Social media is such a common and common element that if there were psychological issues with using it, we would have noticed it for some time.
However, it is true that in some cases, they can facilitate the emergence of behavioral patterns that harm mental health, especially in the population that uses them the most: adolescents. This means that if the mere fact that a young person regularly uses digital platforms like Instagram or Tik Tok should not be of concern to us, there is some probability that through this habit dysfunctional behaviors will start to develop and poor management of problems. emotions linked to important aspects: self-esteem, how to interact with others, how to feel part of a group, etc.
In this article we will see a summary of several warning signs to detect when a teenager is abusing social media.
Signs that a teenager is misusing social media
While it should be noted that each case is unique, these are patterns of behavior that often indicate the presence of dysfunctional ways of using social media by adolescents.
1. Permanently manage your public image on the Internet
Self-esteem issues are relatively common among adolescents. And it is that at the stage of adolescence, it coincides with a moment when it appears difficult to adapt to some of the proper roles of adulthood, on the one hand, and at the same time has not the experience and psychological maturity to do it smoothly and autonomously, on the other hand.
The result is a feeling of almost constant tension between what is done and what one feels that the environment demands, and in this sense, the canons of beauty and fashion trends are a source of very strong pressure. social on adolescents., Since at this stage great importance is placed on the approval of peers (i.e. people of the same age).
This is why some adolescents, and in particular them, they are obsessed with hiding what they consider to be physical imperfections and showing their side more in line with current aesthetic codes. This can lead to spending several hours a week editing or choosing photos to post, for example.
2. Use social media “by default”
The mechanisms on which social media operate make us constantly bombard with new content, second by second; In addition, they are virtual environments easily accessible by simply taking your smartphone out of your pocket, and much of the social life of adolescents takes place on the internet because all the other boys and girls are there almost all the time.
As a result, many adolescents find that every minute they spend without being exposed to a source of stimulus comparable to this is a waste of time, and they feel the need to dive into the screen when they are not. another activity incompatible with this one: sitting at a table to eat with the family, go to the bathroom, etc. This impoverishes their development and can also lead to disorders for the simple fact of always submitting to the same kind of stimuli and leading a sedentary life.
3. Manage your sadness or anxiety with the “scroll”
The propensity to feel lonely is an aspect that affects many adolescents, due to several factors: the fear of showing their vulnerabilities to the feeling that everything is overwhelming them, the idea that others may make fun of them, and even indecision on how they should express their feelings because they have doubts about their identity.
This is why many young people tend to isolate themselves when they feel bad, not because they think it is what they need, but because they see no other possible option in such a situation. And getting into social media and making passive use of it (constantly scrolling to see the latest updates of what people are posting) seems to be a running habit among many teens going through this. This is an easy action to perform and does not include the complexity of having to examine or verbalize your emotions and feelings and deal with them, so it is problematic as it does not facilitate psychological maturation.
4. Direct the search for experiences to what can earn them “likes”
This pattern of behavior can even lead to dangerous situations, or to the frustration of investing too much time but at the same time do not want to stop receiving this external validation.
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- Karim, F .; Oyewande, AA; Abdalla, LF; Ehsanullah, RC; Khan, S. (2020). Social media use and its link to mental health: a systematic review. Cureus, 12 (6): e8627.
- Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networks and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 17 (10), 652-657.
- Odgers, CL; Jensen, MR (2020). Adolescent Mental Health in the Digital Age: Facts, Fears and Future Directions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61: pages 336-348.
- Spies Shapiro, LA and Margolin, G. (2014). Growing Up Through Cable: Social Networking Sites and Psychosocial Development for Adolescents. Clinical Journal of Child and Family Psychology, 17 (1): pages 1-18.