The Impact of Social Media on the Mental Health of Adolescents

Teenagers are increasingly using social media, despite growing concerns about its negative effects on their mental health. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that a majority of teenagers describe their social media usage as “almost constant.” While the usage of social media platforms and apps among teenagers has remained stable between 2022 and 2023, the percentage of teenagers using TikTok has not changed significantly.

The dual nature of social media for teenagers was highlighted by Linda Charmaraman, a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Center for Women. On one hand, social media can provide fun, excitement, and a sense of connection and acceptance. On the other hand, it can lead to negative emotions like fear of missing out (FOMO) and exposure to cyberbullying and rumors.

Teenagers often seek guidance from their close contacts, such as cousins, aunts, and uncles, to help them navigate the digital space and protect themselves online. Charmaraman emphasized that social media usage has both benefits and drawbacks for people of all ages, but the experience can vary based on maturity levels and friend groups. While many studies have explored the relationship between social media and mental health in older youth like college students, Charmaraman pointed out that these studies often overlooked the unique challenges faced by teenagers and tweens who are at different stages of cognitive development. This makes the impact of social media on teenagers more significant and complex.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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