The Effects of Social Media on Teenagers

As parents, we strive day in and day out to provide healthy meals, drive our kids to soccer practice, cheer at the games; attend parent-teacher meetings at school and teach them to say “no” to drugs and other bad habits.  While we are busy covering all the basics of being a good parent, we can be far too oblivious of the effects the social media is having on children.

Kids today are as technologically connected as anyone on the planet has ever been.  They have access to social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and they can be able to chat in real time with their friend who are a thousand miles away.

Various reports suggest that about eighty-three percent of American youth use their phones for email, mobile internet and texting.  The report further states that these American teens send and receive text messages 144 times a day. If the teens are not texting, they are usually on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where they chat, share photos and video and participate in gaming.

The negative effects of being this “plugged in” is beginning to take enormous effect on kids. Because social interaction comes overwhelmingly online rather than face to face, American youth are showing severe lack of social skills. They are often more comfortable with technology than they are with talking to people. They have not learned the proper communication and conversation skills, how to deal with interpersonal situations and how to date and get to know other people behind the screen. Researchers have found that the middle-school, high school and college students who used Facebook at least once during a 15 minute period get lower grades overall.

Reasons for negative effects of media on teens

Many teens usually spend sleepless nights on social media without the knowledge of their parents. The disruption of sleep has had adverse effects on the teens. It has led to cases of insomnia, mood swings, attention deficits at school and increased obesity just to mention a few. These are some of the serious negative effects of social media on teenagers and issues that are arising with kids often addicted to Facebook.  With such overwhelming evidence of the negative effects of social media on our children, why then, are many parents not taking more action to protect their children?

There perhaps are three major reasons:

1) Parents are unaware of the issues involved in the online connections.  While kids are plugged in to social media, only about 40% of parents are involved themselves.  Parents may not be aware of their children’s “pages” and don’t fully understand privacy policies and they don’t realize what kinds of public postings are taking place, involving their children.

2) Parents don’t want to interfere in their children’s social lives.  Most parents want their children to be popular, accepted and enjoy a happy social life.  Parents sometimes concern themselves with children’s “rights” – their right to privacy and their right to interact in today’s popular forums.  Parents want to allow their children to be as connected as the other kids they associate with, and so they tell themselves that everything is ok.

3) Parents are afraid to take a stand.  Many of “modern” parents are becoming apathetic to the real dangers that too much social media can present to their children.  They don’t want to push their teens away and so they allow their participation in social media to go unchecked rather than make a “big deal” out of it.

The problems this new online society creates are not going away and will continue to grow.  Parents must get off the sidelines and get involved!  Parents have the responsibility to protect their children and be aware of what is going on in the online world.  Investigate and help your child adjust privacy settings.  Be aware of who can see what they post, and what is being posted about them.  Take with them about online safety.

Make sure your teens have plenty of offline time as well.  Restrict the times and frequency of online interaction.

  • Place all phones in the docking station at night where they are required to stay until everyone leaves for work and school in the morning.
  • Consider allowing siblings to share a phone they can “checks out” from mom or dad.
  • Create family-determined “unplugged” hours when children can participate in other activities such as outdoor games, reading, talking, playing together, etc.

Social media has a tremendous effect on us today, but with parental participation and kids’ cooperation, the effects can be positive for everyone.


Chris Crosby
Chris is the cofounder and Managing Director of SociallyActive. He is also the CEO of Inflection Point Global. Check out his personal blog at where he writes about startups, leadership and negotiation.
Chris Crosby
Chris Crosby

Latest posts by Chris Crosby (see all)

  • Teenager do have rights

    i fins this artical to be very informationsal, but wrong. social netowrking has more than negative efects. This may be because i myself i am a teenager, but if i had to share my phone with my brother i would not be happy. We would always be fighting over it no matter what my parents did. If my parents were to take away that one phone, then i would never be be able to talk with my friends. since i am home schooled.

    • unknown

      well you don’t go to a school where you can see the effects the internet has on teens who are under peer pressure from other teens around them.

    • Hikari Yoshimoto

      Your punctuation and grammar is terrible. Stop getting home schooled. This is an example which can be caused by social media. Also known as “Cyber Bullying”.

    • me

      first of “I FIND this”, I swear to god if you cant spell find you need to go back to school!

  • Guest

    How does it effect the socialization of teens though?

    • Hikari Yoshimoto

      Through correcting your grammar, this can be a form of bullying. Done through social media. This can make a teen feel threatened and in some cases, scared. This will reduce the socialization of teens as they are being corrected or picked on. Depending on the situation, it will reduce the socialization of teens.

  • Jasmire Taylor

    what about the cyberbullying and the nude pictures? i’m a teen who does not engage in any social medias but, i see the effects on my friends. what are people going to do about this?

    • this guy…. OF DOOM

      not being rude but tell you friends this:
      1.dont let cyberbullying affect you, because the only reason they use the internet is because you can not talk with out looking stupid, but if you note they will avoid you in real life because there you have fist
      2. don’t send nude pictures even if you like the guy/girl, its never safe in anyone hands.

  • Guest

    Social networking has more than just negative effects. Yes, there is the isolation as well as cyberbullying, but it’s also a way for friends to communicate more easily. I usually use Facebook to plan outings with friends. It’s much easier to log into Facebook and message a friend, if I’m already on the computer, instead of picking up my phone to call them. I’m not disregarding the cons, but at least recognize the pros.

    • Bailey W.

      I completely agree with you. There are some major negative effects that have taken place from social media interaction. However, the practicality of instant communication that the sites have offered us have been a huge breakthrough in technology. Not only have they allowed us instant contact with our friends and family, they allow us to create events with the click of a button and easy access to add all of our friends to join rather than using a postage system of writing letters to each and every friend you need to get in contact with.

      • muzzy

        I agree with you as well, but there is one thing i was thinking about while reading your post. It is true that its easy access to message a friend other than picking up the phone and calling them, but kids nowadays are depending on messaging rather than talking. They have gotten so used to it that they text or message each other when they arrive at the place they are meeting, or when they arrive at each others houses, which is a huge con because its taking about from face to face interaction.

  • Farouq gilani

    social media has a large impact on youth specially under develop countries it have a great impact both aspects positive as well as negatives but according to me it is superb station for youth to develop their skills abilities and also learning with variety of knowledge

    Farouq Gilani Bahawalpur Punjab Pakistan

  • C. Trent

    This article only covers the negative aspects of teens and social media- that is because they’re selling a product that they want you to buy.

    SociallyActive is a spy program for parents to use to help keep tabs on their children.

    I’m actually all for the program, kids need to be monitored on these sites. The bar has been raised. The boundaries of what is considered taboo is constantly being stretched.

    So I say, Dont use this site as an objective argument on the positive/negative aspects of social media- but instead see this site for what it is.

    A commercial.

    • Chris Crosby

      Hi Trent, thanks for your comment. You are correct that we do provide social network monitoring tools for parents. We’re not actually a spy program though, as we encourage both parents and teens to be engaged in the monitoring discussion.

      Additionally, we strive to provide resources for parents that are objective, relevant and informative- and not of the sales nature.

      Take Care,
      Chris Crosby
      Cofounder- SociallyActive

  • kinisimere tokailagi

    thumbs up…jst wat d world nids rite now,,

  • Adonis AZ

    The content of this blog talk fact about negative effect social media. The point raised is up to the mark is correct. The parents plays the vital role in effects of the social networking sites effect on their children, they should be more responsible towards it.


    its really great…but this content can’t convince children as u have many other gains from these social media…!!!

  • Bailey W.

    I am a 21 year old college student, and by no means can relate to the effects social media has on children because I will be the first to admit, social media controls majority of our social life. I can recognize that websites such as Facebook and Twitter have taken a toll on face to face contact with peers, but what people seem to forget is that this world where social media has apparently taken over is the generation in which we grew up in. At the end of the day, this is how we communicate. We did not grow up in an era where we would write letters to our friends in order to keep in contact. We did not grow up accepting that we may need to go days with out being able to contact our friends or get in touch with family due to lack of technology. We grew up in a generation where the click of 10 digits on a cell phone that you carry with you anywhere you go can instantly keep you in touch with the outside world and who you care about the most. It would be foolish of me to convince anyone that social media has no negative side effects on our generation, because it absolutely does. However, I see much more positives of social media networks than I do negatives. Any thoughts? I would love feedback! I am currently enrolled in an advanced argumentation class at Oregon State University and would love some insightful information and feedback to broaden my sense of social media and am open minded to new ideas I may not be aware of.

    • paola

      hi Bailey, I totally agree with you. I’m a 40 yrs old mom with teens ( age 11-13) and I am the one who grew up writing letters to my long distance american friends, met during an holiday in california. I remember waiting for weeks for their replies, I remember calling them by night , and then being grounded when my dad got the phone bill…I remember watching the only two movies I had recorded in english over and over again to learn to speak english…or listening to the songs of my favourite artists on my headphones so I could understand the lyrics and translate them to my friends…It was so hard then…and now I told my kids they are sooooo lucky they have the internet, and skype, and facebook and they have friends all over the world.
      the latest news: a friend of my boy just moved to N.Y. they spoke on skype yesteday but the connection was bad so tonight they are going to play on line on playstation 3 and speak on their microphones, because the connection is even better…
      so the problem is not the tool itself, but the use ( or abuse) the teen does of the tool..and this can be applied to everything.
      parents’ job is to teach their kids how to use tools, from the bike, to the computer, to the car, and the condoms too!!!

  • Don

    This is a good article but you did leave out another major factor which prevents parents from monitoring and/ or criticizing and adjusting their teens usage. That reason is that many adults are now addicted to social media as well. They also thrive On the attention they get from pages being liked or comments of approval. They may be too busy in their own cyber world to even know what their kids are doing or even worse, some encourage their kids to be part of the cyber world and encourage their online relationships at the expense of real face to face social activities. Is a shame that something so advanced creates so much negativity. we are a worldfull of gluttons.

  • cj

    I belive the point here is that social networking provides more negative effects than positive. It may be convinient to communicte with friends and such on these websites however, some people take it for granted. Why do you need the convieniece of facebook and twitter in you’re pocket at any time? Some may just not know how to use these websites for recreational use rather than a religion.

  • luke cordisco

    Dear Chris, my name is Luke and I am a 7th grade student at Providence Hieghts Alpha School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In my English class a project was assigned to do a research project on a conflict in our world. I chose to do it on Social media. I read your Article and I really liked it. What are some other sources that have information about this topic.
    From, Luke