Social Media and Adolescents: What Are the Health Risks?
Primary care providers should screen for depression and other health-related risks associated with the use of social media by adolescents.
Social media use has become increasingly popular among teens and adolescents during the past decade. Technologic advancements have led to an increase in Internet use and virtual communication through computers, cellphones, and tablets. The prevalence of social media use is leading to an increased understanding of the risks associated with it.1 According to Lenhart, about 92% of teens state that they use the Internet daily, and 71% use at least 2 different types of social media sites.2
Social media sites can be defined as online communities that allow an individual to create a profile in which they can view and communicate with others. Examples of social media sites include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Myspace, and Snapchat.3
With the increased use of social media, parents worry that their children are spending too much time on social media and are having less interaction with school and family.3 Overuse of social media can have negative consequences on the well-being of adolescents. Social media use has been linked to lower self-esteem, increased depression, risk-taking behavior, and cyberbullying.4 According to Bhagat,5 social media use is associated with psychosocial problems and can be even worse for an individual who is already predisposed to depression, anxiety, or mental illness.
The use of social media continues to increase among adolescents, who may not be aware of what it exposes them to or the influence it may have on their well-being/self-esteem.4 The purpose of this systematic review is to explore the recent literature and research on how the use of social media affects the well-being/self-esteem of adolescents.
Social media: a literature search
A literature search for studies was conducted using online databases: CINAHL, ERIC, and PsychInfo. Search terms used in multiple combinations included: social media, social network, adolescents, youth, well-being, self-esteem, mental health, depression, and cyberbullying. All articles included in the search reflected the population of adolescents and the intervention of social media/social networking. Studies that encompassed the effects of social media on the well-being/self-esteem of adolescents were included. Well-being/self-esteem was measured by accounts of depression, cyberbullying, self-esteem, anxiety, sleep quality, and body image.
The literature search yielded 236 results. The search was further narrowed to include only high-evidence, peer-reviewed articles published in English, limited to the adolescent age group of 13 to 18 years. All articles from 2012 to present were included, and all articles that identified college students were excluded, yielding 133 results. The abstracts of these articles were reviewed to identify relevant research studies and systematic reviews, which resulted in 7 articles that are presented in this review.