The adolescent and teen years have always been a challenging time. Peer pressure, insecurity and hormones are just some of the issues facing those in these age groups. But does social media exacerbate these problems? Is using social media making our kids unhappy? Evidence is mounting that there is a link between social media and depression.
What is Social Media?
The ‘social’ part refers to interacting with other people by sharing information with them and receiving information from them. The ‘media’ part refers to an instrument of communication, like the internet (while TV, radio, and newspapers are examples of more traditional forms of media), From the two separate terms, we can pull a basic definition together that social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by sharing and consuming information, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and others.
The Teen Brain and Social Media
For many tweens (between 10 and 12 years old) and teens (between 13 and 19 years old), social media can become almost addictive. In a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) brain mapping center, they found that certain regions of teen brains became activated by ‘likes’ on social media, sometimes causing them to want to use social media more. They were likely to hit ‘like’ on the popular photos regardless of what they showed.
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A report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reveals that among young adults between the ages of 19 and 32, those with high social media usage (those logging on for more than 2 hours a day and checking their accounts 58 times a week) were more likely to deal with feelings of isolation than those with low social media use (they logged on for 30 minutes and checked their accounts 9 times a week).
The Upside of Social Media for Teens
There are some positive aspects to social media. It’s important to remember that teens are hard-wired for socialization, and social media makes socializing easy and immediate. Teens who struggle with social skills, social anxiety, or who don’t have easy access to face to-face socializing with other teens might benefit from connecting with other teens through social media.
Teens in marginalized groups struggling with mental health issues can find support and friendship through use of social media. When teens connect with small groups of supportive teens via social media, those connections can be the difference between living in isolation and finding support.
The Downside Social Media Use by Teens
While teens can use social media to connect and create friendships with others, they also confront cyber bullying, trolls, toxic comparisons, sleep deprivation, and less frequent face-to-face interactions, to name a few.
Focusing on likes : The need to gain “likes” on social media can cause teens to make choices they would otherwise not make, including altering their appearance, engaging in negative behaviors and accepting risky social media challenges.
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Cyber bullying: Teens girls in particular are at risk of cyber bullying through use of social media, but teen boys are not immune. Cyber bullying is associated with depression, anxiety, and an elevated risk of suicidal thoughts.
Making comparisons : Though many teens know that their peers share only their highlight reels on social media, it’s very difficult to avoid making comparisons. Everything from physical appearance to life circumstances, successes and failures are under a microscope on social media.
Sleep deprivation and depression : Some of the ways in which social media use impacts mood may be indirect. For instance, one of the most common contributors to depression in teenagers is sleep deprivation which can be caused, or exacerbated by social media.
Having too many fake friends : Even with privacy settings in place, teens can collect thousands of friends through friends of friends on social media. The more people on the friend list, the more people have access to screenshot photos, Snaps and updates and use them for other purposes. There is no privacy on social media.
Social media and self-esteem : Another theory about the increase of depression is the loss of self-esteem, especially in teenage girls, when they compare themselves negatively with artfully curated images of those who appear to be prettier, thinner, more popular and richer.
Habituating with nudity : A recent study by researchers at the Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement found that 91 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 24 said Instagram was the worst social media platform as it relates to mental health. Instagram was most likely to cause negative effects such as poor body image, fear of missing out and sleep deprivation.
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Duck Syndrome : At Stanford the term ‘Duck! Syndrome describes students struggling to survive the pressures of a competitive environment while presenting the image of relaxed California chill. Imagine a calm duck gliding across a fountain. Underwater, the duck’s feet are paddling furiously against the terrifying possibility that it may sink or even worse, but it reveals calmness.
Internet Users in Bangladesh
According to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), The total number of Internet Subscribers has reached 129.18 million at the end of October, 2021. The number of Mobile Internet Subscribers are 119.11 million and the ISP + ISTN Subscribers are 10.07 million.
The Portrait of Social Media Users in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has seen an exceptional growth in the number of social media users in the past year. The number of people who joined a social platform or network in the country increased by nine million (90 lakh) between 2020 and 2021, according to The Digital Report, a report published by global media company ‘We Are Social’.
The total number of social media tiers in the country is 45 million. It is equivalent to 27.2 percent of the total population of the country. The number of Facebook, Messenger and Instagram users in Bangladesh in November 2021 were 5,27,65,000, 4,57,57,600 and 45,91,600 respectively which accounted 30.5% , 26.4% and 2.7% of its entire population. People aged 18 to 24 were the largest group in the three dimensions. According to Social Media stats in Bangladesh as of November 2021.
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Teens Status in Bangladesh
A report reveals that the teens and youth check their phones upwards of 150 times a day. It is well documented that every youth spends more than 3 hours average in a day on social media. They do not want to miss any post by their peers; rather there is a constant competition to upload photos among themselves. As a result they are being isolated from the real touch of world.
They are found behaving in artificial taste leading to the verge of extinction of moral values in them which accelerate in choosing self-destruction, feeling hollowness in their minds as they hardly downturn themselves from online stand. The British novelist Howard Jacobson said children may be illiterate in 20 years’ time due to the obsession of social media.
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The habit of reading books has declined alarmingly among the children globally as children in the present age prefer to using social media than studying. Studies reveal that 25% of all teens usually present signs of depression due to social media sites, but the percentage of teens suffering may rise with excessive use of social media. It gets more frustrating when we see that many are victimized by online aggression and cyber bullying.
Most often dailies expose the news of tragic death of the teens due to cyber bullying. Social media not only promotes the decline in mental health for many teens, but it can also negatively impact existing relationships with their peers and family members.
According to the report of Pew Research Center, most educators feel students are more distracted than previous generations. However, to save the youth from this menace, family, society and the state can play an integrated role. Parents cannot deny their responsibilities in this regard. Until we realize the irreparable loss of the children due to social media addiction, it is tough to I address the situation.