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Risk that Teenagers Face from Social Media Exposure and Tips to Keep Them Safe

Social Media’s Risks As we know, social media has taken over all of our lives, and while social media has its benefits, it also comes with risks, especially for its younger users. These risks are oftentimes correlated to frequency of teens use—and how teens use social media also tends to determine its impact.

Social media can negatively affect teens by:

  • Distracting them

  • Disrupting their sleep

  • Exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure.

Also, because of teens' impulsive natures, experts suggest they are at risk of sharing intimate photos or highly personal stories without considering the consequences, including:

  • Bullying

  • Harassment

  • Blackmail

Over the past 10 years, numerous research studies have shown the negative impact that social media can have on younger users:

  1. A 2019 study of more than 6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S. found that those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems.

  2. Another 2019 study of more than 12,000 13- to 16-year-olds in England found that using social media more than three times a day predicted poor mental health and well-being in teens.

  3. A 2016 study of more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use and emotional investment in social media were each linked with worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression.

  4. Research conducted in 2015 determined that social comparison and feedback seeking by teens using social media and cell phones was linked with depressive symptoms.

  5. A small 2013 study revealed that older adolescents who used social media passively, such as by just viewing others' photos, reported declines in life satisfaction, but those who used social media to interact with others, or post their own content, didn't experience these declines.

Everyone knows that social media has risks that come along with it, and now that we have highlighted some of the more serious ones, let’s focus on how to protect the teens that may face these challenges. 4 Tips To Protect Your Students

Inevitably, students will utilize social media. Here are some suggestions for promoting social media in a positive light and teaching students to use it responsibly.

1. Educate about limits

  • Talk to students about setting boundaries between social media and their personal lives. Social media can become time consuming and take away from everyday experiences. Remind students about the important things in life like extracurricular activities, sleep, meals, schoolwork, family, and friends. Educate students about the different features on their devices that allow them to set limits.

2. Explain what's not right

  • Teach students about the advantages and disadvantages of social media. Discourage them from using social media to gossip or to bully. Remind them that social media is to be used in a positive manner.

3. Talk about social media

  • Talk about how social media can be unrealistic. Describe your own social media use. Highlight current events that are prominent in social media. Talk about how social media makes students feel. Social media is a large part of teens' lives today and it is important to encourage healthy discussion surrounding it.

4. Create face-to-face interaction

  • Social anxiety is a negative side effect of extensive use of social media. Encourage social interaction between students without technology.

Works Cited

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