The importance of social media for teenagers
Nowadays, 92.2% of Canada’s teenager regularly use social media (Canadians’ Assessments of Social Media in Their Lives, 2021). While they can use different medias as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or TikTok, all help them to have a feeling of being part of a community and promote their creativity (Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In., 2021). The use of these platforms by people and businesses has only increased in the last years and is now an integral part of life, which makes it more and more powerful (Why Has Social Media Become an Integral Part of Life?, n.d.).
Danger of social media platforms
Social media platforms are designed to attract the consumer, get their attention and to make him want to stay on the platform for as long as possible (Cocchiarella, 2021). Especially the most recent platforms as Instagram and TikTok have manipulative algorithms that collect the data of the consumers comments, likes, and screen time to propose always more content that will captivate their attention (Cocchiarella, 2021). This makes these platforms very addictive for everyone but especially teenagers as their brains are still in development and as they are more influenceable (Media Influence on Pre-teens and Teenagers: Social Media, Movies, YouTube and Apps, 2022). Furthermore, as everyone can post something on social media and because not all information is verified, it can quickly lead to the spread of misinformation (Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In., 2021).
Downsides for teenagers’ mental health
Next to the issues that are cause by the functioning of the platforms itself, there are also issues that emerge from the regular use of social media (The Dangers of Social Media and How to Avoid Them, n.d.). These issues, which are anxiety, depression, eating disorders, envy, reduced self-esteem or reduced sleep quality, touch especially teenagers as they are more vulnerable (Ehmke, 2022). Social media can also be the platform where teenagers get cyberbullied, have antisocial behaviours or are being stalked (Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In., 2021).
As social media is getting increasingly popular, it is important to recognise all associated risks and to make teenagers aware of them. This will help them to deal with the danger of social media and to protect themselves against it. By using the platforms in a responsible way, they will be able to get a positive experience.
Canadians’ assessments of social media in their lives. (2021, March 24). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/36-28-0001/2021003/article/00004-eng.htm
Cocchiarella, C. (2021, November 30). Manipulative Algorithms and Addictive Design: Summing Up What’s Wrong with Social Media. MINDFUL TECHNICS. https://mindfultechnics.com/manipulative-algorithms-and-addictive-design-summing-up-whats-wrong-with-social-media/
Ehmke, R. (2022, October 26). How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers. Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/how-using-social-media-affects-teenagers/
Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In. (2021, July). Columbia Public Health. https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/just-how-harmful-social-media-our-experts-weigh
Media influence on pre-teens and teenagers: social media, movies, YouTube and apps. (2022, October 12). Raising Children Network. https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/entertainment-technology/media/media-influence-on-teens
The Dangers of Social Media and How to Avoid Them. (n.d.). https://effectiviology.com/dangers-of-social-media/
Why has social media become an Integral part of Life? (n.d.). https://www.tutorialspoint.com/why-has-social-media-become-an-integral-part-of-life