The Royal Society for Public Health

The Royal Society for Public Health conducted a survey and asked 14-24 year-olds how Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook impact their self-esteem. The results showed that teens think social media increases their level of depression, poor body image, loneliness, and anxiety (Ehmke 1). Another survey I found resulted similarly. Lake Forest High School conducted a poll and found that “60 percent of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way” (Sklarov 1). If teens are using social media almost every day, and it is affecting their feelings negatively that could harm their mental health. Many teens spend hours on social media working on their posts to boost their self-esteem (“Teens” 1). As a teen, I myself spend much time on social media posting and talking to my friends. Many teens attempt a perfect post every time for their Instagram. First, they may take ten pictures or more to achieve the perfect one. I can validate this because I know I retake my selfies numerous times. I do not even realize how much time I am actually spending on just taking a photo of myself. Many teens spend a bunch of time on angles, lighting, and background just to make an Instagram post that will receive an abundance of likes or validation (Sklarov, 2). Next, comes the editing to reduce flaws or blemishes. People will edit out their beauty marks, acne, and even body fat just to make themselves look perfect online. A popular editing trend is whitening teeth in photos when really no one’s teeth can look that white. The screen time increases when teens scroll through filters debating on the perfect one. Some teens even send their photos to their friends to gain their validation first. Teens also stress about finding a clever caption to go with their post. Another factor is posting at certain times of the day that will produce the most likes and attention. And if the post does not receive enough likes then the post may be taken down to restart the process of posting the perfect photo with new editing (“Confessions” 1). All this work for one post and that is often repeated many times. Obsessing over appearance for social media can cause teens to find more bad qualities about themselves than praising their good ones. This negative effect on self-esteem can lead to bullying others, self-harm or worse (Sklarov 1). Teens stress over trying to look perfect for their peers instead of pleasing themselves. Teens’ obsession with online validation and overuse of social media often harms their mental health by negatively affecting their self-esteem.
One way teens’ mental health is affected is by believing they need online validation to boost their self-esteem. Social media affects peoples’ mental health when they do not recieve the number of likes they want. Teens need this online validation from others just to feel good about themselves. An article wrote by Sarah Marsh, collected teens’ views on how Instagram affects their self-esteem. One comment was that some girls send out a message to ‘go like their new picture’. Teens’ send out these messages begging for more likes or they may delete the post if it does not receive a high number (Marsh 2, “Confessions” 1). This hurts self-esteem because teens are not happy with their own appearances. It can also cause anxiety about their image or popularity which harms their mental health. Society has made them think they are not beautiful without popularity or hundreds of likes (Marsh 2, Sklarov 1). Some teens struggle with loving themselves and being happy with their image. Social media does not help self-esteem when brands use photoshopped models that look perfect. It gives the impression that teens need to edit their images to think they are beautiful. It is sad that people go to great lengths to make themselves look better online for the approval of others. No one wants to post a bad photo of themselves, but teens’ mental health should not be decreasing due to this stress. Teens use photoshop to post their best selves when in reality they do not look the same. Teens may also believe they have to look like their edits all the time which causes more stress and maybe impossible (Marsh 1). This is possibly due to the fact that teens compare themselves to celebrities and models. In actuality, celebrities and models pay money to make themselves look better and are setting unrealistic standards for women (Marsh 1). This hurts the teen’s self-esteem when they are jealous of a model that was edited to look perfect. Teens do not only compare themselves to models but their peers (Ehmke 1). This makes teens question why they are not as pretty or skinny as them. Teens’ mental health is being hurt when they are not happy with their appearance the way it is because of society’s standards. Teens struggling with self-esteem should not spend time comparing their images to others on social media because it can damage their mental health.
Spending too much time on social media can affect teens’ mental health negatively. Teens spend a great deal of time obsessing over social media when they could spend that time positively. They could spend their time learning or boosting others online (“Teens” 1). Teens spend too much time on social media that they begin to obsess over appearance and grow jealous of others. Jealousy and online anonymity can lead to cyberbullying to make teens feel better about themselves. This can really affect teens’ mental health negatively. Teens may also play the opposite game of commenting on others’ posts and hope they comment back on theirs. This does not create meaningful relationships between teens. Playing this game can hurt mental health by thinking too much and wondering why people are not returning likes or comments. Bullying and worrying too much about online validation can create depression and unnecessary stress (“Confessions” 1). Worsening conditions of mental health can lead to self-harm or even suicide (“Teens” 1). Teens may not love themselves due to the fact that they never recieve enough likes. Comparing appearance to others may hurt self-esteem and even make the teen feel self-conscious about their bodies or appearance. Increasing screen-time can hurt teens’ social interactions and face-to-face communication. Low self-esteem can affect motivation to do daily tasks, such as leaving the house and basic interactions with those around them. Obsession with social media can hurt more than self-esteem such as daily tasks and verbal communication.
Obsession with social media validation can hurt us as a society. This will also give our generation a bad reputation because we rely on social media to make us feel good about ourselves. When social media affects teens’ self-esteem, it can prove to be not good for mental health. Social media can cause teens to think negatively, become depressed, and worsen face-to-face communication. With low self-esteem from social media, obsession can worsen verbal communication and confidence. With teens being skilled in technology, it is easy to cyberbully someone anonymously. Cyberbullying not only means the victim’s self-esteem is hurt, but the bullies’ is also because they are jealous or hurt. Social media makes it quite easy to damage our self-esteem (“Teens” 1). Time away from social media is good to remember to love yourself for who you are. Obsessing over online validation from peers or strangers can become dangerous to mental health and well being.
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