FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- For teens, social media can be a fun escape from the everyday and offer an easy way to stay connected with friends and family. However, more and more studies are showing the dangers associated with social media, especially when overconsumed.
Research shows that 92 percent of teens go online daily, and 24 percent say they are online -"almost constantly."- In extreme cases, teens develop an addiction to social media, that can potentially lead to or worsen mental health issues.
“There can be many reasons why a teenager becomes depressed, anxious, or experiences social phobias when using social media," said Kristin Wilson, director of clinical outreach at Newport Academy, an adolescent treatment facility that operates a campus in Darien. "Most teens have difficulty regulating and expressing emotions, and kids are hugely susceptible to peer pressure. Therefore, excessive social media use puts them at risk for experiencing or exacerbating mental health issues.”
According to Wilson, the impact of social media on a developing teen's mind and body is huge. She explains that the brain responds to social media the same way it responds to real-life connections -- with a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure that works in the reward center of the brain.
“Positive reinforcement comes when a teen posts something online and is met with likes, shares, and positive comments from their circle of peers," said Wilson.
Wilson urges parents to monitor their children's social media use so they don't neglect real-world fulfillment in favor of digital approval.
“The work of adolescence is really twofold: to gain a sense of individuality and identity, and to find strong connections with others who are trustworthy and loyal,” said Wilson. "Social media can both help and hinder teens in achieving these goals in their journey toward adulthood."
For more information about Newport Academy or to find a campus near you, click here.