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5 ways in which social networks affect the mental health of adolescents

5 ways in which social networks affect the mental health of adolescents

It should come as no surprise that the pressure to be available 24/7 on social media is a very real challenge for today’s teens. Besides that understanding and social media addiction far exceeds that of many adults, they also use social networks at a much higher rate.

In fact, a Common Sense Media report found that 75% of American teens have profiles on social networks. Social media is an everyday part of life for the vast majority of teenagers.

A Common Sense report found:

  • 51% of teenagers visit social networking sites every day.
  • More than a third of teenagers visit their main social networking site several times a day.
  • 1 in 4 teenagers is an intense user of social networks, using at least two different types of social networks every day.

Teenager’s brain and social networks

For many teenagers, social networks can become almost addictive. In a study by researchers at UCLA Brain Mapping Center , found that certain regions of the teenager’s brain were activated by «likes» on social networks, sometimes making them want to use more social networks.

During study , the researchers used a functional MRI scanner to imagine the brains of 32 teenagers while using a fictitious social media application that resembles Instagram. The teenagers were shown over 140 images in which it was believed that the «likes» came from their colleagues. However, the likes were assigned by the research team.

As a result, brain scans revealed that, in addition to different regions, the nucleus accumbens, part of the brain’s reward circuits, was active especially when they saw a large number of appreciations in their own photographs. According to researchers, this area of ​​the brain is the same region that responds when we see images with people we love or when we earn money.

Researchers say that this reward region of the brain is particularly sensitive during adolescence, which could explain why teenagers are so attracted to social media.

Elsewhere in the study, researchers were able to see a correlation between social media and the influence of colleagues . Study participants were shown neutral and risky photos. What they found is that the type of image had no impact on the number of appreciations that the adolescents in the study gave.

Instead, they probably «like» popular photos, no matter what they display. Researchers believe that this behavior shows that colleagues can have both a positive and a negative influence on others while using social networks.

Mental health

Undoubtedly, social media plays a vital role in expanding adolescents’ social connections and helping them learn valuable technical skills. But what impact do all these social networks have on the minds of teenagers? Most reports indicate that the impact may be significant.

Not only are the brains of developing teens vulnerable for so long online, but because it is often difficult for them to self-regulate their screen time, their risks can increase. In addition, they are more susceptible to peer pressure, cyberbullying and sexting, all activities involving digital communication, which makes browsing the online social world sometimes treacherous.

There are a number of health problems that develop as a result of spending too much time online.

Here is an overview of mental health issues more frequently than Teenagers can experiment due to excessive use of social networks.


Researchers are beginning to make a connection between depression and social media. Although they did not actually find a cause-and-effect relationship between social media and depression, they found that social media use may be associated with an increase in depressive symptoms, including decreased social activity and increased loneliness.

For example, a study published in Computers in human behavior found that using more social networking sites is more strongly associated with depression than spending time online. According to the study, people who used more than seven social platforms had more than three times risk of depression than people who use two or fewer sites.

Several additional studies have shown that prolonged use of social media may be linked to signs and symptoms of depression, as well as low Self-esteem , especially in children.


Adolescents often feel emotionally involved in them social media accounts . Not only do I feel the pressure to respond quickly online, but I also feel the pressure to have perfect photos and well-written posts, all of which can cause a lot of anxiety. In fact, some studies have found that the larger the social circle of a teenager online, the more anxiety they feel about everything online.

It takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with the unspoken rules and culture of each social platform. As a result, this puts extra pressure on teenagers, which can lead to feelings of anxiety.

Also, if teenagers take the wrong step online, it can also be an extreme source of anxiety. Many teenagers, especially girls, tend to worry about what others might think of them and how they will respond when they see them again. Then consider cyberbullying, shame whore and other cruel behaviors online and you can see why social media is a very real source of anxiety for many teenagers.

Sleep deprivation

Sometimes teenagers spend so many hours on social networks that they begin to lose valuable sleep. Consequently, this loss of sleep can lead to mood swings, decreased grades and overeating, as well as exacerbation of existing problems such as depression, anxiety and ADD.

Actually, a British study published in Journal of Youth Studies surveyed 900 adolescents aged 12 to 15 about the use of social networks and its impact on sleep. What they found was that one-fifth of teenagers said they «almost always» wake up at night and connect to social media.

The study also found that girls were much more likely than boys to wake up and check social media on their phones. In addition to reporting fatigue all the time, they also reported being less happy on average than teens whose sleep was not disturbed by social media.

Teenagers also need more sleep than adults, so connecting to social media in the middle of the night can also be detrimental to their physical health.

For example, in addition to feeling tired and irritable, Lack of sleep It can weaken the immune system and increase a teenager’s chances of getting sick.


Jealousy and envy Although they are normal emotions, they can wreak havoc on teenagers’ brains if they focus on what someone else has owned or experienced and what they themselves do not have. And because people tend to post only the positive things they experience or have fun with the bad things with funny little anecdotes, it may seem to the reader that other people lead a more interesting life than they do.

Unfortunately, what teenagers often don’t realize is that people tend to only post their «recommended roles» on social networks and often keep banal or difficult experiences offline. As a result, someone else’s life may seem perfect online, but offline they fight like everyone else.

However, it is easy for a teenager to play the comparison game and begin to believe that everyone is happier or better than them. As a result, this can lead to depression, loneliness, anger and a variety of other problems.

Moreover, envy, if left untreated, often leads to bullying and petty behavior. In fact, many bad girls I know I lead others because they are jealous of the target’s clothes, boyfriend, successes or anything else.

Communication problems

While social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, it’s not the same as face-to-face communication. For example, a teenager cannot see a person’s facial expressions or hear their tone of voice online. As a result, misunderstandings are very easy, especially when people try to be funny or sarcastic online.

Many teenagers spend so much time online checking their moods and I like that they forget to interact with the people in front of them. For this reason, friends and love relationships can be affected when social media is central to a person’s life. As a result, teenagers are at risk of having relationships that are not deep or authentic.

Teenagers who prioritize social media often focus on the photos they take, which show how much fun they have rather than focus on fun. The end result is that your friends suffer.

A word from Verywell

Because much of the brain development takes place during adolescence, it is important for parents to understand the impact that using social media can have on their children. For this reason, it is important to establish guidelines for the use of social networks .

It is also important for families to have regular discussions about how to use socially responsibly and safely. When families surf together through social media, a teenager’s online world becomes much easier to manage.