Introduction

9 Ways Social Media is Impacting Teens

Amanda Page Apr 26th, 2012 (updated Oct 9th, 2014)
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A Common Sense Media Poll found that half of American teens log onto their favorite social media platform at least once a day, while 22 percent do so at least 10 times a day. Given this, many teens and tweens primarily interact via social media rather than by hanging out face-to-face with friends. While this demonstrates a major shift in youth interaction habits, social media has likely also altered the development of young people. Here are some ways social media is impacting the mental health of teens both positively and negatively.

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Developing professional skills
Developing professional skills

A recent study found that the use of social networking websites is helping students learn the skills needed to be successful in the professional world at an earlier age and regardless of sociological background. Teens are developing a positive attitude towards technology, editing and customizing content, experimenting with online design and layout, and sharing creative work like artwork, literature, and videos.

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Facebook depression
Facebook depression

This is a debatable theory; Facebook depression could be a manifestation of the depression that some kids would experience regardless, as opposed to a distinct condition linked with using Facebook. The in-your-face number of friends, constant status updates, and photos of happy peers at parties can intensify feelings of social isolation. 

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Facilitate social interaction
Facilitate social interaction

Social media sites are based completely on interacting with your peers and even sharing media and personal experiences, so in many ways online interaction is a digital extension of an existing relationship. Additionally, social media provides an opportunity to connect like-minded people who otherwise may not have connected.  Social networking also helps to keep long distance friendships alive that would otherwise fizzle out.  

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Sexting
Sexting

Sexting is a growing trend among teens in the U.S., and it is rife with unintended consequences.  It has resulted in individuals landing on the sex offender registry, in court, and in some cases death.  Many teens simply do not understand the consequences associated with sending explicit photos of themselves into the digital world.  

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Attaining a sense of identity
Attaining a sense of identity

Interacting via social media is a way for teens to express their opinions and views with peers. Teens interact more openly with peers than they do with adults and social media can provide them with the age specific forum they need to help them grow and better understand themselves.  Social media also helps teens discover music, movies, and hobbies that appeal to their personal tastes.  

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Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying occurs when a child/teen is tormented, harassed, embarrassed, or targeted by another over the Internet. Cyberbullying-related suicides and school dropouts have been making headlines recently.  Social media has made bullying particularly insidious in that home is no longer a refuge from school bullies; there is now round-the-clock opportunity for bullies to torment their victims.  

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Community opportunities
Community opportunities

Social media is a wonderful way for teens to discover volunteer opportunities, internships, and educational programs.  Being exposed to potential growth opportunities is very inspiring for teens and social media provides huge opportunities to see what peers are doing and how they can get involved with the community.  Some schools are even using social media to get students to collaborate and exchange ideas outside of school.  

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Anti-social behaviors
Anti-social behaviors

Some kids are opting to forego interpersonal communication altogether in favor of online interactions.  Kids are texting, tweeting, and messaging instead of calling each other or hanging out face-to-face. There is also an apparent attention deficit problem when teens are in social setting.  Instead of engaging with each other they direct their attention to a mobile device in order to avoid what feels like uncomfortable interaction.  

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Narcissistic tendencies
Narcissistic tendencies

Recent studies show that teens who spend a lot of time using social media are more likely to show narcissistic tendencies. Signs of social network narcissism include constant status updates, tons of photo uploads, frequent location “check-ins,” and a very large number of  “friends.”