Are you feeling overwhelmed by social media? You’re not alone! Social media has become a part of our daily lives, and while it can be a great tool for connecting with your friends and discovering new things (that viral feta pasta was amazing), it can also have negative effects on our mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being.
Should you quit social media forever? Probably not. Should you go on a social media break to restore your mental well-being? Perhaps. Let’s take a look to see the pros and cons of social media for teenagers.
How Much Time Do Teens Spend on Social Media?
Check your phone’s Screen Time to see how much social media you’re getting – you might be surprised! The most popular social media platform for teens is YouTube, with 95% admitting to using it daily. 67% of teens say they ever use TikTok, with 16% of all teens saying they use it almost constantly throughout the day.
The average adolescent spends more than five hours a day on social media. 32% said they were online for five to six hours, 17% reported being online for seven to eight hours, and 13% said they were online nine or more hours a day.
The Positive Effects of Social Media On Teens
Let’s start with some positives. Social media can provide a sense of community and support for teenagers who may feel isolated or marginalized. For people who feel “different,” social media can feel like a safe haven.
It can also provide a platform for advocacy and social justice movements. If you have something big to say, social media is a fantastic platform to share it!
Additionally, social media can help teenagers develop important social skills and expand their knowledge on a variety of topics. Perhaps taking videos for TikTok made you realize how interested you were in video production. So, while it’s important to use social media responsibly and take breaks when needed, it’s also important to recognize the potential benefits it can have for teenagers.
However, as with all good things, there’s a fine line.
The Negative Impact of Social Media on Teens
Did you know that spending more than three hours on social media a day puts you at a higher risk of mental health problems? That’s perhaps why 13% of adolescents report depression, 32% report anxiety, and a quarter report a mental illness.
59% of teens have experienced cyberbullying or online harassment. This can make you feel isolated, socially disconnected, and insecure. It can also prevent you from wanting to spend time with people in real life. Unfortunately, this exacerbates loneliness, which is why 40% of teens report feeling lonely very often.
There is also growing evidence to suggest that social media use can negatively impact sleep patterns in teenagers.
The blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. In addition, social media use before bedtime can increase mental stimulation and arousal, making it more difficult to relax and unwind.
Studies have shown that excessive social media use is associated with shorter sleep duration, poorer sleep quality, and increased risk of insomnia symptoms in teenagers. Lack of sleep can have significant negative impacts on physical and mental health, including increased risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.
Overall, while social media can be beneficial in small doses, it’s worth taking a social media break if you’re feeling like it’s making you overwhelmed or lonely.
The Benefits of Taking a Social Media Break
Social media can have a negative impact on mental health. Constant exposure to the highlight reels of other people’s lives can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. The constant comparison to others can lead to feelings of inferiority and a distorted self-image. This can lead to a range of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
Taking a break from social media can help you focus on your own strengths and accomplishments, leading to an improved sense of self-worth.
If you’re thinking about taking a social media break, here are some ideas of things to do to fill your time.
1. Go for a walk or hike
Walking or hiking can help improve cardiovascular health, boost mood, and reduce stress levels. Spending time in nature has also been linked to improved mental health.
2. Try a new workout class
Trying a new workout class, such as yoga, Pilates, or kickboxing, can help improve strength, flexibility, and overall fitness levels. Group fitness classes can also provide a sense of community and support.
3. Start strength training
Strength training can help improve muscle strength and endurance, increase bone density, and reduce the risk of injury. It can also boost confidence and self-esteem.
4. Join a sports team
Joining a sports team, such as basketball or soccer, can help improve physical fitness, teamwork skills, and overall confidence. You’ll also meet like-minded peers IRL!
Meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and increase feelings of relaxation and calm. It’s free, effective, and a great way to recenter your mind during a social media break.
Journaling can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-awareness and understanding, and provide a space for self-reflection and self-expression. Writing down thoughts and feelings can also help process and work through challenging emotions.
7. Engage in creative activities
Engaging in creative activities, such as painting, drawing, or playing music, can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-expression, and provide a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. They’re also a great alternative for social media use if you want to express your creativity!
8. Connect with loved ones
When we spend too much time online, we forget the people who care about us in real life. Spending time with friends and family can provide a sense of connection and support, and improve overall mood and well-being. This can include activities such as having a phone call or video chat, going for a walk together, or engaging in a shared hobby or interest.
You’ve Strong Enough to Take Things Offline
Remember, taking a social media break can have many benefits for your mental health and overall well-being. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, give it a try! Let’s prioritize our mental health and take care of ourselves.