#FINDINGHOPE: Social media usage may be affecting your teen's mental health

Posted at 6:17 PM, Nov 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 09:39:55-05

NAMPA, Idaho — In 2018, a study done by Pew Research found that 95% of teens in the U.S admitted to having a smartphone or access to one. The same study also found that 45% of those teens are “almost constantly” online.

To understand how social media is negatively affecting Treasure Valley teens, 6 On Your Side reached out to Rebekah Sterns, a licensed professional counselor in Nampa who works with clients 14 years of age or older. She says, “clients, especially girls, can be more apt to the depression, anxiety from social media…” adding that today, “we have all of these apps and things to kind of get rid of our flaws- we’re a very image-based society.”

Rebekah adds that the negative influence social media has on a teen also affects “how they cognitively perceive things and think about things about themselves and others.”

Molly Birch, like any other 16-year-old, has an account on Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. While her experiences with the platforms have been relatively positive, she still struggles with the anxiety of putting herself out there. Molly says she feels obligated to “look a certain way, act a certain way.” When we asked her how that makes her feel, she replied, “it’s pretty tiring.”

Molly’s parents and ironically, an app help regulate her social media use as needed. According to Molly, the app, OurPact seems to work for her and her family.

If you’re a teen or parent concerned with your teen’s mental health, but not yet ready to consult with a professional, Rebekah encourages those curious to look up the Beck Depression Inventory or Beck Anxiety Inventory. Both inventories are accredited evaluations designed to help someone self-assess their current mental health status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists symptoms and signs for anxiety and depression. For more information you can also visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website, click here.