skills and, on the contrary, harms it. Teenagers do not communicate in person, understanding body language and other non-verbal means but instead looking into the screens. Another issue connected with it is that face-to-face communication is a vital part of learning to make friendships and taking risks associated with it. Social media help to avoid accepting the responsibility for one’s words and actions and, thus, an essential skill of forming connections cannot be formed adequately. As a consequence, people might experience failed romantic and friendship relations, as well as issues with employment. Parental responsibility is to help their child to build social connections in real life by limiting time spent on social media.
Social Media and Cyberbullying
Another danger for teenagers in social media that is continuously addressed by scholars is cyberbullying, which is nowadays highly common in the digital world. Bullying exists in real life too, but the Internet opens up new horizons for such actions: social media raised plenty of opportunities. It is essential to understand the possible consequences of cyberbullying, as they are serious and sometimes even fatal. According to O’Keeffee et al. (801), being a victim of online bullying causes different kinds of psychological issues: anxiety, severe isolation, depression, and even suicide. Besides, experts highlight that cyberbullying tends to occur more often among teenage girls than boys; thus their parents need to be more attentive (Ehmke). As can be seen, discussed above, cyberbullying is common nowadays, and as a result, almost any adolescent is at risk of becoming a victim. At that age, parents need to be especially careful and attentive to detect any changes in teenage behavior to provide help.
Social Media and Depression
Scholars tend to agree that there is a link between excessive time in social media regularly and depression. Teenagers who spent more time in online social interaction reported depression more often than those peers whose digital time was restricted (Miller). One of the explanations can be that such online relationships cannot be satisfying and lead to loneliness, and turn into depression. Another possible reason is the ongoing comparison of oneself with others: teenagers compare themselves at school, and the whole day after that on their phones. Obviously, it is overwhelming at this age and can lead to anxiety, and as a result, depression. The consequences of depression include the following: lower academic progress, tiredness, anxiety, apathy, and even suicide. Thus, to avoid these dangerous scenarios, parents need to control the time their children spend interacting on social media.
Social Media, Low Self-Esteem and Negative Effect on Well-Being
Another problem associated with the overuse of social media by teenagers is low self-esteem and its negative effect on their well-being. Researchers agree that excessive social media use lowers adolescences’ self-esteem. This statement was proved in the study carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health. They surveyed 14-24-year-old people and asked them to evaluate how social media affect their mental state and well-being. The results demonstrated that the teenagers reported anxiety, poor body image and loneliness, and associated it with digital media use (Ehmke). As was stated above, it is vitally important that parents restrict adolescents’ time on social media to protect their psychological well-being and self-esteem.
Social Media and Harmful and Inappropriate Content
Harmful and inappropriate content on social media is another possible danger for teenagers. Social media websites try to prohibit this kind of content, however, it is still a significant issue on the Internet. Inappropriate photos, videos, or texts might cause psychological trauma or encourage teenagers to get involved in producing this content themselves. There are many cases when young people send inappropriate texts or pictures and are subject to blackmail. In some cases, teenagers end up committing suicide because of the humiliation they experience. Thus, it appears to be evident that the not yet stable psyche of an adolescent is not prepared for inappropriate content. Consequently, parents need to control what information their children receive on the Internet (probably using a parental control program).
Social Media and Risky Online Behavior
Adolescence is the period of a person’s development when it is important to show and prove oneself to others. Internet is an especially dangerous platform, as it involves a vast audience that motivates teenagers to exhibit risky online behaviors to impress their peers. Such behavior is often detrimental to health, because teenagers use alcohol, drugs, as well as do self-harm and demonstrate high-risk sexual behavior. It is clear that this behavior and its consequences can be avoided if parents pay more attention to their children’s everyday lives and problems.
In conclusion, it is vital to highlight that even though the Internet is regarded as the result of technological progress, its harmful effect on adolescents is often ignored. The risks and possible consequences need to be studied further, and measures must be taken at different levels: parental, school, and governmental. In the current essay, possible outcomes of the excessive use of social media were addressed and analyzed. Parental actions are something that can be done today to avoid cyberbullying, depression, risky online behavior, exhibiting inappropriate content, and other issues associated with social media websites.
Allen, Brittany. “Stages of Adolescence”, Healthy Children.org, 2019.
Ehmke, Rachel. “How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers”, Child Mind Institute.
Miller, Caroline. “Does Social Media Cause Depression?”, Child Mind Institut.
O’Keeffee et al. “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families”, Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011.
Merriam-Webster. Social Media. 2020.