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How social media is impacting mental health among teens

Social media was designed with the purpose of connecting people regardless of geographic boundaries, providing a platform for sharing experiences, ideas, and personal content. Since its inception in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with sites like SixDegrees and later Facebook, which launched in 2004, the use of social media has surged exponentially.

Initially a novel way to communicate, social media has grown into an ecosystem of various platforms such as Instagram (2010), Snapchat (2011), and TikTok (2016). These platforms cater to different forms of expression through text, images, and videos. Their origins lie in the increasing availability of internet access and advancements in technology that allow for real-time interaction.

The history of social media's impact on teen mental health gained prominence as a subject of concern with the rise in the platforms' usage. Studies have been conducted throughout the years following its adoption – particularly in seasons coinciding with technological breakthroughs and global events that drove more users online, such as during the mobile device proliferation in the early 2010s and the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in 2020.

The correlation between social media use and teen mental health issues has been observed in various times of the year, including during summer vacations or holiday seasons when social media usage can increase due to free time. Concerns highlighted include cyberbullying, body image issues from beauty standards portrayed online, sleep deprivation from late-night screen time, and overall stress from social comparison and fear of missing out (FOMO).

While the negative impacts are often discussed, it is noteworthy that social media also brings benefits like creating supportive communities. However, as research progresses over time, there is an evolving understanding that moderation and healthy usage practices are essential to mitigate potential harms connected to mental health among teens using social media.

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