This might not come to a surprise to parents and teachers, but too much online activity, particularly social media, can contribute to poor teen mental health. In fact, this is not is not the first article to address this issue. Yet, there was another recent article published on this topic on WebMD who drew their information from an online magazine called Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. It’s becoming more and more clear that when teens spend too much time on the computer, the online activities affect their psychological health.
The recent study described on WebMD indicates that teens who spend more than two hours on social media sites are more likely to report that they have a problem. Apparently, teens who spend two hours or more per day online were more likely to describe their mental health as “poor”. However, another significant part of the study revealed that teens not only may experience concerns having to do with psychological health, but also these teens seem to be less likely to have their perceived mental health needs addressed.
Many parents don’t need to be told that social media simply isn’t a good idea. They know that their children can be influenced in negative ways when surfing the net. Furthermore, there is a large amount of bullying and sexting that goes on via social media, drawing teens into circumstances that can turn risky. At the same time, it might be difficult to keep teens away from social media because of the socialization, connecting, and communication that can happen online. Furthermore, another benefit for teens is searching for online resources as a means to find key source of information and advice for their growth and well being. In fact, 57% of those teens who use social network sites reported that they look to their online social network for advice. And more and more teens are turning to online searches for gaining answers on their health concerns.
Yet, other teens have opted to stay away from the dangers that are present on the Internet, specifically with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In fact, another study found that teens who are heavy social media users are actually less satisfied with their lives, tend to get into trouble more often, are sad or unhappy, and often are bored. Although there are some benefits to exploring the world online, as described above, there are some risks for those who might already be vulnerable to peer rejection. And it’s easier for teens to demonstrate behaviors of rejection towards one another online than in person. These kind of activities range from the usual avoiding of certain people, as teens might do anyway while in person, to overt online bullying.
Because of the pros and cons to social media, parents and teens may need to work together to find a happy medium. They may need to find the right balance between spending time online for the connection, socialization, and information seeking; while avoiding the risks that come with too much social media.