Too Much Social Media Puts Kids’ Mental Well-Being at Risk

Teenage girl sitting on a park bench with her cell phone sending text messages.

Often, oversharing is an unconscious act — many times people don’t realize it until after the fact that they've just spilled major details about their personal lives. (Image: Antonio Guillem via Dreamstime)

Children are particularly vulnerable to social media. It wasn’t that long ago that connecting to the Internet required a dial-up modem. Nowadays, it’s easy to access the Internet no matter where you’re at any time using your phone or laptop. But having access 24/7 is not all wonderful, especially for kids.

Growing up in this age where social media prevails, children and teenagers are becoming prewired to be connected all the time. A recent survey of thousands of primary and secondary pupils in England found that “children who spend many hours on social media are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, and also to smoke, drink, and have unhealthy eating habits.”

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Half of the children between the ages of 10 and 15 surveyed, who spend more than three hours a day on social media sites, suffer from low self-esteem, reported the UK’s Telegraph.

Half of the kids surveyed who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media sites suffer from low self-esteem.
Half of the kids surveyed who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media sites suffer from low self-esteem. (Image: Mirko Vitali via Dreamstime)

The Schools and Students Health Education Unit surveyed more than 78,000 primary and secondary students.

Children who spend at least three hours a day on social media have low self-esteem and signs of mental ill-health

David Regis, who conducted the survey, notes that the British kids are under pressure to be more noticeable online, and believes social media is a cause of the children’s feeling bad.

Another report from the Office for National Statistics revealed that 27 percent of British children who spend three hours or more on social media sites show symptoms of mental ill-health.

It also states that social media is “a source of social comparison, cyber bullying, and isolation.”

Dr. Hayley Van Zwanberg, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, said: “Children are totally immersed in a virtual world, which is damaging both to the way they see themselves and the way they perceive the real world; some young children are finding it hard to unpick reality from fantasy.”

“They joke and send photos and videos without truly engaging with people, or truly listening to one another — and they send and make statements without seeing the immediate impact of their comments on the other person,” she said, according to the Telegraph.

Gary Turk made this poetic video Look Up about the effects of social media. It has had over 53 million views, and it’s not just relevant to teenagers, but to all users:

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