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The Impact of Social Media on Teenage Mental Health.

Social media has become an integral part of teenagers' lives, with profound effects on their mental health and well-being. Recent research has shed light on both the positive and negative impacts of social media use among adolescents.

Impact of social media on teenagers
Impact of social media on teenager's mental health.

Negative Effects:

  1. Depression and Anxiety: A 2022 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Adolescence found a significant association between social media use and increased symptoms of depression and anxiety in teenagers. The study suggested that excessive use, social comparison, and fear of missing out (FOMO) were key contributing factors.

  2. Sleep Disruption: Research from the University of Glasgow in 2023 revealed that nighttime social media use was linked to poor sleep quality and daytime tiredness among adolescents. This can have cascading effects on mental health and academic performance.

  3. Body Image Concerns: A 2024 study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that exposure to idealized body images on social media platforms was associated with increased body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behaviors in teenagers, particularly girls.

Positive Effects:

  1. Social Support: A 2023 study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that social media can provide valuable social support for teenagers, especially those who may feel isolated or marginalized in their offline communities.

  2. Identity Exploration: Research published in Computers in Human Behavior in 2024 suggested that social media platforms can offer teenagers opportunities for identity exploration and self-expression, which can be beneficial for their psychological development.

  3. Access to Mental Health Resources: A 2023 report by the Pew Research Center found that many teenagers use social media to access mental health information and resources, potentially increasing their mental health literacy and help-seeking behaviors.

The Malaysian Youth Context:

  1. Social Media Usage: Malaysian youths are among the most active social media users in Southeast Asia. A 2021 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite found that Malaysia had an 86% social media penetration rate, with young people being the primary users.

  2. Mental Health Concerns: A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2020 examined social media addiction among Malaysian university students. It found that excessive social media use was associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

  3. Academic Performance: Research from Universiti Teknologi MARA in 2019 suggested that social media use had both positive and negative impacts on Malaysian students' academic performance. While it provided access to educational resources, excessive use led to procrastination and reduced study time.

  4. Cyberbullying: A 2018 study in the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences found that cyberbullying was a significant issue among Malaysian youths, with social media platforms being the primary venue for such incidents.

  5. Body Image and Self-Esteem: Research from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 2020 indicated that exposure to idealized body images on social media was associated with body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem among Malaysian adolescents, particularly girls.

  6. Social Connections: On the positive side, social media has been found to enhance social connections among Malaysian youths. A 2019 study in the Journal of Content, Community & Communication showed that platforms like Facebook and Instagram helped Malaysian students maintain relationships with friends and family, especially those studying abroad.

  7. Political Engagement: Social media has played a role in increasing political awareness and engagement among Malaysian youth. A 2020 study in the Journal of Youth Studies found that social media use was positively associated with online and offline political participation among young Malaysians.

  8. Cultural Identity: Research from Universiti Malaya in 2021 suggested that social media platforms provide spaces for Malaysian youths to explore and express their cultural identities, particularly in a multicultural context.

  9. Digital Literacy: A 2022 report by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission highlighted the need for improved digital literacy among Malaysian youth to navigate the challenges of social media use safely and responsibly.

It's important to note that the impact of social media on Malaysian youths is complex and multifaceted, reflecting both global trends and local cultural factors. The rapidly changing nature of social media platforms and usage patterns means that ongoing research is necessary to fully understand these impacts. Mitigating Risks:

To help teenagers navigate social media more safely, recent research suggests several strategies:

  1. Digital Literacy: A 2024 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that improving digital literacy skills can help teenagers critically evaluate online content and reduce negative impacts on their mental health.

  2. Parental Mediation: Research published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking in 2023 highlighted the importance of parental mediation in promoting healthy social media use among teenagers.

  3. Mindful Usage: A 2024 study in Mindfulness found that teaching teenagers mindfulness techniques for social media use can help reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being.


The impact of social media on teenage mental health is complex and multifaceted. While there are significant risks associated with excessive or problematic use, social media can also offer valuable benefits when used mindfully. Ongoing research continues to inform strategies for helping teenagers navigate the digital landscape in ways that support their mental health and well-being. is your teenager spending too much time on the digital devices? Text us for informtion and an appointment on how to better manage a conversation with your child on this issue. Text 0123300415 360 Wellness Hub.


About the Author


Dr. Lennie Soo

Founder and Clinical Director of 360 Wellness Hub.

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