Is Social Media Adding to Low Self-Esteem in Teenagers?

Is Social Media Adding to Low Self-Esteem in Teenagers?

In today’s era of digitally immersed society with booming online platforms like Instagram and Tiktok, the impact of social media on the self-esteem of teenagers have become a topic of concern. The digital presence of perfectly curated beauty standards and lifestyles have an impending impact of comparison and resultant feeling of inadequacy and low self-esteem among the impressionable young audience. Thus, it is imperative to have a nuanced discourse in the ways social media is responsible for the perception of  unrealistic idealistic standards held by teenagers, and explore ways to mitigate the negative impact of it on their mental well-being. 

Examining Social Media’s Impact

Social media has a pervasive influence on teenagers and adolescents, warranting a plethora of research studies being conducted to shed light of its impact on self-esteem and body image. Several research studies reveal a complex relationship, where heightened social media use correlates with diminished self-esteem and distorted body image perceptions among adolescents. The incessant exposure to meticulously curated, often unrealistic portrayals of beauty and success on platforms like Instagram and TikTok can breed feelings of inadequacy and comparison among teens. Moreover, the phenomenon of “likes” and comments serves as a metric of validation, where a lack of engagement can exacerbate feelings of worthlessness.

Contributing Factors:

  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Being constantly exposed to the seemingly perfect lives of others online can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and amplify the fear of missing out, contributing to low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction.
  • Idealized Standards: The overwhelming presence of filtered images and curated lifestyles online perpetuates an unhealthy beauty and lifestyle standard, often leaving teenagers with a feeling of inadequacy and dissatisfaction.
  • Constant comparison: Endless scrolling leaves the teenagers exposed to a stream of idealized images, drawing unhealthy comparison to themselves, fostering low self-esteem
  • Cyberbullying and Trolling: Negative comments, cyberbullying and trolling can have a significant impact on the overall mental-health of an individual, especially children who are vulnerable and sensitive to criticism
  • Validation Seeking: The need for constant validation and reassurance through engagement like “likes” and “comments” can create a dependence on external validation, undermining the value genuine self-worth

Empowering Teenagers

  • Digital Detox: Promoting digital detox practices and encouraging teenagers to limit their screen times, engaging in offline activities and ensuring connectivity with people in their surrounding and learning to appreciate what the nature has to offer to us.
  • Promotion of authenticity: Encouraging authentic self-expression on social media platforms including voicing out your vulnerabilities, flaws and challenges in your life instead of propagating unrealistic ideals.
  • Mindfulness and Self-compassion Practice: Encouraging engagement in mindfulness and self-compassion practices in the micro and macro surrounding of the teenagers, facilitating resilience, self-awareness and self-compassion in the face of societal pressures and unrealistic standards.
  • Positive Role Models: Introducing them to inclusive and diverse role models across various body-types, ethnicities, cultures, abilities, etc fostering them an appreciation of the beauty in diversity.
  • Policies and Regulations: Advocating for policies and regulations promoting responsible social media usage, with stringent application of community guidelines, and accountability measures for platform providers.