Impact of Social Media on Teenagers: Unraveling the Effects on Mental Health

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Updated: Jun 21, 2023
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Over the years, technology has revolutionized our perspective of the world. Modern technology has made our lives easier, faster, and better in many ways. It has become an influential factor in our everyday lives. Creating a large impact and influence on today’s youth. Although social media is accessible to everyone, studies have found that children from the early age of 8 to 18 years old spend around 6 to 7 hours a day on social media (Brown & Witherspoon, 2002, p. 154). That is a vast amount of time that children and teens spend a day using their tablets, smartphones, computers, and TVs.

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Technology has created a new community for adolescents through the use of social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have created easier ways for individuals to communicate, socialize, and develop relationships. It is also has become influential in education, information, business, politics, and entertainment. Although social media has its benefits, there pose risks involved with its daily use. Teenage relationship with social media has become hyperconnected. “About 90% of young adults in the U.S. use social media, and the majority of users visit these sites at least once a day (Primack et al., 2016, p. 1). Studies have shown that social media has been linked to mental illnesses. In several studies, young children and adolescents are exposed to various negative effects such as cyberbullying, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem issues, and decreased life satisfaction. Adolescents and adults need to be aware of these potentially harmful effects and understand how to use social media safely and effectively.

This paper will focus on the sub-disciplines of abnormal and developmental psychology as a means to understand the effects and history of social media on adolescents. A literature review will focus on the multiple models describing social media. It will be examined to create an applied research project designed to help prevent mental and physical damage to adolescent groups.
Proposes evidence-based research that will be used to study the areas of abnormal and developmental psychology. Abnormal Psychology addresses unusual patterns of behavior, emotion, and thought.

The impact of social media on the mental health of adolescents is an increasing issue that will only continue to grow if not addressed. This paper examines the negative impacts of social media on mental health in adolescents.

Social Media

There are many ways to define social media (SM). Ali, Iqbal, and Iqbal, 2016 defined “social media” as a form of different platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. (p. 369). Social media comes in many forms: blogs, forums, business networks, photo-sharing, social gaming, and chat apps. They give us access to internet-based tools that help us keep connected with family, friends and a way to share information and communicate. It has become a new marketing tool for businesses and advertising. People are constantly on their electronic devices checking their messages, emails, videos, and their social media. Social Media has become ingrained into our society, and it only continues to grow in popularity around the world. It has become an integral part of life online. In this emerging world of technology, accessibility to the internet is possible worldwide just by a push of a button. Will social media continue to change and grow in popularity among the growing generation of adolescents? Time will only tell.

History of Social Media

The use of social media and social networking has increased throughout history. The internet has changed the development of communication and interaction. It revolutionized our way of life. The first social media platform was used back in 1969 and has evolved to the current forms that are used today. Many of the first recognizable major social network sites were launched in 1997. The first networking site was (Boyd & Ellison, 2007, p. 214).

The site combined profiles, friends lists, and school affiliations into one service. A similar and basic prototype version of Facebook. Following, the development of instant messaging was created. Another media platform that brought people together through online communication. Messengers such as ICQ to AIM allowed users to send messages to each other, multi-user chats, and transfer files, and it was free if you had access to the internet. Boyd and Ellison stated that from 1997 to 2001, there was an increase in social network sites: AsianAvenue, BlackPlanet, and MiGente.

Many of these sites allow individuals to create a variety of profiles, ranging from personal, professional, and dating (p. 214). The creation of Ryze in 2001 allowed users to build profiles, add friends, and include instant messaging. This website would be the precursor to LinkedIn, a professional networking site. The site is available to anyone who is interested in promoting their business or looking for new career opportunities to connect with other professionals. The creators of much social networking such as Ryzr,, LinkedIn, and Friendster, were close on a personal and professional level. They chose to work alongside each other in support rather than compete. But this led to many of the sites failing compared to others.

In The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media, Jose van Dijck provides the reader with a summary of the rise of social media. “From the late 1990s on Ward, Blogger (199), Wikipedia (2001), Myspace (2003), Facebook (2004), Flickr (2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), and a wide array of ensuing platforms began to offer web tools that sparked old and new online communication tactics” (p.7).

Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology studies human behavior, such as anxiety, mood disorders, dissociative disorders, schizophrenia disorders, and personality disorders. Researchers look for the causes of why individuals develop certain habits, behavior, or thoughts that are different. The aim of using abnormal psychology is to examine the negative link of social media to our cognitive, affective, and biological responses. The negative aspects of social media can increase the risk of poor health, such as depression and anxiety.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. It is a serious mental health issue that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. It is more than just a feeling of sadness or depressed mood. People who suffer from depression feel helpless and hopeless and see themselves as worthless. Depression causes emotional and physical problems that can render a person’s ability to function properly. Sadly, depression can affect anyone and, if it goes untreated, can lead to death. Individuals who suffer from depression may experience various symptoms such as tiredness or lack of energy, difficulty focusing or making decisions, lack of sleep or excessive sleep, a loss of interest in activities, changes in weight, and thoughts of death or suicide (Dhir, Yossatorn, Kaur, & Chen, 2018, p. 144). There are several studies that link social media to depression. This is due to the generation today; many spend the majority of their time on their electronic devices. They spend less time interacting with their peers in person and more time interacting with them online. The study conducted by Radovi, Gmelin, Stein, and Miller (2016) found that compared to their non-depressed peers, depressed adolescents are more likely to use the internet (p.5). Their study found that the symptoms of depression varied in the age group. Younger adolescents who used social media frequently were more likely to internalize their behavior by withdrawing themselves from their peers, friends, and family or having feelings of being unwanted or unloved, while older adolescents are more likely to externalize their behavior such as acting out, anger/aggression, irritability (Radovi et al., 2016, p. 6).

Development Psychology

Developmental Psychology studies the psychological development of human beings throughout their lifetime, also the contexts which promote or inhibit this process. It is important to know that biological, psychological, and social forces are crucial factors during adolescent development. There are many changes occurring between childhood to adulthood. One such as puberty, which alters the hormone levels and physical changes in the body. Puberty can create changes in drive, motivation, psychology, and social life. There are also changes in the brain, such as structure and function, which continues throughout adolescence.

Self-Esteem and Life Satisfaction Identity

Social media can cause individuals to think negatively about themselves. It can bruise their self-esteem, pride, or self-respect. Self-esteem also works with an individual’s life satisfaction, such as academic success, relationships, and mental and physical health. Self-esteem will go through changes across an individual’s lifespan. Adolescence is a very delicate phase for people. They are more susceptible to their surroundings. People like to compare themselves to others online. Soak up the aesthetically perfect pictures that others post up online.

Evidence-Based Social Program Proposal

Based on research

As previously mentioned, Social media is an addicting habit that adolescents and young adults are inseparable from. The best way families and parents can help their children is by educating them about the negative impacts it can have on their mental health and well-being. Education, communication, monitoring time, healthy attitudes.


Social Media has been a popular way to communicate. Social media is a large part of everyone’s daily routine, especially teenagers. They can’t go a day without looking at their Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Teenagers are also going through a lot of changes, such as puberty. All they care about is what people think about them, which can lead to problems later as it can affect the way they view themselves. Social Media contributes to this insecurity and illusion that everyone out there is perfect, rich, fit, and everything else they long to be. They want to reflect what they see in return. It could affect their self-esteem.

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Impact of Social Media on Teenagers: Unraveling the Effects on Mental Health. (2023, Jun 21). Retrieved from