The Observer

Social media use connects teens with depression

By Megan Park, Photo Editor

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It’s no secret that social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have a considerable impact on their users. Many of the effects from platforms have been negative, often triggering depression and in extreme cases, suicide.

Depression is on the rise America — and fast. Social media has played massive role in the 37 percent increase in the rate of depression within teens. With constant criticism over activities outside of social norms and massive praise of those within, these standards of what is right and wrong are deteriorating mental health and causing many to never feel good enough and to always strive for “perfection.”

According to a Nov. 22 Chicago Tribune article, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent and the number of 13 to 18-year-olds who committed suicide rose 31 percent.

Anxiety and depression in high school kids have been on the rise since 2012 after several years of stability. CHS students must be reminded that social media is not the whole picture of someone’s life. The problem is that our generation feels the need to post pictures that give the impression of a perfect life. Social media has caused us to live in a world where self-love and affirmation comes in the form of likes and retweets of others instead of love from ourselves.

According to a Nov. 18 Business Insider article, teens who spent five or more hours a day online were 71 percent more likely to have at least one suicide risk factor than those who spent only one hour a day. Overall, suicide risk factors such as depression, impulsivity and mood disorders rose significantly after two or more hours a day of time online.

Social media has created a culture that demands so much of our time and energy, that most of us
do not know how to stop striving for acceptance from others. We are now our own worst enemies because of the way we’ve manipulated our social media presentations, as well as how we allow other presentations to suddenly affect our perspectives on what happiness should be.

According to a Nov. 17 Motherboard article, the years between 2010 and 2017 showed a clear pattern linking screen activities with higher levels of depressive symptoms/suicide-related outcomes and non-screen activities with lower levels. All activities involving screens were associated with higher levels of depression or suicide and suicidal thinking and activities done away from a screen were not.

Social media catalyzes the process of deteriorating mental health. Though there is much remembrance of suicide victims on many platforms, it seems to be only after it’s too late. Only when someone commits suicide is when mental health is suddenly a top priority. Then, just as quickly as the support and remembrance arrives, it’s gone.

A CHS poll of 45 students reveals that 84 percent of students believe that social media has a negative impact on self-confidence and self-image.

According to a Nov. 17 Time Magazine article, in 2015, 36 percent of all teens reported feeling desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about planning or attempting suicide. For girls, the rates were higher — 45 percent in 2015 versus 40 percent in 2009.

Some may say that social media is an outlet for many people to express how they truly feel and many teens are “just fine.” Though that may be the case for some, as pointed out in a study cited in a June 30 Forbes article, the use of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and more is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. The more time that people spend on these sites, the more socially isolated they perceive themselves to be. In fact, perceived social isolation is one of the worst things for us, mentally and physically due to the detrimental effects it has on our body such as depression and constant fatigue.

Though social media has its benefits, such as connecting people from around the world and rekindling old friendships, one should not let it get to a point where one becomes so obsessed with gaining approval and validity from others that they lack authenticity. No matter what “standards” social media places on the world around us, it should not stop us from expressing who we truly are. Self approval and confidence does not come from the digital world, it comes from the real one.

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The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.
Social media use connects teens with depression