#Youth Forum

Effects of social media on youth 

Jun 6, 2023, 12:02 PM

How do social media affect youth? Like any form of technology, social media has both an upside and a downside.

And when it comes to the social media effects on teens, there are significant pros and cons to take into account.


On the plus side, platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Snap chat can be lifesavers for teens who feel isolated or marginalised, particularly LGBTQ teens.

In addition, social media helps teens feel more connected and not as lonely during the pandemic.

But the impact of social media on youth can also be significantly detrimental to mental health. In particular, social media and teen depression are closely linked.

Furthermore, overuse of the apps exposes teens to cyber bullying, body image issues, and tech addiction, and results in less time spent doing healthy, real-world activities.

And while the majority of parents believe they know what their child is posting on social media, according to a Pew Research poll, a survey of teens found that 70 per cent of them are hiding their online behaviour from their parents.

Are teens and social media platforms a good mix, or does social media use lower teen well-being? Why is social media bad?

This has become one of the more controversial questions regarding social media’s effects on teens, with studies showing varied results.

According to a recent report released by Common Sense Media on social media’s effects on teens, about half of the 1,500 young people surveyed said social media is very important for them in order to get support and advice, feel less alone, and express themselves creatively, as well as for staying in touch with friends and family members.

And 43 per cent said that using social media makes them feel better when they are depressed, stressed, or anxious.

Among LGBTQ youth, 52 per cent said social media helps them feel better when they are experiencing these difficult emotions.

On the other hand, the report also showed a strong association between social media and teens feeling depressed.

Youth with moderate to severe depressive symptoms were nearly twice as likely to say they used social media almost constantly.

One-third of teens with depression reported constant social media use, as compared to 18 per cent of young people who did not have depressive symptoms.

Furthermore, the more severe their symptoms were, the more anxious, lonely and depressed they felt after using social media.

Clearly, social media does not help teens who are already feeling depressed and seems to contribute to their negative outlook.

Is social media part of the reason that teen depression has drastically increased over the last decade?

Surveys of US adolescents show that teen depressive symptoms and suicide rates showed marked increases between 2010 and 2015, especially among females.

Some researchers theorize that the increase in social media and overall screen use between those years could account for these changes.

The adolescents surveyed who spent more time on social media sites were more likely to report mental health issues.

Those who spent more time on real-life activities, such as in-person social interaction, sports, exercise, homework, and print media, were less likely to report these issues.

Over the last decade, this theory has been borne out by a large body of research linking teenagers’ use of social media with increased teenage depression.

These studies show that the frequency of a teen’s use of social media has a clear correlation to their mental health.