The Effect of Social Media on the Mental Health of Highschoolers

Erin Egan, In-Depth Writer

   TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook. All very well-known social media platforms. Social media is a great way to stay connected to friends and others and spread news. A lot of people enjoy scrolling through their phones and watching a funny video that someone posted, or seeing a photo of someone’s pet. However, while social media can have benefits, a lot of studies show it can actually harm someone’s mental health. The bottom line is that a teenager spending hours on social media may not be the best for them.


What are the effects of social media?

         For starters, according to News Medical, teenagers can be very self-conscious about how other people online view them. As a result, they may become insecure about their calories, weight, and shape, which can lead to calorie counting, skipping meals and heavy exercising. All of these are behaviors that are associated with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders are not only mental illnesses, but are also very dangerous, sometimes resulting in death. A study from Medical News found that of the 52% of girls and 45% of boys who struggle with behaviors that are associated with eating disorders, 75% of the girls and 70% of the boys had one or several social media platforms downloaded on their devices. 


        Eating disorders aren’t the only problem that social media is causing teenagers. According to Columbia University, social media can cause feelings of anxiety and depression. This is because some people don’t spend as much time in the real world as they do on social media, reducing the amount of time they socialize in real life. This can lead to feelings of  hopelessness or isolation. Moreover, a lot of comparisons happen on the internet. Comparing oneself to others’ followers, looks or friends can result in major insecurities. People can feel like they will never be good enough for this reason. 


How cyberbullying affects mental health?

       Bullying also takes a toll on youths’ mental health. Social media is not a safe place when it comes to bullying. The more a person is online, the bigger chance that they will be cyberbullied. The National Library of Medicine reported that those who have been bullied or harassed online have had increased feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness. Cyberbullying can even lead to suicidal thoughts and suicide.


     While social media can have some benefits, the effects it has on a teenager’s mental health are very damaging, and it’s safe to say that it is not healthy to spend a lot of time each day on these platforms. Instead, one should limit the time one spends on social networking apps.