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Social media is fueling a mental health crisis in teenage girls

Being a teenager is hard — balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities,
friends, and family while developing a sense of self. Though these years can
be exciting, they can also be a source of significant stress, which can
negatively impact teen mental health.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms

teenage girls are experiencing record levels of sadness and hopelessness

– a 60 percent increase since 2011. As a result, nearly 30 percent of
teenage girls have considered

suicide, and 13 percent have attempted it.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has labeled

young people’s declining mental health

as “the defining public health crisis of our time,” stating that children
under 14 years of age

should not use social media. Although these statistics are alarming, there are lots of ways that adults
can support teens during these tough times.

The Role of Social Media

Most teenagers are influenced by their peers, but teen girls have higher
tendencies to develop their identity and sense of self based on how others
view them. With social media, the cycle of peer pressure is constant.

While social media is not the only cause for this mental health crisis, it
is a big part of the problem. Comparing yourself with others is a natural
human behavior, but social media intensifies

comparison culture, with most girls going to great lengths to portray themselves in the best
possible light.

In addition, nearly 54 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 17 have
experienced some form of

cyberbullying, including rumors, physical threats, and stalking. And at a time when
judgment is not yet matured, private social interactions between teens can
turn into ongoing online public humiliation.

In the past decade, teens have seen most of their world become virtual,
particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Teens today often spend more time
socializing online than in person. Many consider their online success a
reflection of their popularity, attractiveness, and self-worth.

“There are a few factors that are affecting the mental health of teenage
girls, and social media is certainly a part of it,” says Michael Marcsisin,
MD, Medical Director for Behavioral Health at Independence Blue Cross. “When
the apps are designed to keep you engaged, users are going to continue
seeing certain content, even if it is content that’s negatively affecting
them. Going through adolescence is already tough enough, so when faced with
constant comparison, it can definitely have a negative effect.”


become more aware

about how social media may be affecting your child, you should:

• Ask about the types of online content they watch.

 Be clear about what you consider appropriate for them to share online.

 Learn how to navigate their favorite apps and social media platforms.

How to Tell if a Teen Needs Support

During the teenage years, it is common for a child to pull away from their
parents and caregivers as they develop their own sense of self. However,
that distance can also make it challenging to identify when a teen needs

“Talking to other parents can be helpful,” says Dr. Marcsisin.
“Understanding what is normal behavior in your child’s social circle,
academic expectations, and activities can be a good indicator of your teen’s
mental health, even if they may not share directly with you. It can be
helpful to understand their behavior relative to their social circle to
identify when they might need support,” he adds. “It’s okay to allow space
for your teen to figure out who they are, but if you notice significant
changes in behavior, like a lack of interest in normal activities or not
wanting to attend school, try to

talk to your teen.”

Role Models Set Good Examples

It’s crucial for teens to know they have someone to talk to if they feel

anxious, or depressed. Parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches, or other trusted
adults can provide a

reliable support system

for teens.

In the meantime, boost your teen’s resilience by encouraging them to spend
time with trusted friends. Celebrate their unique talents and achievements
and validate their feelings. Providing a balanced perspective on navigating
life’s ups and downs can also be helpful.

One of the most effective techniques parents and caregivers can use is

leading by example. When teens see adults taking care of their mental health through exercise,
therapy, or spending time with friends, they are more likely to model that
behavior. In general, teens are more likely to seek help when parents
encourage healthy behaviors, talk honestly about mental health, and are open
to treatment and resources that support better mental health.

“It is hard to be completely immune to the pressures that come with
adolescence like hormone changes, self-identity development, and social
standards,” says Dr. Marcsisin. “With the right support, we can help teens
be aware of these challenges and develop a positive self-image.”

For more information about mental health, self-care strategies, and where to
find help, visit

This content was originally published on

IBX Insights.

Originally Appeared Here

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