Social media is a big part of most teenagers’ lives. A 2018 survey of nearly 750 teens aged 13-17 found 45% were online almost constantly and 97% were using a social media platform, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.
So what impact does social media use have on our daughters? In an article by Mayo Clinic staff some of the benefits cited include allowing teens to create online identities, communicate with others and build social networks. These networks can provide teens with valuable support, especially those who experience exclusion or have chronic illnesses or disabilities. Social media that's humorous or provides a meaningful connection to peers and a wide social network might even help teens avoid depression.
Other benefits stated include:
exposure to current events
interaction with others across geographic boundaries
information on a range of subjects, including healthy behaviour
But as we know, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumour spreading, and unrealistic views of other people's lives.
Research indicates the risks might be related to how much time teens spend on social media. A 2019 study of more than 6,500 12-15 year olds found those who accessed social media more than three hours a day might be at an increased risk for mental health problems. Another study of more than 12,000 teens in England found that using social media more than three times a day predicted poor mental health and well-being.
The Mayo Clinic also states that research shows how teens use social media also might determine its impact. A 2015 study found that social comparison and feedback seeking by teens using social media was linked with depressive symptoms.
There are also numerous studies which demonstrate that teens who use social media passively, such as just viewing others' photos, report declines in life satisfaction and believe that others are happier than they are.
Interestingly, those who spent time going out with friends or using social media to interact with others or post their own content didn't experience the same declines.
As teens can be impulsive, they may also create posts without considering the consequences or privacy concerns and are at risk of sharing inappropriate photos or highly personal stories. Unfortunately, this can result in teens being bullied, harassed or even blackmailed.
As a parent, it is really important to encourage responsible use of social media and support our daughters to limit some of its negative effects. So, what are some of the ways your daughter can protect herself?
Set reasonable limits. avoid letting social media interfere with your activities, sleep, meals or homework. Try and follow a bedtime routine that avoids electronic media use, and keep your mobile and tablet out of your bedroom.
Know what's not OK. Do not gossip, spread rumours, bully or damage someone's reputation — online or otherwise.
Make time to have face-to-face contact with friends. This is particularly important for those who may be vulnerable to social anxiety disorder.
Talk to a trusted adult. Talk about your social media habits. Discuss how you are using social media and how it makes you feel. Remember that social media is full of unrealistic images.
Acting Deputy Principal - Students