Social Media and Mental Health among Teenagers

Social Media and Mental Health among Teenagers

Our new Karma blog is about the impact of social media and the Corona Pandemic on young people's mental health.

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in mental illnesses, which have been intensified by the Corona Pandemic. In particular, anxiety and depression have increased by more than 70% in the last 25 years. In addition, adolescents indicated in a survey that the 4 out of 5 most used social media tools made their anxiety worse. Although a positive trend can be noticed, mental health is still often neglected compared to physical health. That's why it's important that we all address the issue and become more open at the same time. Especially when it comes to seeking professional help, because psychologists and psychotherapists are often rejected. Moreover, mental illnesses are often not recognized and are treated with contempt according to the motto "there's no such thing" and are neglected in society


Social Media und Mental Health
Humans are social creatures by nature and strive for meaningful relationships. These have a significant impact on our well-being and help alleviate stress and depression. In addition, they simultaneously raise our self-esteem and fill us with joy. Through the internet, new opportunities have emerged, and relationships have been extended to the digital world. We all remember the beginnings with MSN Messenger and ICQ. The problem, however, is that social relationships can only work their magic (happiness hormones) in "real life". Such relationships, however, need to be nurtured through shared experiences, and unfortunately, a Like and a few DMs aren't enough for that.

Negative effects of social media
When we spend too much time connecting online, we neglect our real-life relationships. As paradoxical as it sounds, social networks do not bring us closer, but estrange us. Excessive use of social networks can cause you to shut off and isolate yourself from the outside world. Just as fulfilling relationships have a positive impact on our well-being, loneliness can have significant mental consequences, such as depression. In her study at the University of Pennsylvania, psychologist Melissa Hunt demonstrated that increased consumption of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook increases feelings of loneliness and depression. Other negative consequences can include sleep disorders, cyberbullying and FOMO (fear of missing out).

Social media has made us more distrustful in general, so we need to become more open again. We've lost some of our social skills, and as a result, some people can no longer have proper conversations, especially with strangers.


Positive aspects of social media
Of course, social media has not only negative effects, but also some positive ones. For example, social media helps us stay in touch with friends and family around the world that we wouldn't otherwise hear much from. In addition to the social factor, entertainment has also played an increasingly important role over time, see YouTube and Twitch. Moreover, Instagram has managed to create a completely new digital industry, offering new opportunities in the world of business. We all know examples of successful companies that have succeeded almost exclusively through their presence on Instagram with the help of good content and collaboration with influencers. So for us, too, Instagram is the most important way to interact and communicate with you.

However, we have to be careful that we don't let younger generations and young people believe that everything they see on Instagram and other social media is real. For example, Instagram is only a small part of an individual's (or company's) life, which largely reflects only positive content, because most people only want to show their best side. However, many people, especially influencers, go too far and use various techniques such as filters or Photoshop to artificially enhance their appearance. This is exactly the problem, because even if we are all aware of it, wrong beauty ideals are still conveyed. For example, 9 out of 10 girls say they are dissatisfied with their bodies. Younger generations in particular allow themselves to be influenced and increasingly suffer from inferiority complexes and feel that their lives are not exciting enough. One thing is for sure though, the life of an influencer also has ups and downs with the big difference that for the most part only the ups make it on Instagram.

What does Corona have to do with all this?
Several studies show that the mental state of children and adolescents worsened during the pandemic. According to the German COPSY study, 71% of children and adolescents felt stressed by the Covid pandemic. This included a doubling of the proportion of adolescents with mental health problems and a worsening of their general health. The abnormalities included increased anxiety, hyperactivity, and problems with peers. Other studies also found an increased number of adolescents with depression.


Social media during the pandemic
When you understand the importance of social relationships, it becomes clear why the mental health of young people has worsened so drastically. Due to the lockdowns, social contacts were extremely limited, and loneliness increased. At the same time, media consumption increased by 4 hours per day, while physical activity decreased by more than 2 hours. Another study examined social media consumption during the pandemic and found that there was a positive correlation between high social media consumption and mental health problems such as a combination of anxiety and depression.


What do we learn from this?
It is important to take mental health seriously, and it should be given at least as much importance in society as physical health. Ironically, social media in particular, contributes to the increased perception of mental health. Here, we want to clarify once again that we do not see social media alone as the main cause, but more as a promoter. With this, we also want to motivate more human relationships that you care about and take a little time off from social media every now and then. In addition, some studies have shown that exercise and sport play a central role in preventing or alleviating psychological AND mental complaints. It's always worth trying new things and meeting new people, but for that we must not be too prejudiced, but open-minded and curious.