Being connected through smartphones and social media is now just a part of growing up for many children and adolescents. Most of them have positive experiences online, but there are risks involved, including whether the excessive use of social media can ultimately harm their mental health. Research in this area is still in its early stages, but the significance of social media in the lives of many young people is clear. It is no secret that social media platforms were deliberately designed to hold users' attention as long as possible, tapping into psychological biases and vulnerabilities relating to our desire for validation and fear of rejection. More evidence is necessary before we can consider these findings conclusive.
This is especially true with teen girls because they are comparing themselves with a flock of celebrities, photoshopped to appear thinner, prettier, and rich. This, in turn, makes them feel more isolated. It is common for teenagers to do tasks that require concentration, such as schoolwork, while simultaneously interacting on social media with friends. Many are even proud of being able to multitask. However, this constant disruption is actually making attention issues worse and reducing learning and performance.
Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Photos: How social media affects the teenage brain. Researchers at UCLA's Brain Mapping Center found that when teenagers' photos get lots of "likes" on social media apps, such as Instagram, their brains respond in a similar way to seeing loved ones or winning money.
Researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute OII , part of the University of Oxford, used an eight-year survey of UK households Understanding Society, part of the UK Household Longitudinal Study to study how long teenagers spent using social media on a normal school day and their corresponding life satisfaction ratings. This is the first large-scale and in-depth study testing not only whether adolescents who report more social media use have lower life satisfaction but also whether the reverse is true. Before this study scientists had little means of disentangling whether adolescents with lower life satisfaction use more social media or whether social media use leads to lower life satisfaction. The current research has used improved data and statistical approaches and found most links between life satisfaction and social media use were trivial. Yet there were some bidirectional effects: Lower life satisfaction led to increased social media use and vice versa.