WARNING: Consume Responsibly
Let’s face it…we’re in the age of social media. If you’re reading this as the parent of a teen, chances are this is very different from how you grew up. Nowadays, 90 percent of adolescents between ages 13 and 17 use at least one type of social media.
So it seems the question is: What are the effects of social media on younger generations?
When it comes to social media, it’s a double-edged sword. During the peak of COVID-19, social connection was needed, and social media provided it to many of us. It keeps us in near-instant contact with our friends, family, organizations, etc. Social media is also able to reach millions of people with the click of a button; this is POWERFUL in sharing health information, mental health awareness, and current events.
Along with these benefits there are, as we know, some definite drawbacks. When it comes to children and adolescents, there is an undeniable risk of online predators and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has seen an increase with the rise of social media; this is a problem because there is no break from cyberbullying … it goes with you everywhere your smartphone goes.
Specifically for those developing self awareness, social media can be problematic. For example, comparing ourselves to others is normal, but on social media with filters and editing tools, we’re comparing ourselves to unrealistic images of others during a snapshot of their life. In addition, most of these platforms include likes, which provides positive reinforcement and validation to those posting. This may lead to someone basing their worth on those views and likes.
Finally, even when consuming news and health-related information on social media, it is important to recognize that not all information is accurate, reliable, or applicable to you, and not everyone providing it is qualified to do so.
KEEP IN MIND: Tips for Parents and Users
- Set privacy controls.
- Turn off location data for social media apps.
- Understand that most platforms leave a permanent record.
- Disable push notifications.
- Limit the amount of time you spend on social media.
- Take a break when you’re experiencing intense emotions.
- Social media is not therapy; therapy is therapy. Do not use what you see on TikTok or Instagram to diagnose yourself.
About the Author: Jessica Marcacci is a therapist at River Wards Wellness Collective in Philadelphia specializing in relationship issues, life stressors, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Huntsman Mental Health Institute. (2023, January 20). Tips for healthy social media use: for parents and teens.
Mann, R. B., & Blumberg, F. (2022). Adolescents and social media: The effects of frequency of use, self-presentation, social comparison, and self esteem on possible self imagery. Acta psychologica, 228, 103629.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, November 5). What is cyberbullying.