The Reality Of Social Media Use For Today’s Youth

There can be positive effects from teens using social media, from being able to connect with family and friends to being able to express themselves in an open format. But the reality of social media use for today's youth is generally not full of positives and can lead teens to engage in troubled behaviors.

Social Media And Growing Mental Health Issues In Teens

If you have noticed that your teen becomes depressed and/or more anxious after perusing through their social media feeds, you aren't just imagining things. Research has shown an alarming 70% spike in rates of depression and anxiety in teens, which has been linked to social media.

While this information may be surprising to parents who aren't heavy social media users, researchers explained that the carefully curated images (both actual images and words) presented on social media caused teens a high amount of anxiety and depression when the teens compared their regular lives with the cultivated lives displayed on social media. Even with intensive mental health treatment, one of the best things parents can do for anxious and depressed teens is to help their teens cut back on time spent on social media.

There have also been profoundly troubling stories which have highlighted how social media has been used to torment children and teens to the point where they take their own lives. Snapchat has been one of the particularly highlighted methods of harassment, as the proof of bullying disappears.

Risky Behaviors Promoted In Teens Via Social Media

Another study engaged in discovering how peer pressure and social media worked together. While scanning the neural responses of the teens' brain with a fMRI, the researchers uncovered a number of uncomfortable links between social media and a teen's neural response.

  • The area of the brain which promotes behavioral control was less active after teens viewed pictures of "risky" things such as someone holding marijuana, alcohol, provocatively dressed adolescents of both genders.
  • Teens are more likely to "like" an image if there are plenty of likes already, regardless of content, following along with the virtual peer pressure.
  • As the researchers included pictures from the participating teens' personal social media contributions, the researchers were able to observe the high activity response in the brain's reward center if a teen noticed that their image had many "likes."

A Parent's Role In Their Teen's Social Media Use

Parents have a tough line to walk when it comes to teens and social media usage. There is a constantly growing number of ways for teens to hide their social media from their parents, and when teens feel they have to hide from their parents, it makes it incredibly difficult to come to their parents when the teens run into trouble and need help.

Building bonds of trust with your teen and helping your teen naturally limit their time using social media by providing non-social media activities can be a couple of the best ways to help teens who have become sucked into the virtual social media world. Yet, for those parents who have tried their best and don't know what to do, Liahona Treatment Center is here to help troubled teen find their way back to the real world. Contact us today to learn more about our program and if it is a good fit for your teenage son.

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