Social media and the effects on American adolescents

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The effect of social media on adolescents has been studied increasingly as social media have become more prevalent. By using social media, adolescents can develop issues associated with mental health, but positive effects are also present.

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Positive impacts[edit]

Social media may positively affect adolescents by promoting a feeling of inclusion, providing greater access to more friends, and enhancing romantic relationships. Some adolescents with social and emotional issues feel more included with social media and online activities.[1] As social media usage has risen, the typical adolescent in the United States has become less socially isolated and more likely to linger in public spaces, because social media have changed the ways that they are able to interact in public spaces. Additionally, social media provide a way to communicate with friends and family when alone.[2]

Adolescents who use social media tend to be more outgoing and interact more with others online and in person. Social media provide adolescents within the United States the ability to connect with people from other countries. Being involved in social media typically improves communication skills, social connections, and technical skills. Furthermore, adolescents who are students can use social media to seek academic help.[3] Using social media for learning purposes can have positive effects on students and instructors, including faster progress, higher performance, and greater student engagement.[citation needed]

Negative impacts[edit]

Social comparison theory examines how people establish their personal value by comparing themselves to others.[4] These social comparisons and related feelings of jealousy, when made on social media platforms, can lead to the development of symptoms of depression in users.[5] Depression is common also for children and adolescents who have been cyberbullied.[6]According to Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2015, nationwide, 15.5% of students had been electronically bullied, counting being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting, during the 12 months before the survey[7] . Using 7 or more social media platforms has been correlated with a higher risk of anxiety and depression in adolescents.[8] While making friends is possible on social media, adolescents using social media may experience loneliness and question others' genuineness.[9] The parents of adolescents may not understand social media fully and are concerned about safety and the effect of social media on social development.[10] The increased role of social media and technology in adolescents' daily communications may affect their development of in-person relationships. Increased social media usage may impact how adolescents socialize face-to-face, leading to social isolation when faced with self-doubt or a lack of confidence.[11]Social media can significantly influence body image concerns in female adolescents.[12] Young women who are easily influenced by the images of others on social media may hold themselves to an unrealistic standard for their bodies because of the prevalence of digital image alteration. Engaging with social media platforms two hours before falling asleep can seriously effect sleep quality, and a longer duration of digital media use is associated with reduced total sleep time.[13] Young adults who have a strong Facebook presence show more signs of other psychological disorders, including anti-social behaviors.[citation needed] Youths who frequently use social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who dedicate themselves to outdoor activities don’t have that much risk.[14]


  1. ^ Pierce, Tamyra (2009). "Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communication versus technological communication among teens". Computers in Human Behavior. 25 (6): 1367–72. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2009.06.003.
  2. ^ Hampton, Keith N; Goulet, Lauren Sessions; Albanesius, Garrett (2014). "Change in the social life of urban public spaces: The rise of mobile phones and women, and the decline of aloneness over 30 years". Urban Studies. 52 (8): 1489–504. doi:10.1177/0042098014534905.
  3. ^ O'Keeffe, G. S; Clarke-Pearson, K (2011). "The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families". Pediatrics. 127 (4): 800–4. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054. PMID 21444588.
  4. ^ Social Comparison Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2017, from
  5. ^ Walton, A. G. (2017, June 30). 6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from Forbes website:
  6. ^ Hamm, Michele P; Newton, Amanda S; Chisholm, Annabritt; Shulhan, Jocelyn; Milne, Andrea; Sundar, Purnima; Ennis, Heather; Scott, Shannon D; Hartling, Lisa (2015). "Prevalence and Effect of Cyberbullying and Children and Young People". JAMA Pediatrics. 169 (8): 770–7. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0944. PMID 26098362.
  7. ^ Kann L, McManus T, Harris WA, et al. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance United States, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ 2016;65(No. SS-6):1–174. DOI:
  8. ^ Zagorski, Nick (2017). "Using Many Social Media Platforms Linked with Depression, Anxiety Risk". Psychiatric News. 52 (2): 1. doi:10.1176/
  9. ^ Antheunis, Marjolijn L; Schouten, Alexander P; Krahmer, Emiel (2014). "The Role of Social Networking Sites in Early Adolescents' Social Lives". The Journal of Early Adolescence. 36 (3): 348–71. doi:10.1177/0272431614564060.
  10. ^ Ahn, June (2011). "The effect of social network sites on adolescents' social and academic development: Current theories and controversies". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 62 (8): 1435–45. doi:10.1002/asi.21540.
  11. ^ "Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018". Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. 2018-05-31. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  12. ^ Perloff, Richard M (2014). "Social Media Effects on Young Women's Body Image Concerns: Theoretical Perspectives and an Agenda for Research". Sex Roles. 71 (11–12): 363–77. doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0384-6.
  13. ^ Orzech, Kathryn M; Grandner, Michael A; Roane, Brandy M; Carskadon, Mary A (2016). "Digital media use in the 2 h before bedtime is associated with sleep variables in university students". Computers in Human Behavior. 55 (A): 43–50. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.08.049. PMC 5279707. PMID 28163362.
  14. ^ “National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2015 (NSDUH-2015-DS0001).” Treatment Episode Data Set: Discharges (TEDS-D) | SAMHDA,