Social media has become a staple in the lives of many teenagers. It's a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it can also be a breeding ground for negative thoughts and emotions. For teens who are already struggling with depression, social media can be a trigger for exacerbating symptoms. As a parent, it's important to be aware of the signs that your child may be struggling with depression and the role social media may play. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between social media and depression in teens, as well as tips for helping your child during this time.
How Does Social Media Contribute to Teenage Depression?
Is there a correlation between social media and depression? To answer this, let’s look at the results of a 2022 survey regarding the impact of social media on 1,500 Gen Z respondents (16-24-year-olds).
- 85% of respondents reported that social media negatively affects their self-esteem
- 85% reported that social media negatively affects their self-image
- 83% reported an increase in anxiety due to social media
- 81% reported an increase in loneliness due to social media
- 79% reported an increase in depression due to social media
These statistics on social media and mental health point to an increasing problem among the younger generations. With most social media platforms prioritizing likes and comments, those who don’t receive positive affirmation on the platform experience low self-esteem, unhappiness, and depression.
But that’s not the only correlation between social media and depression in teens. Other issues, like lack of sleep due to time spent on social media and exposure to bullying, peer pressure, and unrealistic body and lifestyle expectations, make adolescents more susceptible to mental health problems.
Is Social Media Messing with Your Teen's Mental Health? 7 Red Flags
Knowing common signs and symptoms of depression in teens is essential. If you’re concerned about the impact of social media on your child’s mental health, here are some “red flags” to look out for.
- They're spending more time on their devices than ever before.
- They're withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy.
- They're more irritable and prone to outbursts of anger.
- They're having difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks.
- They're experiencing changes in their eating or sleeping habits.
- They're using social media to escape from their problems.
- They're showing signs of depression or anxiety.
If you suspect your child may be depressed, take the time to talk to them. Ask about their social media usage and whether they're experiencing any adverse effects from it. If necessary, reach out to a professional for help getting your child the treatment they need. Social media can be a great tool, but it's important to use it in moderation and be aware of the potential risks.
4 Tips for Parents with Social-Media-Obsessed Teenagers
Regardless of the correlation between social media and depression in teens, social platforms aren’t going anywhere. If anything, they will continue to increase, offering new ways for your child to engage online. However, there are some things you can do to navigate this landscape and help prevent or reduce the negative impact of social media on your child’s mental health.
1. Learn About the Social Media Platforms Your Teen is Using
It’s important to know where your teen is spending time online. There are tons of social media platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. By familiarizing yourself with the platforms, you’ll understand how they work and the type of content your child is consuming.
2. Set Social Media Ground Rules
Talk to your teen about ground rules for social media use and try to come to an agreement you both feel good about. For example, you might agree on a usage time limit that minimizes nighttime social media use. Or you might decide on the type of content your teen can share, ensuring to protect their privacy online.
3. Be a Good Role Model
If you're constantly checking your phone or posting photos online, your teenager will likely follow suit. Practice moderation with your social media use, and follow your own social media ground rules. While there is a strong correlation between social media and depression in teens, social media and mental health impact people of all ages.
4. Talk to Your Teen About Social Media and Depression
Don't be afraid to have open and honest conversations about social media use with your teenager. This can help them understand your concerns and make more informed choices about how they interact online. Ask your child about any negative feelings they might be experiencing, and keep an eye out for the red flags mentioned above.
Is Your Teen Struggling with Social Media Obsession and Depression?
If your teen is spending an excessive amount of time on social media and exhibiting signs of depression, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. Depression is a severe medical condition that can have a negative impact on every aspect of a person's life. If your teen is struggling with depression, they may turn to social media to escape their problems or become fixated on social media to find validation and acceptance from others, which can exacerbate the problem.
If you're concerned about your teen's mental health, don't hesitate to reach out to a therapist for help. Depending on the severity of your teen's mental health issues, there are many programs for teenagers suffering from depression, from short-term wilderness therapy experiences to residential programs or if you have questions hire a consultant. Early intervention can make a big difference in the long run.
About the Author
Jenney Wilder, M.S.Ed launched All Kinds of Therapy in 2015, as the only independent online directory for the Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Industry. With an impressive case of ADHD and her starter career in the 90's in Silicon Valley, the dream for creating a website with features like side-by-side comparison and an integrated newsletter was born. Jenney stopped counting treatment centers and all types of schools that she has visited when she hit 500 many years ago.