Why Social Media Is More Than a Vehicle for Cyberbullying With Teens (2023)

Almost every day there are reports of cyberbullying in the news. Combine this with the fact that victims of cyberbullying often suffer significant consequences, and it is not surprising that most parents equate social media with something that is bad for kids.

And while it is important for parents to instill healthy habits surrounding social media use—including limiting and monitoring time online—it is also important to recognize that social media is not a bad thing. It only becomes a bad thing when people misuse it for bullying, public shaming, and rumor spreading. In fact, research shows there are numerous benefits to social media use.

Benefits of Social Media for Youth

While the overuse of electronics and social media can certainly be a problem, there are also numerous potential benefits of social media for youth, including the following:

  • Strengthening friendships
  • Motivating kids to do good
  • Reducing feelings of isolation
  • Becoming a source of support
  • Building a platform
  • Encouraging personal expression
  • Accessing information

Social Media Can Strengthen Friendships

There is no doubt that friendships are a key component of teen life. When kids have healthy friendships, they not only feel accepted for who they are, but theyalso feel more empowered and connected to the world around them. Friends also can speak truth into their lives and encourage them to explore their dreams.

What's more, research has shown that having at least one solid friendship can go a long way in preventing bullying. In fact, bullies often target teens that are alone or isolated. But teens that havea core group of friends often have a built-in layer of protection from bullying.

More than half of teens believethat social media helps their friendships.

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According to a survey by Common Sense Media, 52% of teens felt that social media improved their friendships and only 4% felt it hurt them. Additionally, the study found that nearly 30% of social media users believe that social networking makes them feel more confident and outgoing.

Social Media Is a Vehicle for Doing Good

Whether teens are developing fundraisers or supporting an important cause, social media can help them make an impact in their communities. Some social movements have started when teens leveraged social media to build awareness for an issue.

Whether they make YouTube videos or develop Twitter campaigns, teens have more impact on the world around them because of social media. Moreover, their voices are being heard more frequently.

Social media also exposes kids to important issues all over the world, not just thosein their communities. As a result, they realize that social media is a way for them to help and support people even from far away. They can instantaneously make an impact on things like hunger in Africa, preserving the rain forest, or providing educational tools for kids without resources.

Social Media Reduces Feelings of Isolation

While social media can make adults feel lonelier, researchers are finding the opposite may be true for teens. One study found that even though teenshave fewer friends than teens did a decade ago, they still report feeling less lonely than their counterparts. They also report feeling less isolated. Researchers suggest that the difference is social media and technology.

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As teens find their niche, they are becoming more individualistic and more extroverted and have higher self-esteem. This increased individuality makes teens more secure in existing friendships and reduces feelings of loneliness overall. This is especially true if those friendships are healthy.

This research also suggests that teens are developing stronger social skills due to social media use. As technology becomes a bigger part of everyday life, solid online communication skills are important. Through social media, teens learn how to navigate social networking sites and other methods of online communication. This makes them better communicators in an increasingly digital world.

Social Media Is a Source of Authentic Support

Years ago, if teens were interested in a quirky subject or were grappling with who they were as a person, they often felt marginalized and alone. Today, teens can connect with others that share similar interests, desires, andconcerns. This connection helps them feel validated and secure in who they are.

Another way teens are finding support is through online communities. For instance, kids struggling with issues like drug addiction and eating disorders now can find help and support online without ever having to leave their homes. This is especially helpful for teens in small communities or rural areas where resources may be limited.

Teens experiencing suicide ideation can even get immediate access to quality online support. One example of online supportoccurred when a Reddit Minecraft community talked a teen out of suicide. Aside from posting positive comments and messages, more than 50 of the users used voice conferencing to persuade the teen not to go through with it. This is a perfect example of how social media and technology can benefit teens today.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

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Social Media Can Build a Platform

Your teen can use social media to begin developing an online presence that can attract the attention of colleges and future employers. For instance, some teens make YouTube videos or write blog posts on topics they are passionate about.

A young teen who has a passion for reading and writing might publish book reviews or film videos with their thoughts, ideas, and comments. As their work gains traction online, they may even develop a following which could include authors, literary agents, and publishers.

Then, when this teen applies for college, they can reference their social media accounts on college applications. This work demonstrates their creativity and maturity, but also shows that they are aself-starter.

Building a platform on social media can open a lot of doors for teens and help them build a positive online reputation. It also can expose them to college scholarships, college networks, and even a future career. And it can change their perspective on social media. It's no longer just a place to post silly pictures or observe digital drama. It becomes a tool they can use to share their passions and eventually find a career path.​

Social Media Allows for Personal Expression

Digital technology is the perfect tool for channeling creativity and personal expression. Whether kids enjoy singing, writing, or acting, they can share these talents with the world around them. Kids who enjoy fashion, make-up trends, or craft projects also can express themselves online. Providing this avenue of self-expression is important for teens.

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Research shows that there is a direct connection between self-expression and self-confidence. When kids are given avenues for being authentic and true to themselves, they become content with who they are and happier overall.

By contrast, when they do not have many opportunities to express themselves or they do not know people with the same passions or interests, they begin to wonder if there is something wrong with them. They also question why they are not like everyone else.

Social Media Is a Tool for Gathering Information

Social media has become a source of information and news for many teens. Once they begin social networking, they can follow just about anyone with a social media account. From authors and athletes to celebrities, chefs,nonprofit organizations, and magazines, they are connected to all sorts of information.

Teens also can gather information about issues that impact them or their friends. For instance, if they are concerned a friend might have an eating disorder or a drug addiction, they can gather information about it. Or, if they want to learn more about a presidential election, climate change, or even find new ways to eat healthily, they can do so on their social media accounts.

A Word From Verywell

Overall, social media does not have to be scary. Even though it can be exploited by kids who bully others, instilling good digital etiquette and maintaining an open dialogue about online safety can go a long way in keeping kids safe online.

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As a parent, make sure you are nurturing the positive aspects of social media as well as discussing the dangers. By doing so, you will help your kids develop social media savvy, a skill that will ultimately help them in the years to come.

Keeping Your Kids Safe on Social Media


How social media affects teenage self-esteem? ›

How does social media affect teenagers' mental health? Social media affects teenagers' mental health negatively by limiting direct contact with peers and encouraging constant comparison online, which can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Why are teens addicted to social media? ›

Because teens' brains and social skills are rapidly developing, they are particularly susceptible to the addictiveness of social media.

How is the impact of social media on youth positive? ›

What are the positive effects of social media? Beneficial mental health effects of social media include access to information and resources; a sense of belonging and connection; positive inspiration and motivation; an outlet for self-expression; and access to services delivered remotely.

Why is social media bad for teens? ›

Social media harms

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use.

What are the pros and cons of social media? ›

Top 10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media
Pros of Social MediaCons of Social Media
Social Media Can Reach Large AudiencesSocial Media Causes Sleep Issues
Government Benefits from Social MediaSocial Media Cause Depression and Loneliness
Entertainment with Social MediaSocial Media Causes Distraction
7 more rows
Feb 6, 2023

What is the main cause of social media addiction? ›

The 'dopamine loop'

Using social media can lead to physical and psychological addiction because it triggers the brain's reward system to release dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. Dopamine is actually a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger between neurons) involved in neurological and physiological functioning.

What is the bad effect of social media? ›

Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health.

Why is our generation obsessed with social media? ›

Gen Z is so obsessed with social media because it allows them to connect and build friendships with people all over the world. It's a powerful tool for building community and sharing information. And it's a great way to stay connected with friends and family.

How does social media affect youth positive and negative? ›

Social media use may expose teens to peer pressure, cyberbullying, and increased mental health risk. But, social media can also connect isolated teens and help them find supportive networks. Parents can set limitations and communicate openly with teens about healthy social media use.

What are the positive and negative effects of social media on students? ›

However, social media has many positive effects on education including better communication, timely information, and socializing online, etc. But at the same time, it has some negative effects which include identity theft, cyberbullying, and social isolation.

What are 10 negative effects of social media? ›

The negative aspects of social media
  • Inadequacy about your life or appearance. ...
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO) and social media addiction. ...
  • Isolation. ...
  • Depression and anxiety. ...
  • Cyberbullying. ...
  • Self-absorption. ...
  • A fear of missing out (FOMO) can keep you returning to social media over and over again.
Mar 2, 2023

Is social media destroying our youth? ›

Researchers have found that youth who spend two or more hours on social media each day are more likely to report poor mental health and psychological distress. If you were given 1,300 hours to do anything you wanted, what would you do?

What are 3 pros and 3 cons of social media? ›

Pros & Cons of Social Media
Put yourself out there in a good wayPosting inappropriate statuses/pictures
Connect with students in other educational systemsMaking people feel bad about themselves
Make new friends/communicate or connect with old friends/familyCyberbullying
15 more rows

What are two cons of social media? ›

  • It can contribute to social isolation.
  • It can be used as an effective tool for bullying.
  • It is often used to snoop on others.
  • People who use it are more likely to social compare themselves to others.
  • Presents a false idea of “friendship”
  • Research has shown that it can increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
Mar 31, 2022

What are 3 advantages and 3 disadvantages of social media? ›

  • Educational process. ...
  • Online marketing. ...
  • Information spreads fast. ...
  • It lets us share anything with others. ...
  • It helps you to achieve your goals. ...
  • Privacy problems. ...
  • It changes lifestyle habits, and it is sleep disruption. ...
  • Lacks emotional connection.
Jan 20, 2019

How many teens are addicted to social media? ›

Around 70% of teens and young adults in the US have a social media addiction. The average person spends 1 hour and 40 minutes per day on social media. Over 50% of Americans aged 30-49 have a social media addiction.

What are the causes of social media to the students? ›

It is easy to become addicted, and research shows that students who spend too much time on social media can suffer from poor sleep, eye fatigue, negative body image, depression, anxiety, cyberbullying, and more.

How social media addiction affects students? ›

In a study on social media use, sleep quality, and well-being in 467 adolescents, it was found that social media use was associated with poor sleep, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Poor sleep was most strongly associated with nighttime social media use (Woods & Scott, 2016).

What are the dangers of social media essay? ›

Disadvantages of Social Media

Despite having such unique advantages, social media is considered to be one of the most harmful elements of society. If the use of social media is not monitored, it can lead to grave consequences. It is harmful because it invades your privacy like never before.

Does social media improve or hurt our society? ›

According to a Harvard study, routine social media use is positively associated with social wellbeing, self-rated health, and mental health. We just need to be mindful users and keep a healthy perspective about social media's role in our lives.

What are three ways how social media platforms are abused? ›

Puts you down in their status updates. Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return. Pressures you to send explicit videos. Steals or insists on being given your passwords.

What generation is most addicted to the internet? ›

Gen Z population accounts for the highest user base in internet usage.

Which generation uses social media the most? ›

Gen Zers reported using social media for four or more hours a day (54%) at a rate almost double that of all U.S. adults (28%). Meanwhile, 1 in 5 U.S. adults indicated they use social media for less than 1 hour per day, five times more than the share of Gen Z respondents who said the same (4%).

What generation is affected by social media? ›

Generation Z is a social generation.

With nearly 100 percent of Gen Z adults using social media, they are the first true digital natives, having grown up in a world entirely connected by the internet and mobile devices with 24/7 access.

What are some disadvantages of social media for high school? ›

Disadvantages of Social Media for Students
  • Addiction to Social Media. ...
  • Social Media has adverse effects on socialization. ...
  • Social Media can lead to cyberbullying. ...
  • Social Media has a lot of inappropriate content. ...
  • Social Media can cause serious health concerns for students.

What are disadvantages of social media for kids? ›

Social anxiety, self-image issues, and even something like FOMO (fear of missing out) are potential repercussions of too much screen time. Kids need to separate what happens on social media from real life, and if they're in front of a screen for half the time they're awake, those lines can get blurred.

Why students Should Avoid social media? ›

Social Media Reduces the Communication Skills of Students

Communication skills are very important for students. They have to learn communication skills for surviving in society. They only communicate with social media. Due to the excessive use of social media, the students forget communication skills.

Do you think social media has a positive or negative influence on children? ›

Social media can have a positive effect on your child like helping them learn how to communicate with others, navigate relationships and how to manage somebody who isn't being kind to them. So, no social media at all might not be the best (or realistic) solution for your kids.

Is social media positive or negative for mental health? ›

Internet use and excessive social media engagement have, however, been linked to cyberbullying, social isolation, stress, and depression [10]. Frequent social media activity is also linked to harmful behaviors, such as addictions, self-harm, and suicidality that can be detrimental to mental health [11].

Does social media have a positive or negative impact on friendships? ›

1 Aside from cyberbullying, oversharing and sexting issues, social media also can put negative pressure on friendships, especially when one friend is very active about posting pictures, status updates and opinions that hurt others.

What is the impact of social media among the youth on behavior change? ›

Many experts believe that the constant overstimulation of social networking shifts the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode. As a result, this makes disorders such as ADHD, teen depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and teen anxiety worse.

How is social media a distraction to students? ›

Social media distraction refers to the process by which social media cues draw individuals' attention away from a task that they originally pursued (e.g., working). Due to especially mobile access to social media, distractions by social media can occur frequently.

How social media affects self-esteem? ›

Research shows that the more time people spend on Facebook and Instagram, the more they compare themselves socially. This social comparison is linked, among other things, to lower self-esteem and higher social anxiety.

How social media reduces low self-esteem? ›

Tips to help with self-esteem
  1. Unfollow - if an account makes you feel bad about yourself then unfollow/unlike. ...
  2. Take a break or reduce time on social media - you don't have to switch off altogether but taking a little break from comparing yourself to how others look, dress or live their lives will help.
Jun 22, 2021

How social media filters affect self-esteem? ›

"People begin to expect themselves to look like their filtered self and can become obsessed with achieving that in the real world, which leaves them depressed, anxious, lonely, and disappointed," she says.

How social media causes insecurity? ›

It's not all moonshine and roses, though: the overly curated content, the absence of personal relationships, and the increase of cyberbullying are often causing feelings of insecurity, depression, anxiety, and isolation – particularly among teenagers.

What are the disadvantages of using social media? ›

  • It can contribute to social isolation.
  • It can be used as an effective tool for bullying.
  • It is often used to snoop on others.
  • People who use it are more likely to social compare themselves to others.
  • Presents a false idea of “friendship”
  • Research has shown that it can increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
Mar 31, 2022

How does social media affect mental health negatively? ›

Research studies note the connection between use of social media and its undesirable outcomes that increase incidence of anxiety, stress, depression, body image concerns, and loneliness in teens and young adults (APA, 2022).

Should parents limit teenagers use of social media? ›

Setting restrictions on Internet use at certain times is a great way to protect your kids from potentially harmful online activities and encourages them to use their time appropriately. Kids and teens are less likely to participate in unhealthy online behavior when someone else is present.

How does social media affect girls? ›

Studies show that girls who share more photos online and use photoshop to edit their pictures feel worse about their appearance and exhibit greater eating concerns, which can include restricting their intake, removing certain food groups, or overeating to cope with negative body image and low self esteem.

How does social media affect social skills? ›

Non-verbal aspects of a conversation are how the person speaking indicates his/her emotion about what he/she is talking about. Using social media too much makes it harder for people to identify the emotion being expressed by the people with whom they are talking. This makes it harder to respond appropriately.

Why social media does more harm than good? ›

“Friends” on social media may not actually be friends, and may even be strangers. Increased usage. The more time spent on social media can lead to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, and exposure to content that is not age appropriate. Social Media is addicting.

Why is social media bad for kids? ›

Social media can also pose risks. For your child, these risks include: being exposed to inappropriate or upsetting content, like mean aggressive, violent or sexual comments or images. uploading inappropriate content, like embarrassing or provocative photos or videos of themselves or others.

How does social media affect girls self image? ›

However, research has largely reported adverse influences from adolescents' social media use, contributing to mental health difficulties including increased depression, anxiety, and self-harm behaviors, decreased socio-emotional wellbeing, low self-esteem and negative body image [7,8,9,10].

What are the positive effects of social media? ›

Social media may provide individuals with a platform that overcomes barriers of distance and time, allowing them to connect and reconnect with others and thereby expand and strengthen their in-person networks and interactions.

Does social media boost self confidence? ›

Positive impacts on self-esteem can occur through interactions via social media if adolescents feel a sense of connectedness and support, but some experiences online may have a negative impact on self-esteem. The negative impact is not always caused by cyberbullying or a negative comment.


1. Teen & Technology From Social Media to Sexthing to Cyberbullying
(UTMB Health Patient Channel)
2. Hacking the adolescent brain to stop cyberbullying | Trisha Prabhu | TEDxNaperville
(TEDx Talks)
3. Cyberbullying | I AM WHOLE Discussion
4. Chloe's Law: The crusade to end social media bullying | 60 Minutes Australia
(60 Minutes Australia)
5. Think Time: Teens and Social Networks
6. Adult Cyberbullying
(Dr. Wendy O'Connor)
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