The latest research by psychologist Jean Twenge shows that many American teen girls spend more time using social media sites than sleeping or attending school. Twenge is a researcher at San Diego State University who studies generational trends. For more than 10 years, she has tracked mental health metrics in teens and warned about a potential mental crisis.
In her book, she explains how depression, loneliness, and anxiety are on the increase. The Generations The social media continues to be a factor. Twenge told NPR in a recent interview that the time spent using social media increased dramatically after 2009. This coincided with smartphones becoming increasingly popular.
She is also in agreement with the findings of a Pew Research poll that showed by 2017 85% of teenagers used social media every day. By last year 95% were using it, and one third said they use them almost constantly.
Other experts have warned that if this unrestricted access to social networks is not checked, it could become a problem.
Leilani CARVER, associate professor and director of Graduate and Undergraduate Communication at Maryville University, said that a large portion of the current generation will likely face a mental health crisis in the near future due to their high use of social media.
It is possible that the crisis has already arrived.
Carver continued, “In 2022 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data found that 60 percent of 9th-12th-grade girls experienced depression symptoms during the previous year.” “Nearly one in three teenage girls reported seriously considering suicide in the past year – a 60% increase from ten years ago.”
The issue here is that teens are often in a period of exploration and self-discovery. Social media use can disrupt this natural process of discovery and comparison.
Constantly looking at social media can send negative messages to a teenager’s mind. This includes the comments and number of followers, likes, or other metrics. The messages can cause teens to adopt harmful behaviors and have a false sense of their own value. This leads to lowered self-esteem.
It is hard to prove that social media use by teenage girls has a direct correlation with their mental health problems. There are many factors involved.
Carver stated that “the data are conflicting as to the extent of social media’s impact on student learning and academic performance.”
Carver advised parents to look for more ways to be engaged with their teens. This includes finding out how to build a connection with them, and helping them to develop their own sense of mission. A second way to combat the excessive use of social networks by young users would be to give teens a variety of opportunities to participate in things they are interested in.
Carver said that the challenge was to find ways for teens to associate their passions with activities which will allow them improve and develop skills.
There’s Good and Bad about Social Media
The same could be said for the assumption that social media does not have any positive effects, which is far from being the truth.
Gary said that social media, when used in moderation, can increase communication and enjoyment.
Carver stated that “teens reported feeling accepted by social media because it allows them to feel closer to their friends, shows their creativity and provides them with support in difficult times.”
Social media is not a one-size fits all approach.
It’s all about knowing yourself and finding the right balance. Stacie Pettit, Associate Professor of Teacher Education and Social Media at Augusta University suggests that social media can have a negative impact on learning if students are spending too much time using devices. They may also neglect to study and get enough sleep.
Most teens do not need to have their device on 24/7. Instead, experts suggest setting limits to help adolescents get enough sleep and study.
Social media can have positive impacts, including social connection and creative expression. Students need to develop skills for coping with temptations such as too much screen time, said Pettit.
In many respects, the smartphone just replaces the telephone to which many teenagers may have felt tethered in the 1970s or 80s. Now, social media has become a part of our daily lives.
Carver added, “These young women will learn who they are in the long run, their values, their friendships, and even who they love through screens.” Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is message” long before Tik Tok was a thing.