Social media Sydney has become a ubiquitous part of our lives, and it’s easy to forget that the majority of social media users are not adults. In fact, according to Pew Research Center data from 2015, 78% of teens have access to smartphones or tablets and they spend more than an hour per day on these devices. With such high prevalence rates among young people, it’s important for parents and caregivers alike to know how social media use may affect their children’s development.
Exposure to positive representations of peers and celebrities
Research suggests that exposure to positive representations of peers and celebrities can be a source of inspiration, motivation and guidance. In one study, researchers asked participants to view images of popular figures (celebrities) before taking an IQ test. The results indicated that those who were exposed to the images performed better on the test than those who did not receive such exposure (Aronoff et al., 2015).
In another study conducted by Zimman et al., 2014), researchers found that adolescents who viewed more positive content on social media were more likely than their peers who viewed less positive content or no social media at all had higher self-esteem levels as well as greater body satisfaction.
Increased risk of anxiety and depression
Social media can be a source of stress and anxiety. If you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, it may make you feel worse about yourself. This is especially true for young people who are still developing their sense of identity and self-esteem.
If your child uses social media often, talk with him or her about how to use it responsibly. Set rules for how much time he or she can spend on social media each day, and encourage him or her not to post photos that show personal information like where he lives or what school he goes to (see Tips for Parents).
Interacting with Social Media can lead to increased body image concerns, lower self-esteem and worsened mental health.
Social media can be a source of negative body image, lower self-esteem and worsened mental health.
Studies have shown that social media use is linked to lower self-esteem and increased body image concerns.
In addition, research has shown that those who use Facebook frequently are more likely to feel depressed or anxious than those who do not use Facebook at all. This may be because people tend to present themselves in an idealized way on social media; their lives look better than they actually are because they’re only posting what they want others see–the good parts of their lives (which might not always be true).
Childhood Obesity is on the rise, but social media exposure may also be contributing to this epidemic.
- Social media use is linked to higher BMI in children.
- Children who spend more time on social media are more likely to be obese, according to researchers from the University of Liverpool in England.
- The study found that kids who spent five or more hours on their phones each day had an average BMI score of 28.7–overweight or obese–compared with 25.9 for those who spent less than one hour on their devices daily.
- Kids should get at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity (and ideally up to 90 minutes). However, most American children don’t get enough exercise and miss out on important health benefits like better sleep, improved moods and higher self-esteem as well as lower risk of heart disease later in life.*
Social media addiction has been shown to be addictive in the same way that addictive substances are, resulting in withdrawal and a cycle of relapse.
Social media addiction is a real condition that can affect anyone. Studies have shown that social media addiction is similar to substance abuse in that it results in withdrawal and a cycle of relapse.
The negative effects of social media exposure on child development include:
- Increased rates of depression and anxiety, which may lead to self-harm or suicide
- Weight gain and obesity (it’s easier to eat unhealthy foods when they’re right at your fingertips)
- Addiction to other substances (like drugs or alcohol)
There are many negative effects of social media on kids
Social media can be addictive, and children who use social media frequently are more likely to experience negative effects than those who don’t.
Children who spend more than two hours on a device each day are three times as likely to be depressed, according to one study. Another study found that teens who spent at least six hours per day on their phones were twice as likely to suffer from anxiety or depression than those who spent less time on their phones.
Social media also affects body image concerns in children by making them feel dissatisfied with their own bodies when they compare themselves negatively against what they see online. One study found that girls aged 10-17 years who engage in frequent Instagram use were 2.5 times more likely than non-users (or occasional users) of Instagram to have eating disorders and 15% higher odds of developing bulimia nervosa symptoms over 12 months’ follow-up period compared with non/occasional users respectively . Exposure also increases the risk of obesity among adolescents .
The bottom line is that social media is not a good thing for kids. It can cause them to feel bad about themselves, it can be addictive and even lead to addiction in the same way that drugs or alcohol are addictive. Social media exposure should be limited as much as possible and parents should monitor what their children are doing online at all times so that they can protect them from these dangers.