Kids Safety 101
unhappy girl looking at smartphone

Is Heavy Social Media Use Making Your Child Depressed?

As a parent, you’ve likely considered the negative consequences of heavy social media use.

Was depression one of your concerns?

Studies Are Showing a Link Between Social Media Use and Depression Among Kids

Evidence is mounting. Studies are showing a strong link between social media and depression.

In fact, several recent studies showed that teens and young adults who spent the most time on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms were shown to have a substantially higher rate — from 13 to 66 percent — of reported depression.

Of course, we need to ask if social media is actually causing depression. After all, these studies so far are showing a correlation, but not necessarily causation.

However, it’s definitely worth a serious look at how these platforms are affecting our kids negatively. It seems more than just correlation, when you start looking at how the increase in depression occurred in tandem with the rise in smartphone use.

Lack of Deep Connections in the Digital World

Kids these days spend much less time connecting with their peers in person, as compared to generations before them. Instead, they spend more time connecting electronically, largely through social media.

Some experts see the rise in depression among youth as evidence that the connections social media users form are less emotionally satisfying than the traditional face-to-face connections. It leaves people feeling socially isolated, despite having access to more connections than ever before.

Is it a case of quantity versus quality?

Social media doesn’t often lead to deep, empathic connections. Instead, it’s more superficial, and is less likely to make us feel less connected. That means that our kids aren’t really getting the true benefits of social interaction through social media.

Social Media Forces Unfair Comparisons

Pair that with the way social media tends to demolish self-esteem, particularly in teenage girls.

Social media often forces users to compare themselves with artfully curated images — essentially a fake existence that someone else has carefully constructed of themselves. Most users tend to only post the best, most perfect moments.

Our kids then compare their regular, daily lives to those images, whom they perceive to be people who are prettier, thinner, more popular, and richer.

Those celebrities and influencers that our kids are following have teams of makeup and hair artists, Photoshop pros, and other experts.

It’s not real life, but it doesn’t stop our kids from comparing themselves. It’s unhealthy, and it’s leading our kids to feel inadequate, anxious, and depressed.

Is Social Media Affecting Kids Negatively? Absolutely

So, while we don’t have the conclusive evidence that social media use isĀ causing depression, I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s affecting our kids negatively. We’re all staring at the warning signs.

As a parent, it’s important to check in regularly with your kids about their social media use. Make sure it’s positive and healthy, and guide them towards ways to change that if you think it’s not.

Stay alert on the symptoms of depression. And if you notice signs that your child might be depressed, always take them seriously. Don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with a mental health provider.

Kat Sweet