At Lakeside, we are asked to help increased numbers of students who are depressed and anxious. There are many reasons for anxiety and depression. A recent study shows that one contributor to depression could be the extent of social media that our students consume on a daily basis.
Students are constantly seeking to follow the activities and opinions of their friends. They also can be watching their favorite social media event or any other curious interests. In and of themselves these are not necessarily bad things but the constant consumption of them seems to have emotional outcomes that may not be healthy.
It makes sense that the more we live in the virtual world, the less we live in the world of real relationships. I know some students feel that these relationships are just as real but the virtual world can lead to some very negative effects. Comparison with others, an inauthentic fantasy world and the constancy of drowning in social media can all lead to overall depression, anxiety and other destructive emotions.
This recent study by the University College of London suggests that “there is a negative association between screen time and mental well-being.”
Here is the link to a summary of the study:
I recognize that it is very hard to control the amount of screen time that our students consume. It is very addicting even for adults. However, parents should be encouraging more relationships with friends and family members in “real time” and with those relationships that have the normal characteristics of communication, enjoying mutual activities and sharing of life experiences.
We often fear the cyber-bullying aspect of the internet. It is a destructive and legitimate fear.
However, some effects of social media are less obvious and a subtle emotional influencer. Depending on the personalities and specific interests of a student it can have a variety of effects including depression, anxiety, isolation and lack of self-esteem. Parents and caregivers should monitor the amount of time our kids are on-screen daily and work to create much more healthy family- and friend-time for our teenagers. It can be a great counter-balance to today’s social media impact that may not be healthy for our young people.