Experts have highlighted the dangers of teenagers’ unrestricted social media use and urged parents, educators, and others to promote responsible social media behaviour.
They point out that although social media has become an integral part of life and its use has advantages in allowing people to connect, share and communicate, it also has its downside.
As a result, teenagers and their parents need to recognise the potential dangers.
They include cyberbullying and online harassment.
Encouraged by a degree of anonymity, social media users can and do easily engage in hurtful behaviour, resulting in psychological distress, depression, and even suicidal thoughts among young users.
Frequent negative comments and insults can severely impact a teenager’s self-esteem.
The United States National Library of Medicine says that cyberbullying is unique compared to traditional bullying in that it reaches an unlimited audience with increased exposure across time and space.
The agency’s official website also notes that cyberbullying preserves words and images more permanently.
And because perpetrators often may not see the faces of their victims and the impact of cyberbullying, they usually do not feel a sense of accountability.
Negative body image and unhealthy comparisons may also affect teenage social media users flooded with images and messages that promote unrealistic beauty standards and lifestyles.
According to the experts, adolescents and teenagers, who are still developing their self-identity, can be particularly susceptible to feeling inadequate and experiencing negative body image issues.
And because young individuals may not fully comprehend the importance of privacy settings and the potential risks associated with sharing personal information online, oversharing can have serious consequences, including identity theft, online stalking, and offline dangers.
Excessive use of social media has been linked to various mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
The constant need for validation through likes, comments, and followers can create a sense of insecurity and dependence on external factors for self-esteem.
Social media addiction can cause young people to spend hours scrolling through feeds, neglecting schoolwork, hobbies, and physical activities, negatively impacting their academic performance and personal development.
Given the dangers, parents, educators, and other influential people have been urged to work together to guide youngsters on the responsible use of social media.
Of course, older individuals who use social media are also susceptible to the same dangers their younger counterparts face.