Is Social Media Making Our Teens Miserable?
Won the popularity race by getting the most likes? <i>Yay for you!</i> Got a short-term morale booster based on those likes? <i>Sorry for you! </i>(Photo: iStock)
Won the popularity race by getting the most likes? Yay for you! Got a short-term morale booster based on those likes? Sorry for you! (Photo: iStock)

Is Social Media Making Our Teens Miserable?

Is the social engagement on your profile picture a validation of your self-esteem? Till a couple of years back, the many lengths you go to curate a perfect selfie would be considered downright vain. Over the past half decade we have all become our own PR firms. Always figuring out a way to get more traffic, ‘likes’ and comments.

And the smartphone is alienating us. The more we expect from technology, the less we expect from each other.

The longer we spend time on social networking sites, the more depressed we are in our real world. At least that’s the conclusion of a countless number of studies, the latest being a major research done on over 3,000 teenagers in Finland.

JAMA Pediatrics (The Journal of the American Medical Association) has conducted 10 studies to see if there is a link between social media use and depression. Alarmingly, every single study showed a significant correlation.

‘Facebook depression’ is real. It is worse for the adolescents. The good news is that you are not alone. But by definition, you kinda are!

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Teens Equate Their Self-Worth With Their Social Media Engagement

We all are guilty of comparing our lives to that of others. If the comparison inspires you then brilliant, but when you’re prone to depression,  the comparisons become negative, and erode self-esteem (Photo: iStock)
We all are guilty of comparing our lives to that of others. If the comparison inspires you then brilliant, but when you’re prone to depression, the comparisons become negative, and erode self-esteem (Photo: iStock)

In another research done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the adolescent participants study revealed that “their emotional health declined when they were ignored on social networking sites”, while others thought “their friendship was in jeopardy when their friends didn’t like their posts.”

The stress of constantly monitoring Instagram and posting snaps is taking its toll. A New York University study of 10 popular schools in the US found that teachers were worried that their students were incapable of talking face-to-face outside their peer groups.

Forget about finding themselves in real life, discovering the real world – with roughly 60 million images uploaded to Instagram everyday, psychologists are seeing that adolescents, like most of us, are just trying to find a version of themselves that gets the maximum hearts.

It’s not just about validation. Social media can crush your soul. Adolescents don’t take trolling well. They can get clinically anxious and depressed because they are emotional, hormonal time bombs. Social media is in their DNA. A lot of things are still not fitting together in their brains, so a case of online bullying can lead to a major depressive episode.
Dr Anjali, Child Psychiatrist

Wonder if there is an unwritten popularity ranking which is based on your social media score!

Sorry to pop your bubble kids, a double tap on the Instagram screen doesn’t determine validation but the study noted that the teenagers who got less likes, felt more depressed and got lonely.

It Can Make You Feel Inadequate, Lonely In a Crowd

Have we sacrificed conversation for connection?  (Photo: iStock)
Have we sacrificed conversation for connection? (Photo: iStock)

Mark Zuckerberg wrote in 2012 that social media is bringing out empowerment in society. But the digital togetherness is not just empowering, it can also leave you lonely in a crowd. The carefully curated digital life of your friends might force you to think yours isn’t good enough.

You see a picture of your pals partying and instantly go down the rabbit hole thinking why weren’t you invited? You see your friend’s picture in a new dress, you feel jealous. The more time you spend online, the more unfulfilled you feel. 
Dr Anjali, Child Psychiatrist

It’s an increasingly disturbing situation.

You’re getting used to being alone in a crowd.

I often say, “I’d rather text than talk.” Psychologists find this behaviour worrisome. With smart phones, the art of real interaction is on its way out. The Facebook posts, the comments and tweets can never replace the face-to-face human conversation. Social media allows us to be in charge of our culpability and our conceit.

You get what I earlier meant by, the more we expect from technology, the less we expect from each other?

Feeling Miserable? Take a Break. Delete an App or Two

Drop the phone, step out for some unadulterated family joy (Photo: iStock)
Drop the phone, step out for some unadulterated family joy (Photo: iStock)

You don’t need an expert to tell you that happiness depends on the quality of your friends and not quantity. At the cost of sounding all AAish, the first step to learn to log off is to acknowledge that you are unnecessarily sucked up in your phone all the time. Only then can you break the habit.

  • If Instagram is making you feel toxic, instead of holding on to those feelings, delete the app.
  • Stop being an addict. Make a constant effort to be keep your phone aside and talk to the people you are with.
  • Make a plan to leave the house. Run errands with your friends or partner.
  • Physically be with your gang who makes you happy.
  • Don’t tell the world through a status update about your day, ask your partner how his day was. It will make a difference.

Someone told me once, we can all live life a little better if we had hands to hold rather than click a selfie. That someone couldn’t be more right. Think about it.

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