How social media is harming young users

How social media is harming young users

Abigail Kiley, Opinions Writer

As most people know, social media has become extremely prevalent in teenage culture, providing a way for teens to connect with others at the press of a button and share themselves with the world. More recently, social media has helped many adolescents communicate with one another during a worldwide pandemic, a time when socialization is much more difficult. While there may be positives to this easy access to communication, it brings with it a variety of harmful problems for young users. Just a few of the threats social media poses on teens are damaging their mental health, creating an addiction, providing an easier way to bully others, producing a false sense of reality and diminishing real-life communication skills.

Constant comparison and hours spent scrolling aimlessly through online posts can be detrimental to a person’s mental health, as one may guess. An article from Mayo Clinic stated that a 2019 study of over 6,500 kids aged 12-15 in the U.S. found that the kids who spent over three hours per day on social media are predicted to be at a greater risk for mental health issues. Arguably, this data collection proves the point that social media is negative for kids’ mental health. Social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok (which are both commonly used among the younger generation) have built-in algorithms that tailor the user’s feed to fit what the app is calculating they might like or spend more time looking at. By doing this, 

teens are likely to fall into the trap of continuously scrolling. Already being more likely to criticize themselves, teens that scroll through posts of people who appear to be living their best life and look like what society deems to be “beautiful” can get into their heads and mindset, creating low self-esteem and causing them to not value themselves for who they are.

Many of us have found ourselves spending too much time on a device, getting easily distracted by the endless amount of information readily available on the internet. This also can become a major problem, especially for those with growing and developing brains. Information provided by UCLA remarks that the teenage brain positively reacts to “likes” received on posts online. Given the combination of the algorithms built into these social networks and the easily influenced teenage mind, can lead to a heavy reliance or even addiction to the cellphone. An article given by Harvard informs readers of the dopamine release that can happen when interacting with others online. This response can create a want to keep going back and checking social media platforms because of this positive association. Being able to keep checking these platforms reinforces the positive association, which can become an issue when there is a heavy reliance on going to these sites. T

eens are more susceptible to addictions to start with, so having something that is reinforcing the behavior can worsen the feelings of connectedness to the phone.

Most people have heard of the term “cyberbullying” by now. This is because of how prevalent online bullying has become among kids. According to, there has been a 70% increase in digital bullying among teens and children. Cyberbullying is just another form of bullying, but it makes it easier to hide because there is no face-to-face confrontation, only words, and messages behind a screen. This also makes it easier for others to bully because they don’t have to encounter the difficulty of facing somebody in person. Cyberbullying is just yet another threat to teens who are regularly online.

Another concern produced by social media is the disconnect from reality. So many people online pose themselves to be living these extravagant and beautiful lives, and while some of these posts may be real, they are not showing the whole picture of somebody’s life. Viewing images virtually can make people disconnect from the reality of what is going on.

In in the real world by displaying a false picture of what people’s lives are like. As mentioned before, teens are more vulnerable to self-criticism, so over-participating in these types of behaviors can negatively affect a teen’s wellbeing.

Finally, social media can decrease a young person’s ability to effectively communicate in real-life situations. This can lead to more awkward interactions and ineffective expression of one’s thoughts and feelings. If a person is used to texting people online with no real emotion or expression in real life, this is going to affect their ability when it comes to communicating face-to-face with a person

Overall, social media companies are taking advantage of these algorithms they have created to draw more people into their site without looking at the issues that come with the design. Teens in particular need to be more aware ofthis and the consequences it poses. Always keep in mind that you can’t trust everything you see on social media and tell yourself when you spend too much time on your device, it can be good to step away.