How Social Media Affects Your Self-Esteem

Like, reply, tweet, post, share; a cycle most teens know too well. There’s easy access to the internet and the ability to converse with thousands online over common topics, but some content can lead to detrimental effects on the youth’s psyche. 

According to the Pew Research Center 97 percent of teenagers aged 13 to 17 admit to using the internet at least daily, with 46 percent of teens saying they use it constantly. 

Trends such as “Fitspiration” or “Thinspo” have circulated the internet recently, which can lead to mental health concerns regarding self-esteem, eating disorders and body dysmorphia according to an article in the Journal of Eating Disorders.

In the United States, teens are reported to spend an average of eight hours and 39 minutes of screentime per day according to the New York Times. With one third of a day spent on the internet, it allows for impressionable youths to fall down a rabbit hole of deprecating jokes and participate in self-destructive behaviors. 

“It [social media] can lead to an over-reliance on validation from people you don’t know,” freshman Kevin Zapata said.

With a push for more health-focused content on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok, comes a wave of content creators promoting a variety of beauty methods and dieting products. Appealing to vulnerable youths, some social media influencers are marketing photoshopped pictures and unhealthy diets as the beauty standard. This can result in teenagers participating in body comparisons and negative self-reinforcements. Tags such as #proana, #size0 and #sigmagrindset gain millions of views on TikTok that encourage these mindsets. These “ideal body types” prioritize appearance over health, tying your worth to your sexual appeal. 

“It gives an unrealistic view of how women’s bodies are supposed to be shown and it ruins people’s self-esteem horribly,” said senior Nicole Salvador when asked if social media can have negative effects on mental health. 

A correlation was found between students who have an “increased usage” in Instagram and Snapchat, and developing an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or binge eating. In a study done by Flinders University, author Simon Wilksch noted that students with a higher number of social media accounts were linked with thoughts and behaviors associated with eating disorders.

“I can say that the presence of disordered eating behaviors in boys in the current study was nearly four times higher than two decades ago in another Australian study,” Wilksch said. 

If you or some you know is struggling with an eating disorder , clinics such as Clementine South Miami can provide assistance in recovery. The National Eating Disorder Helpline (NEDA) is also available 24/7, and can be reached at 1-800-931-2237 for a more immediate response. Eating disorders can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation or race.