Social media is one of the most significant developments in human history. It has transformed our lives, and it offers opportunities for connection and community that we did not have before. But research suggests that social media can also have negative effects on our mental health — especially among young people. Understanding these risks and how they might impact you personally is crucial to using these platforms without damaging your well-being.
Teens spend more than 7 hours a day on their devices
While the average teen spends 7 hours per day on their devices, this amount of time is actually a lot less than it was ten years ago. Back in 2005, teens spent 8 hours per day on their devices—and that’s not even including homework!
We all know excessive amounts of screentime can be toxic for children, and even adults. The more time spent on digital devices, the more likely you are to feel depressed or anxious. This can be explained by two factors: one, people who spend a lot of time on social media tend to have lower self-esteem and feel socially isolated; two, spending too much time online can cause stress levels to rise as you worry about how you’re perceived by others.
Since smartphones became popular among teens in 2001-2012, rates of depression and suicide have been increasing drastically. According to studies, comparing rates from 2007 to 2017, teen girls’ depression increased to 66% and boys 44%. Suicide rates have also had an alarming spike, 46% more of teens ages 15-19 committed suicide in 2015 compared to 2007.
Social media can affect brain chemistry in a negative way
Social media can affect your brain chemistry in a negative way. Several studies have shown that the constant stream of information and images can lead to anxiety, depression, and poor sleep quality.
Some people may also become isolated from their real-world relationships as they spend more time online interacting with strangers through social media than with family or friends who are physically present in their lives. This can cause feelings of loneliness, isolation and even depression if it becomes a regular pattern.
Young girls are more likely to be negatively affected by social media use than young boys
While social media can be a positive experience for young people, it also has the potential to negatively affect users’ mental health. In particular, girls are more likely than boys to report negative effects from their use of social media.
The results of this study suggest that there is an association between social media use and the risk of depression among adolescents in general, but especially among girls. Girls who use multiple types of social media platforms seem particularly vulnerable to developing depression symptoms.
Understanding how social media affects your mental health is key to using it without damaging your well-being
Social media can be a great tool for helping you connect with friends, but it can also be problematic if you’re not careful. It’s important to know how much time you spend on social media and how that affects your mental health.
If you notice yourself feeling depressed or anxious after spending hours scrolling through social media, then it may be time to re-evaluate how much time is spent on the platforms. To help balance the use of digital devices with all other aspects of daily life, here are some tips:
- Use a timer when surfing the internet; this will help keep track of things like checking emails or texting friends
- Only check email once every hour or so rather than constantly throughout the day
- Have designated times during which family members will be allowed online (e.g., dinner time)
Netsweeper helps improve students’ mental health
Netsweeper’s nFilter is the industry’s most comprehensive database of harmful content based on over 20 years of web indexing. Leveraging our patented Al technology, we provide true real-time analysis, filtering, and blocking of online content to keep students safe 24/7. Built for cloud or on-premise deployment, we help technology teams create a customized solution using either network or client technology, or a combination of both, designed to easily scale as demand requires.
While social media is a great tool for staying connected with friends and family, we don’t want to ignore the negative effects it can have on your mental health. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, try limiting your time spent online or setting boundaries around when you use social media.