In the current digital age, the Internet has become a source of information and personal connections. Through the increased use of social media, people are able to communicate with others at the touch of a screen. As opposed to earlier generations, the heightened use and dependence on digital technology has altered how young people interact and develop socially.
One in three internet users is younger than 18 years old, and because teens today have more access to the Internet than their predecessors, they also have more opportunity to succeed. They have a higher chance of breaking intergenerational cycles of trauma, including mental illness and poverty, and can access information about their health, safety and rights. They also are able to enhance their social skills by communicating with others and sharing new ideas and perspectives. Unfortunately, those communications are not always positive interactions.
Teens are more susceptible to the dangers of digital technology. As young people, they are more vulnerable to online offenders and cyberbullies who target and exploit them. However, not all the dangers are as long-established as cyberbullying. These days, a competitive culture has evolved around social media, and with it an increased tendency to post only impressive and accomplished content. Internet influencers base their careers on filtering and minimizing visible flaws, which can affect a viewer’s personal body image and sense of contentment.
The addictive nature of social media inclines the user to seek constant updates. Regularly checking notifications or news feeds for announcements, comments or likes can create a dependency on social media apps. It’s important to balance social media use with active, in-person friendships to avoid being consumed by the pressures and potential mental health issues that can arise. The accompanying guide offers more tips on how teens can use social media in a healthy way.