How Social Media Culture Is Setting Unhealthy Expectations for Teens

How Social Media Culture Is Setting Unhealthy Expectations for Teens

Being a teen is tough. You have to deal with body changes, fledgling relationships, peer pressure, high-school drama and other seemingly endless issues. Add social media to the mix and you begin to understand why so many teens nowadays are battling with depression.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 24% of teens go online “almost constantly”, thanks to the widespread availability of smartphones and other mobile devices. Most of these teens report spending most of their time on social media sites. Facebook emerged as the most popular social media site with a whopping 71% of teens between 13-17 years using it, followed by Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

While it’s no secret that teens everywhere flock to social media, it still doesn’t explain why they end up depressed. To find the answer to that, we have to look at what happens on these sites.

The Other Side Of Social Media

To put it simply, social media sites greatly distort how we view the world. Teens and adolescents are especially vulnerable to this distortion. You see, people use social media to put up pictures of themselves enjoying life and generally having a good time. Bland, mundane photos or statuses don’t make the cut and they don’t get the likes and retweets teens crave.

Take Instagram, for instance. The site provides a range of filters for users to touch up their photos and present an almost perfect image of themselves to the world. Furthermore, there are a lot of people posting images of what the “ideal” male or female body should look like. Teens then view these touched up photos, compare them with their bodies and come up short. You can see how this can easily lead to negative body image and low self-esteem.

Body image isn’t the only aspect of a teen’s life at risk from the negative effects of social media. Relationships, friendships, their views of success- all these can be affected. While we adults are savvy at figuring out that most posts on social media are just for bragging rights, teens aren’t as discerning.

Teenagers who spend most of their time on social media sites can end up with a skewed picture of what life is really like. Seeing everyone having a good life online can breed jealousy and dissatisfaction with their own lives.

Possible Solutions

So what can you do as a parent? Well, for starters, you can talk to your teens and help them understand the distortion caused by social media. Also limit the time they spend online and encourage them to have healthy face-to-face interactions instead.

You can also take the time to learn how to establish healthy boundaries and relationships with your teens to help them become more confident and secure. Visit the Parent Learning Center website for more information on how you can be a more supportive parent to your teens.

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