The Impact of Social Media on Adolescent Psychology

by Claire Irigoyen

Social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives. From the moment people wake up, they immediately check their social media feed. Recent analytical data reveals we don’t only start our morning this way, but many of us spend a fundamental part of our productive day living vicariously through the experiences of others via their shares, stories, pictures and videos. Of course, I would prefer to be with friends enjoying a sunny day at the beach rather than writing a term paper; however, in reality these comparisons–the need to be somewhere else, to be someone else–can be mentally taxing.

Adolescence and early adulthood is riddled with risk, insecurity, and evolving self-esteem. Successful maturation translates into a well-adjusted, healthy, happy adulthood; however, the challenge to be good enough, pretty enough, and smart enough is magnified by social media. “Adolescents who spent more time on new media (including social media and electronic devices such as smartphones) were more likely to report mental health issues, and adolescents who spent more time on non-screen activities (in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, print media, and attending religious services) were less likely.” (Twenge, Joiner, Rogers, 2017). With the increase in popularity of social media comes a correlated and measurable decrease in activities that have been shown to positively stimulate the impressionable teenage brain–such as sports, reading, and even just face to face conversation with family and friends. Adolescence is a vulnerable time, when the sacrifice of these important activities have the ability to stunt or arrest a teenagers personal and spiritual growth leading to a more difficult adulthood.

Billie Eilish over the course of one year has skyrocketed to position herself on Billboard 100 Top Ten Artists in less than a year in large part due to social media. Listen to her take on the effects of social media and the difference a year can make from 15-years-old to 16-years-old.

Vanity Fair Interview: 34,691,566 views

On Aug. 5, 2018 Lovato broke her silence on social media and wrote a lengthy post about her drug use as well as her commitment to her fans. “I have always been transparent about my journey with addiction. What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet,” she wrote…She has not posted on social media since that note. (10/02/2018) News! by LENA GROSSMAN 

Data and Statistics

Past research has confirmed a correlation exists between anxiety and depression and the amount of time spent on social media.

  • Primack, Shensa, Escobar- Viera, Barret, Sidani, Colditz, and James (2017)
  • Lin, Sidani, Shensa, Radovic, Miller, Colditz, and Primack (2016)
  • Studied relation to social media and depression.

Studies have also shown that social media is correlated with other elements of well- being that are related to anxiety and depression. There is also a significant positive correlation between social networking and low self- esteem.

Addiction, Depression, Anxiety = Social Media????

Drama, Despair, and Depression are symptoms of the impact of Social Media on young adults addicted to social confirmation through these platforms.

There is a positive correlation between time on social media and “fear of missing out”.

Baker and Krieger (2016)

Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) is a social construct that examines whether students are concerned that they are missing out on experiences that others are having, and we examined this relation to their concerns over missing activities in their home culture. (Hertz, Dawson and Cullen, 2015) The Australian Psychological Society studied a large group of teenagers with varied and appreciable social media use to measure the prevalence of the fear of missing out (FOMO). Their research showed teens who checked social media five or more times a day were more susceptible to the malicious effects of FOMO. In addition, this research revealed that 54% of teens expressed a troubling concern that their friends were enjoying a “more rewarding experience” without them. In fact, 6 out of 10 Australian teens “worry” when they perceive their friends are having fun without them. Ultimately, 63% of teens are “bothered” when they miss out on planned meetings with their friends. (Please see their data in info graph below).

This Catalyst Conference Presentation is designed to address the omnipotent nature of social media and its impact on our lives. Studies suggest social media contributes to cyberbullying, depression, and maladaptive coping skills. Juxtaposed to these findings we will utilize this presentation to explore the implications of positive change by raising awareness to establish and promote social platforms for healthy physical and mental health applications. This presentation initially examined the psychological aspects behind social media usage, particularly in teens, to reveal the need to transform this worldwide phenomenon into something that can affect our lives for the better–this goal of this presentation was to illuminate the issue. Let this Catalyst Conference Presentation “The Impact of Social Media on Adolescent Psychology” act as a catalyst for responsible and respectful social media use–a call to action. Together, we can transform social media to serve its true purpose–positive promotion, communication and education.

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  1. April 30, 2019 by Jaren Manivong

    This is a really prevalent topic, especially in our day and age. We are all little celebrities with our own little followings so its really easy to get caught up in what our little followings think of us.

    • April 30, 2019 by Claire Irigoyen

      Thank you Jaren. This presentation was exhaustive but quite informative for me. I have watched as my friends have become obsessed with their social media feed in ways that show significant signs of dependence. I have always been amazed by how quick people pull down pictures when they don’t receive sufficient ‘likes’ or how shamed they feel when an anonymous person criticizes a picture or post. The problem in our generation is growing exponentially, so I was happy for the opportunity to design this presentation. Thank you for your positive feedback, much appreciated.

  2. April 30, 2019 by Claire Irigoyen
    Works Cited for this Presentation

  3. May 03, 2019 by Mia Crum

    Hey Claire! I think this presentation is really relevant and important to what is happening now. Reading this made me think about my 7 year old cousin who is addicted to his ipad, I worry about what his future might end up looking like if he continues this behavior. How can we make this information more geared towards his generation?

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