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Social Media Use and Mental Health

The Impact of Social Media Use On Teens' Mental Health

There's no doubt that teens are logging more hours of screen time than ever before. A new report revealed that nearly one in five teenagers spends at least 4 hours online per day. Much of this time is spent on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat — one study found that 22% of teens log onto their favorite social media sites more than ten times per day.

These social media platforms can help teens connect with friends and express themselves, but some studies have suggested that social media use could also impact teens' mental health. What's the truth? Here is what parents need to know to protect their teens:

Conflicting studies about social media use and mental health

Researchers have conducted several studies on the link between social media use and mental health issues in teens. In one study, teenagers and young adults who spent the most time on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms were between 13 to 66% more likely to report symptoms of depression than users who spent the least time on these sites.

Some experts suspect the connections that teens make on social media aren't emotionally fulfilling, which can make them feel isolated, anxious and depressed. There is also a belief that teens can lose self-esteem by constantly comparing themselves to filtered and edited images shared by other social media users. This loss of self-esteem could eventually lead to body image issues, depression and anxiety.

But, other studies cast doubt on these supposed links between social media use and mental health struggles. Recently, researchers concluded an 8-year study that analyzed how the amount of time spent on social media affected teens' mental health. These researchers found that there was no correlation between social media usage and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

These researchers concluded that it's not social media use that could lead to depression and anxiety, but rather the way social media is used. For this reason, parents need to understand how to help teens develop healthy social media habits.

How to help teens foster healthy social media habits

Active social media use is healthier than passive social media use. This means parents should encourage teens to comment on posts, like pictures and engage with others instead of just scrolling mindlessly through their feeds.

Parents can also help their teens break the habit of consuming social media out of boredom. Logging onto social media specifically to look up something or to connect with a specific person is a healthier way to use these platforms.

Finally, parents should consider “banning" social media at least one hour before bed. Too many teens are sleep deprived, but there are things you can do to help your kids develop good sleep habits. Setting boundaries around social media use, and screen time in general, can be a very effective way to help your teen get more sleep .

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you and your family overcome life's greatest challenges. Contact us today!