Over the past decade, social media has developed significantly and has successfully become an integral part of the life of at least half of the world’s population. It can be said that it happened too quickly. One of the negative consequences of such a rapid integration was the increased frequency of mental problems in different age groups. Teenagers have become one of the most vulnerable groups (San Diego State University, 2017). This paper aims to examine the relationship between social media and depression in adolescents.
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Defining Depression and Social Media
Phenomena such as social media and depression need to be defined to continue the discussion about the link between these two in adolescents during the social-emotional stage of life. According to Nittle (2020), “clinical depression or major depressive disorder is a mood disorder characterized by ongoing feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities that an individual once enjoyed” (para. 3). Depression has several stages, which are mild, moderate, and severe. This disorder contributes to the development of other conditions that significantly complicate people’s lives and even lead to suicide. Experts argue that “social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks” (Social media overview, n.d., para. 1). Notable examples of large and active social media in the Western Hemisphere are Facebook and YouTube.
Social Media as a Driver of Depression
The question is how and why social media leads to depression in adolescents. The answer is that teens are too exposed to other people’s lives on social media. People share the best and saddest moments of their lives on social media. Photos and videos of friends, idols, and role models traveling to other countries, attending concerts, or going to the cinema can cause feelings of envy and sadness instead of joy in adolescents, an overly emotional population group (Nittle, 2020). Social media is also a place where one’s exes are also present (Nittle, 2020). Observing an ex’s flow of life can be especially painful for teens, as teen years are the times when adolescents are first introduced to feelings of romantic love due to rapid and broad physical and mental changes in them. Therefore, one can safely say that the relationship between social media and depression in adolescents is not only correlative but also causative.
The Symptoms and Effects of Depression Caused by Social Media
The symptoms and adverse effects of depression caused primarily by social media do not differ much from the basic related conditions described by psychologists. These include headaches, weakness, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, poor decision-making, trouble sleeping and eating, and suicidal tendencies (Nittle, 2020). A unique adverse effect is the feeling of missing out (FOMO) (Nittle, 2020). It is due to the fact that people and especially adolescents, devote too much of their time to social media.
This paper explores how social media causes depression in adolescents during the social-emotional stage of life. It has been found that depression is driven primarily by the fact that adolescents, being overly emotional, are exposed to the best and most tragic moments in other people’s lives. It creates feelings such as sadness, envy, and FOMO in them. The combination of these conditions eventually leads to the development of depression in adolescents.
Nittle, N. (2020). How does social media play a role in depression? Verywell Mind. Web.
San Diego State University. (2017). Screen time might boost depression, suicide behaviors in teens. EurekAlert! Web.
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Social media overview. (n.d.). Tufts University. Web.