Social media and smartphones make us happier, says teenagers in what could be a risky sentiment since evidence shows otherwise.
Common Sense Media reports that teenagers who use social media has jumped from 34 percent in 2012 to 70 percent in 2018.
The survey of more than a thousand teenagers in the U.S. focused on how safe technology use is for families.
Among respondents, 32 percent said they choose to talk in person as opposed to sending messages via social media or smartphones. This is 17 percent less than in 2012.
A significant number of teenagers believe that social media improves their mental health. The report found that about 21 percent of respondents feel more popular, 20 percent feel more confident, and 18 percent feel better about themselves.
On the contrary, 8 percent feel more anxious, three percent feel more depressed, and three percent feel lonelier.
About 11 percent of vulnerable teenagers, with the lowest social-emotional well-being scores, said social media added to their depression. About 29 percent said it made them feel less down.
What Experts Are Saying
Child Mind Institute president Harold Koplewicz shared in the report how troubling social networking and online communities are for the youth that care the most about these platforms.
“These are the children who can be the most negatively affected by cyber-bullying and who can become distraught over the expectations built into curating their online selves,” he added.
He said social media also can also have a positive psychological effect among teens. Some kids look for communities to embrace them, where they can practice social skills and interact freely online.
He said, “This is our experience as mental health professionals, when children and adolescents are allowed to have developmentally appropriate, time-limited access to positive social media and online content.”
These platforms can turn awry though. Teens addicted to smartphones have higher scores in anxiety, depression, impulsivity and insomnia severity, the Radiological Society of North America reported last year.
Children who use their phones in the wee hours have more disruptive sleep and more signs of depression, according to another study shared at the 2018 Associated Professional Sleep Societies in June.
They found that playing games, social media, web surfing and watching TV evoke signs of depression when abused. Gaming is the most influential.
Social media can affect how young people form their own sense of self, said Sierra Filucci, the executive editor of parenting content at Common Sense Media. They may think they are less attractive or less cool without the hottest designer clothes or discover they were left out of a big party advertised on social media. More importantly, the can learn bad habits, such as unhealthy dieting or smoking.
To address the issue, family members and friends have to engage more in person, stop using phones during dinner, and putting the phone far from you during bedtime, Filucci said.
Parents had better supervise their children’s time on social media and mobile devices.