Does Social Media Help or Hurt Mental Health?

By: Sophia Powell

Did you know, as of 2020 over 90% of children ages 13-17 use some form of social media on a daily basis? More than half of kids 10-12 don’t have any kind of social media. Social media includes sites and apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.. Even though not all social media sites are meant to be used by teens, most of them are, and they can have very negative effects. According to Maryville University, social media was originally created to make new friends and help existing friends, family, and colleagues communicate with each other digitally in an easier way than iMessage. However, most parents don’t support social media because it can distract teens from school, sleep, and life in general. Social media can also expose young kids to things like rumor spreading, bullying, peer pressure, and showing them unrealistic views of other people’s lives. Aside from bullying, giving kids an unrealistic view of others’ lives is a very important issue because it can make them feel like they are less compared to others that are “showing off.” Most of the time it’s all fake, which is the worst part because kids could remember that for the rest of their lives and think to themselves “wow I don’t have as much as them” or “I’m not worth as much as them”. This doesn’t just apply to objects or things, this also applies to actual people. With all of these editing apps becoming more advanced, the pictures people see most start to look more and more believable when they most likely aren’t. This can lead to depression and anorexia by kids who just want to fit in.  However, there are good aspects to social media such as teaching kids about healthy behaviors and new things, exposure to news events happening, and let students from across the world join into the conversation. Social media can even help kids with disabilities and chronic illnesses join in on the conversation through the use of some of the settings on existing apps to accommodate their needs. According to HelpGuide, social media can even help ease stress, anxiety, depression, prevent loneliness, and provide comfort and joy. Most parents are worried about their children being on social media, which makes sense. Studies by the New York Times show that children 12 and under should not be on social media. It is fine to have your younger kids on social media but with proper parental supervision. However, if you don’t want your kids to be on social media, it will most likely be pretty hard to keep them off of it since it’s likely that most of their friends will be on it. To keep your young child off of social media, educate them on the risks of being active on social media, set rules for social media use, and keep an open dialogue with your child so that they won’t feel the need to be on social media. You can even consider products that can help monitor your child’s online activity. Although social media is not a terrible place for kids, it still isn’t an amazing place for kids, so I advise you to wait.

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