Social media is an integral part of today’s society. We use it as a portal for communication and entertainment. While social media can have a positive effect, spending too much time on social media can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional health.

Studies have shown that teens spend more time each day on their phones than they do sleeping.  It’s important to understand the positive and negative influences social media has on teens.

Social learning

Adolescence is a period that is very important for social learning. Living in the digital age, electronic devices are changing how teenagers interact with their friends.

According to studies, most teenagers devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time. Often, you would see them holding their smartphones, scrolling, trolling, sharing, texting, you name it. With the rise of social media, it is clear that today’s youths are missing out on very critical social skills. They are doing most of their communication through mobile devices, rather than face-to-face interactions. They are missing out on real-life interactions.

What’s great about digital technology is that teens find it easier to meet new friends. Today, meeting and interacting with friends is no longer limited to their neighborhood, playing field or school yard. They use technology to make friends and keep in touch with them.

Reward circuitry

Social media provides a platform for healthy expression. It allows us to post or share whatever we want. A lot of people, teens most especially, post their selfies on social media. Oftentimes, they do this to seek validation.

Recent studies suggest that the number of likes they get on their picture has a direct effect on their brain. The portion of the brain that gets activated by pleasurable activities like winning money or eating chocolates – the reward circuitry – also gets activated when they get a large number of likes on social media. The more likes they get, the more popular they feel. This, in turn, gives them a boost in confidence. The downside is that they become pressured into posting the perfect photo to get them more likes.

Failure to meet the standards and not getting enough likes may cause feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing. Teens may also experience loneliness and jealousy when their friends appear more attractive or more popular on social media. Constantly seeing what their friends are doing and how people react to them can trigger depressive feelings.