The power of social media is undoubtedly immense. It has brought about a huge social change and can be held directly responsible for changing lives and laws. But it has a dark side as well and if uncontrolled, this dark side can take over your children’s lives and affect it in ways you cannot even imagine. Social media can be responsible for affecting the mental health of teens who are quite vulnerable to influence.
Symptoms of depression in teens
When it comes to teen depression, it is often very difficult to understand since children don’t often comprehend it themselves, nor do they open up, which makes it difficult to detect. The common symptoms that are usually exhibited are gradual withdrawal from people, lack of connection, falling grades, avoiding company, etc., but what we do not understand is that often behind the brightest smiles and twinkling eyes lurks the monster of depression. It is true that any mental illness is caused by certain chemical changes in the brain, but social media does aid in fueling depression and other mental health issues to some extent.
Pressure to live up to set standards
Everyone is constantly under a huge pressure to portray a picture-perfect life on social media and that is what teens aspire to live up to. What they do not understand is that food is not merely about Instagram worthy salads and coffee and relationships are matching couple tee shirts and cute pictures! When the realities of life hit them, they are unable to understand that life has the picture-perfect moments sneaked in the messy ugly bits and these moments of happiness are what makes life worth it. Instead they end up feeling miserable and the ideas they seek for remain unfulfilled in their real lives.
Social media harbours an unnecessary sense of competition. People have a tendency to show off their best parts in life, omitting the uglier side. Hence, social media is filled with posts on expensive new things they purchased or a display of what they claim to be a perfect love, life etc. This often leads to a feeling of inferiority among teens as they try to compete with the apparently perfect lives of celebs or other people who appear to be more privileged than themselves. The urge to live up to someone else’s life is a dangerous thing which can cause one’s mental health to plummet real fast!
A major factor fueling teenage mental health is the unnecessary glorification of mental illness. There are groups and pages which feed off the sadness which most teens face, at some point of their lives, to garner more likes, shares and viewership. This helps to turn mild mental health problems or simple sadness into chronic depression. The depressive and often suicidal posts, relating to heartbreak, failure and other negative feelings are designed to resonate with teenage issues which affects them badly over time. The popular suicide game, Blue Whale Challenge, is known to prey on kids who relate to these depressive posts.
While monitoring and control over your teen’s online activities can prevent aggravating their mental illnesses, proper mental health check-up is mandatory for every teen. Teen depression treatment usually begins with therapy and counseling as it is often seen that they can recover easily even without medicine or hospitalisation, which are reserved for only the severe cases. As parents, you need to build a bond with your children so that you can ensure a better mental health before it is too late.