Social Media and Its Effect on Children’s Mental Health

Updated on May 11, 2018
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Yvonne Kanu is an editor and content writer with over 9 years of experience in publishing, public relations and technical communication.

A research study conducted in 2016 by a team of economists at the University of Sheffield has shown that the more teenagers engage in social networking, the less happy they feel about themselves and a variety of other things. Social networking has greatly affected childhood over the last decade, and according to research, it’s bound to get much worse in the decades to come if not moderated.

Another survey by Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) reports Instagram and Snapchat networking apps to be two of the worst apps for teenagers in today’s era. It reports that social media is more addictive than liquor or cigarettes, and has become very much a part of the lives of teens and pre-teens. These social networking apps are viewed as the worst because it burdens these young minds with worry and anxiety about body image and appearances. There is also the commonly known feeling among networkers known as FOMO – Fear of Missing out. The survey showed a high volume of FOMO tendencies among Instagram and Snapchat users, which results in lack of sleep and constant worry about looks.

Children aged 12-15 years now spend more time online than watching TV, ensnared by FOMO and the need to belong. This has caused a surge in the number of children admitted to hospitals from self-inflicted injuries as a result of anxiety or depression because they’ve been made to feel inadequate and abnormal due to their physical appearance or social ineptness. There is also the issue of sexting and cyberbullying as a result of these kinds of exposure, a problem that’s still ongoing and ever increasing.

Excessive social networking in teens also tends to leave them with little to no room to engage in other social or educational activities meant to stimulate the brain and make them more physically engaging and active. They seem to be more interactive and willing to share confidential information about themselves with strangers online with whom they have something in common, than with a school mate or teacher/guidance counselor.

Social media has its positive sides, one of which is it being a global platform where anyone from anywhere in the world can share information, promote causes, or promote a call to action, all within the blink of an eye. However, with the above analysis and observation on what its excessive usage is doing to young minds, what is the hope of today’s generation and their craze with social media? Will it get better, or is it bound to get worse?

Food for thought.

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