They have been verified as digital tools for development owing to the roles they play in swift information dissemination and digital promotion; as lofty as these roles of social media appear, scientists have found some faults in their usage with teenagers, as they have warned that constant use of social media increases the risk of mental health challenge in children.
The recent findings on social media usage made by researchers from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, United Kingdom, stated that repeated usage of social media expose teenagers to cyber-bullying and harm sleep.
The survey revealed that 94 percent of teens go online everyday in order to use multiple social media platforms, which include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter etc.
The findings published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health showed that heavy social media consumption can possibly lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. It also added that social media are a major distraction for students and lead to poor academic performance.
The New York Times, disclosed that kids from ages eight to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day on electronic devices. This has led to teens receiving insufficient sleep, which can further lead to developing a myriad of mental health, issues such anxiety and increased irritability.
“Checking various social media platforms weekly means the risk of suffering “psychological distress” is up to 20 percent. Logging in as little as four times a day can raise the danger by half again”, the study of more than 10,000 children shows.
The study showed that teenage girls who check Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter weekly have a 20 percent risk of psychological distress. But for those logging on frequently four times a day or more, the risk increases to 28 percent, a rise of 40 percent.
Boys on social media irregularly have a ten percent risk of suffering mental health issues. But it rose to 15 percent in those who logged on several times a day.
With half of all mental illness starting before the age of 14, Dr Louise Theodosiou, Consultant Adolescent Psychiatrist from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said social media giants must do more to protect kids.
According to the Sun UK, Theodosiou said: “We’ve seen a worrying rise in low mood and depression among girls and young women in recent years. This paper helps our understanding of the link between social media use and mental health problems.”
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University, explained that human brains enter into a state of relaxation and rest when it become absorbed in an activity.
He added that our brains shift to alpha waves and this flow, as it is called, has been linked to learning and talent development. “Stopping to take photos and make posts disrupts this flow,” Csikszentmihalyi warned.