Social Media and Anxiety: Does Teen Social Media Use Impact Mental Health?

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Teens are often the primary users of social media platforms. While social media can be useful for staying in touch with family and friends, it can also increase risk of overexposure to stressors, such as cyberbullying or negative posts and comments, that contribute to anxiety or depression. According to one poll from, 67% of Massachusetts readers think that social media should have restrictions for teens.

What Percentage of Teens Use Social Media?

Across social media platforms, teens are often the primary users. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, 97% of teens age 13-17 use the Internet daily. This puts them at risk of overexposure to negativity through these online programs that could exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. Social media use does not always cause symptoms of anxiety and depression in teens, nor does it always contribute to mental health struggles. However, the higher the usage of social media is for teens, the more it puts them at risk. If you are concerned about your child’s social media usage and its link to your child’s mental health, it may be time to talk with a mental health professional.

How Social Media Causes Anxiety

Social media use can overstimulate the brain and trigger feelings comparable to addiction. Through constant usage, teens may experience worsening feelings of anxiety or depression because of things that they see online. Some ways in which social media can trigger anxiety include fear of missing out, comparison to their peers, isolation from others, and anxiety caused by procrastination.

Fear of Missing Out

Social media platforms allow friends and family to share their daily lives with one another. They can share photos, videos, and posts about events they went to, vacations they recently took, or other recent experiences. Seeing too many experiences that friends, family, and peers have recently shared could cause teens to experience anxiousness over the fear of missing out on these experiences. If there are events coming up, teens may feel more pressure to attend, as they know others will be posting and talking about that event. With that also comes the pressure to keep up with things that are happening, leading to further social media usage.


Most times, social media users share exciting or positive things that have happened to them. This can include accomplishments, life milestones, and other major personal news. Overexposure to this could put your teen at risk of the constant need to compare themselves to those that they see on social media. However, oftentimes, social media posts can be highlights of someone’s life or achievements, as opposed to reflecting the whole picture. This can lead to false expectations of how others are living their lives.


Because social media users like to share photos and videos with friends and family, there are oftentimes an abundance of shared posts that involve multiple people experiencing something together. For teens, especially teens with a smaller group of close friends and family, this can lead to feelings of isolation. They may experience a sensation of loneliness seeing others sharing experiences together, while they can only see those experiences through social media.


Social media can be addictive to scroll through. Scrolling through social media can release dopamine, a chemical in the brain that releases pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. Because of these positive feelings, social media users are motivated to continue staying on the platform, so they can continue to experience these feelings. However, this can lead teens to experience anxiousness due to procrastination. Constant scrolling could cause them to put off homework, academics, chores, and even other extracurricular activities.

Tips on Social Media Safety for Teens

If you are concerned about how your teen’s social media usage is impacting their mental health, it may be time to seek help. There are also some ways to combat social media’s influence on anxiety while home, including:

  • Avoid scrolling social media while going to bed
  • Dedicate only a certain amount of time per day to using social media
  • Encourage your teen to communicate their feelings and emotions regularly
  • Monitor changes in behavior and mood

If your child is suffering from anxiety, there are plenty of treatment programs available to help them develop coping skills for their mental health. Anxiety treatment programs provide your child with a safe place to express emotions and feelings to a mental health professional who can teach them how to cope.  

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