Nowadays, it is believed that teen lives have improved significantly. The standard of living has increased over time as intake of alcohol and drugs have reduced. However, growing evidence proves that today’s teens are facing a mental health crisis.

According to Independent, it has been discovered that rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years. During the past 3 years, hospital admissions for teenagers with eating disorders have also almost doubled.

One of the prime reason for this increase in mental disorders is believed to be social media. According to a survey poll of 1500 14-24-year-olds found that technology- more specifically social networking websites could intensify the feeling of inadequacy and anxiety.

Social media causes depression and other mental illnesses in a number of ways!

1. Majority of today’s youth have witnessed Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying which takes place online and has made 87% of the youth its victim. It includes vulgar messages or emails, rumours and embarrassing content posted on social networking sites. 

This form of bullying can be more harmful as it can happen at any time, even when someone is alone. Messages and images can be posted anonymously, hence it is extremely difficult to trace the bully’s source or delete the content after they have been sent out.

2. It makes us unhappy, unsatisfied & insecure

On social networking sites, such as Instagram, people tend to post pictures that give others the impression that they have exciting and amazing lives.

They often take hundreds of pictures, but end up selecting just a few, which they of course excessively edit!

Teens often compare their real lives to idealized, online versions which stunts their self-confidence. They also base their self-worth on the number of likes and comments they receive.

3. It creates feelings of loneliness & alienation

Social media was created to connect us virtually, but in reality, it has made us feel more disconnected than ever.

According to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, if you spend over two hours a day on social media, your chances of feeling socially isolated are twice as high.

Through social media, teens can also constantly monitor what’s going on socially, which contributes to the rise in adolescent FOMO (fear of missing out).

4. It has become an “addiction”

For a majority, social media is the first thing they check in the morning and the last thing they check at night. A study in the UK found that two-thirds of people now have trouble relaxing when they can’t access their social media accounts.

While another study claims that social media been shown to activate the same brain areas as addictive drugs such as cocaine. This proves that social media has become more of a necessity than a pass time.

5. Teenagers have access to inappropriate content

A wide range of information on almost any topic can easily be found. Teens are often exposed to graphic images or emotionally heavy information. This can leave a negative impact on them as they are going through a psychologically vulnerable stage.

Approximately 50mn people in Pakistan suffer from common mental disorders (according to Dr Ayesha Mian, Department of Psychiatry at Aga Khan University). However, the stigma against this topic is still prevalent in our society.

Only 2.4% of Pakistan’s annual expenditure is allocated towards health, and even out of that a mere 2% is set aside for mental health.

Awareness and research about mental illness has increased in many parts of the world with efforts being made to address these issues at the adolescent stage.

Despite being aware of the negative effects, individuals still allocate too much time towards it. Instead of handing their children gadgets, parents should encourage them to spend time outdoors and get involved in physical activities.

At the end of the day, a little involvement in your child’s life can save them from multiple problems caused by social media.

Contributed By: Amal Mehboob