Depression: Social Isolation Increased by Social Media
While most adults today grew up before cell phones and the internet existed, the younger generations are learning about the world from behind a screen. Adolescence has always been an important time for developing key social skills, but as today’s youth does more interacting online than face-to-face, they are experiencing a new kind of socialization with different consequences, such as depression. With 75% of teens having cell phones and 20% of teens experiencing depression, it is important to know the role of social media usage.
The internet’s over-sharing culture easily creates an environment for inaccurate social comparison, which can create low self esteem. Social media users emphasize the positive while hiding the negative, creating an illusion that their lives are “perfect.” While a teen sees every good and bad detail of her own life, she is being bombarded by positive details from her friends’ lives. She is essentially comparing her behind-the-scenes footage with everyone else’s highlight reel. It can be difficult for adults to realize that these comparisons are unfair, so teens fall victim to the illusion because they don’t realize they aren’t getting the full picture. A teen obsessing over her friend’s “perfect” profile could start to feel that her own life is inadequate. Multiply this by the hundreds of friends’ profiles she accesses, and low self-esteem and depression become a concern.
Texting provides users with a sense of security because it lacks the personal aspects of face-to-face communication, resulting in more negative social interactions. When arguing in person, teens experience nonverbal cues that guide them as they try to express their feelings without damaging their relationships. Texting is much less personal, so it is much easier for teens to be cruel without regard for the consequences. As a result, teens end up texting things they would never say in person, causing irreparable damage in the process. If a teen says something cruel in a face-to-face interaction, it would be near impossible not to deal with his friend’s reaction – he can’t just walk away after making his friend cry. Since digital communication is so impersonal, even if his friend does express his reaction to the cruel words, it is extremely easy for the teen to simply ignore the messages and stop responding. For the victim of the cruelty, this can be devastating. The lack of communication can lead to confusion regarding the appropriateness of their reaction and their relationship with the sender, leaving them wondering if the sender really meant the words and whether or not they are still friends. Negative social interactions and loss of friends are both major contributors to the development of depression in adolescents, and these can both be facilitated by social media and texting.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.
By: Evagelia Stavrakis