4 signs that your teenager is misusing social networks
These are the main warning signs of teenagers using social networks.
Social networks are such a frequent and habitual element that, if their use were to produce psychological problems, we would have noticed it long ago.
However, it is true that in some cases, they can facilitate the emergence of behavioral patterns that damage mental health, especially in the population that uses them the most: adolescents. This means that although the simple fact that a young person uses digital platforms such as Instagram or Tik Tok on a regular basis is nothing to worry about, there are certain probabilities that through this habit, dysfunctional behaviors and poor management of emotions linked to important aspects begin to develop: self-esteem, how to relate to others, how to feel part of a group, etc.
In this article we will see a summary of several warning signs to know how to detect when a teenager is misusing social networks..
Signs that indicate that a teenager is using social networks inappropriately
Although it should be noted that each case is unique, these are some patterns of behavior that often indicate the presence of dysfunctional ways of using social networks by adolescents.
1. Constantly managing their public image on the Internet
Self-esteem problems are relatively common in adolescents.. The fact is that adolescence coincides with a time when there is a challenge to adapt to some of the roles of adulthood, on the one hand, and at the same time one does not have the experience and psychological maturity to do so smoothly and autonomously, on the other.
The result is a feeling of almost constant tension between what one does and what one feels the environment demands, and in this sense, beauty standards and fashion trends are a source of very strong social pressure on adolescents, since at this stage much importance is given to the approval of peers (i.e. people of the same age).
That is why some teenagers, and especially them, are obsessed with hiding what they consider physical imperfections and showing their facet more in accordance with the current aesthetic codes.. This can lead to spending several hours a week editing or choosing photos to publish, for example.
2. Using social networks "by default".
The mechanics on which social networks work mean that we are constantly bombarded with new content, second by second; moreover, they are virtual environments easily accessible by simply taking out your smartphone from your pocket, and much of teenagers' social life takes place on the Internet, because all the other kids and because all the other boys and girls are there almost all the time.
As a result, many adolescents come to feel that every minute they spend without being exposed to a source of stimuli comparable to this is time wasted, and feel the need to immerse themselves in the screen when they are not doing another activity incompatible with it: sitting at the table to eat with their family, going to the bathroom, etc. This impoverishes their development and can also lead to disorders due to the simple fact of always being by the simple fact of always being subjected to the same type of stimuli and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
3. Manage their sadness or anxiety with the "scroll".
The propensity to feel lonely is an aspect that affects many adolescents, due to several factors: the fear of showing their vulnerabilities before the feeling that everything is beyond them, the idea that others may make fun of them, and even indecision about how they should express their feelings because they have doubts about their identity.
Many young people tend to isolate themselves when they feel bad, not because they think that's what they need, but because they don't see other possible options in such a situation. they do not see other possible options in such a situation. And entering social networks and making passive use of them (constant scrolling to see the latest updates of what people are posting) seems to be a recurring habit in many teenagers going through this. This is a simple action to do and does not include the complexity of having to examine or verbalize their emotions and feelings and having to manage them, so it is problematic because it does not facilitate psychological maturation.
4. Directing their search for experiences to what can earn them "likes".
This pattern of behavior can even lead them to put themselves in dangerous situations, or to generate frustration by investing too much time in it but at the same time not wanting to stop receiving that external validation.
Looking for professional psychological support?
If you are interested in having counseling or psychotherapy services for people of all ages, we invite you to contact us. At Avance Psychologists we have been working for 20 years in the field of psychological assistance, and we currently offer child and adult therapy, as well as neuropsychology, speech therapy and psychiatry services. In addition, sessions can be face-to-face (in our center located in the Goya neighborhood of Madrid) or online, via video call. Our contact details are available on this page.
- Karim, F.; Oyewande, A.A.; Abdalla, L.F.; Ehsanullah, R.C.; Khan, S. (2020). Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review. Cureus, 12(6): e8627.
- Pantic, I. (2014). Online Social Networking and Mental Health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 17(10), 652 - 657.
- Odgers, C.L.; Jensen, M.R. (2020). Adolescent mental health in the digital age: facts, fears, and future directions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61: pp. 336 - 348.
- Spies Shapiro, L.A. & Margolin, G. (2014). Growing Up Wired: Social Networking Sites and Adolescent Psychosocial Development. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 17(1): pp. 1 - 18.