Topic 4 Impact of social media on children and adolescents’ mental health

The use of social media and being online has become an essential part of children and young people’s lives.

According to OECD (2017), ιn 2015, a typical 15-year-old from a country that is a member of the OECD had been using the internet since age 10 and spent more than two hours every weekday online after school, and more than three hours on a weekend day.

Not surprisingly, depending on digital technology and social media has raised concerns in parents, teachers, governments and young people as digital technology and social media can cause anxiety, depression, disturb sleeping patterns and may lead to cyber-bullying and distorting body image.

Children and teenagers are heavily affected by influencers and what they upload on their social media, which can be positive e.g. inspiring them to be more healthy but quite often portray bad examples, unrealistic aspirations, leading to following dangerous trends (e.g. TikTok), and negative effects on their mental wellbeing.

Teenagers and young adults (16-24) are the most frequent users of social media.  They may enjoy some benefits of using social media (e.g. decreasing loneliness or enhancing their existing friendships), but overusing of social media can also have the opposite effect (increased mental health problems e.g. anxiety, depression and suicidality).

Therefore, it’s important to teach children and adolescents on how to use social media.