L & B Counseling

Scrolling Through the Teenage Years: Navigating Social Media and Adolescence

teenagers and social media

The impact of technology on kids and teens development has not been studied long enough to know the real side effects. We do know that teen suicides and mental health issues are at an all time high today for teens. With the integration of social media and text messaging in teenage life, concerns arise that such technologies are contributing to lower self-esteem and increased anxiety. In a survey by the Royal Society for Public Health, 14-24 year olds in the UK reported negative impacts on their mental health and wellbeing from platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, including depression, anxiety, poor body image, and loneliness.

Lose or lack of communication skills

Does it seem like your teen is always “busy” on their phones, texting, sharing, trolling, scrolling? Back in the day before everyone had an Instagram account, teens still kept busy, but they were more likely to chat on the phone or hang out at the mall. It might have looked like they were just wasting time, but they were actually experimenting, trying out new things, and experiencing both success and failure in countless little face-to-face interactions that today’s kids are missing out on. Nowadays, teens are learning to communicate mostly through a screen instead of in person, which is troublesome. 

When kids are only making friends online and through text messages, they’re missing out on a lot of the personal and sometimes nerve-wracking parts of communication. Texting makes it easy to keep your guard up and avoid taking risks. Plus, you can’t see or hear how the other person is reacting to your words, which makes it harder to know how they really feel. When you’re texting, you can take as long as you want to respond, which means you can carefully craft your message without feeling rushed. No wonder why kids say talking on the phone is “too intense” – it requires more direct communication, and if you’re not used to that, it can be intimidating.

If kids don’t have enough practice communicating with people face-to-face in real time, they’ll grow up to be anxious adults who struggle with talking to others. And let’s face it, social situations only get more complicated as you get older and start navigating romantic relationships and jobs.

Cyber Bullying, Imposter Syndrome, and Constant Comparison

Kids these days may communicate more indirectly, but that hasn’t made them any less mean. Cyberbullying and relational aggression are on the rise, especially among girls who seem to enjoy a good argument more online than in person. And with social media, it’s not just about being popular in school – it’s about being popular online too. Kids are so obsessed with curating the perfect image that they’re starting to feel like frauds. When teens browse through their social media feeds, they are bombarded with images of perfection, making them feel even more pressure to measure up. It’s not just the airbrushed models in magazines that parents need to worry about, but the seemingly perfect profiles of their own peers. 

 This feeling of being a fake is called the “imposter syndrome,” and it’s especially bad when you’re a teenager and trying to figure out who you really are. The more you pretend to be someone else, the harder it is to feel good about yourself.


Hyperconnection refers to the constant connectivity that teenagers experience due to their use of social media and other online platforms. It allows them to stay in touch with their friends and acquaintances at all times, without any break. However, this constant connection can also lead to anxiety and a feeling of emotional depletion, as teenagers are unable to take a break from the demands of intimacy and connection.

One of the negative consequences of hyperconnection is ghosting, which is when someone abruptly ends all communication without any explanation or warning. This phenomenon is particularly common in online relationships, where people can easily disappear or cut off communication without any consequences. Ghosting can make a teenager feel rejected, ignored, and lonely, especially if they were invested in the relationship. It can also cause anxiety and self-doubt, as teenagers may wonder what they did wrong or why the other person suddenly stopped talking to them.

How do you help your teen use social media in a healthier way?

  1. Set limits: Parents can establish clear guidelines around when and how long their teens can use social media. For example, they can set specific times of the day when social media is off-limits, or limit the amount of time their teen can spend on social media each day.
  2. Encourage offline activities: Parents can encourage their teens to engage in activities that do not involve screens, such as sports, hobbies, or spending time with friends and family.
  3. Model healthy behavior: Parents can model responsible and healthy social media use themselves. They can demonstrate how to take breaks from technology, use social media mindfully, and prioritize in-person relationships.
  4. Teach critical thinking skills: Parents can teach their teens how to critically evaluate information on social media, including distinguishing between credible and unreliable sources, identifying bias and misinformation, and recognizing the potential for manipulation and persuasion.
  5. Foster open communication: Parents can create a safe and supportive environment where their teens feel comfortable discussing their experiences and concerns related to social media use. This can help them develop a more balanced and mindful approach to technology.
  6. Monitor and supervise: Parents can monitor their teen’s social media use and set appropriate privacy settings to protect their personal information. They can also supervise their teen’s online activity to ensure they are not engaging in risky or inappropriate behavior.

By taking these steps, parents can help their teens develop a more balanced and mindful approach to social media use, and promote healthy development and well-being. Social media has become an integral part of the teenage experience, presenting both opportunities and challenges for young people as they navigate adolescence. While social media use can provide a platform for connection, creativity, and self-expression, it can also contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and social isolation. As parents, educators, and community members, it is important that we work together to help young people develop a more balanced and mindful approach to social media use. By setting clear guidelines, encouraging offline activities, modeling healthy behavior, teaching critical thinking skills, fostering open communication, and monitoring and supervising social media use, we can help teens to navigate the ups and downs of social media and adolescence with confidence and resilience. Together, we can help young people to “scroll through the teenage years” in a way that supports their healthy development and well-being.