Exploring the Impact of Social Media on Teen Mental Health in Georgia

July 8, 2024

Since its arrival in the early 2000s, it has been clear social media is here to stay. It has changed the way we work, study, and relate to each other. Social media and internet use have been on the radar of mental health professionals for a long time now. When we talk about teenagers, social media becomes even more significant. The teenage years are a time when the brain is maturing, and the blueprint for social relating is formed. Since all teens in this day and age are exposed to social media since birth, it is worthwhile to investigate the impact of social media on teen mental health.

The Impact of Social Media on Teen Mental Health: Social Media Usage Among Teens in Georgia

Up to 95% of teens aged 13 to 17 use social media in Georgia. A report states that more than one-third of teens use it almost constantly. As of July 1st, 2025, people under 16 in Georgia will need explicit permission from a parent or guardian to use social media. This is so because of a bill called “Protecting Georgia’s Children on Social Media Act of 2024.”

It was approved in 2024 by Governor Brian Kemp, and it will come into effect on that date. The authorities from the state of Georgia will enforce it by demanding that social media sites such as TikTok make efforts to verify the age of their users.

A phone out of which two red hearts come out showing a positive impact of social media on teen mental health
Social media can be beneficial when it is used to further in-person connections.

Positive Effects of Social Media on the Mental Health of Teens

Studies show that not all social media use is harmful to someone’s mental health. Here are some reasons social media can improve a teen’s mental health if used mindfully.

Building Connections and Friendships

Through what other teens share via their social media, your teen child can learn what they have in common with their peers. There are also online groups of people who share lived experiences or interests that may encourage connections with acquaintances.

Access to Information and Educational Resources

Social media can be an effective educational tool. Teens and adults they look up to may share links and materials that have great educational value. From YouTube videos explaining current affairs to TikToks telling a first-person story about their struggles with mental health symptoms, social media is not always a pointless waste of time. Your child may walk away from their favorite social media platform feeling more empowered and in control of their lives.

Platform for Creativity and Self-Expression

Social media also provides a platform for teens to be creative and express themselves. A 2014 study by Pantic states that there was an increase in self-esteem in a study where people were required to browse their own Facebook profiles. Expressing themselves in a curated way led to a better self-image.

Thus, we should not underestimate the impact of self-expression, especially during teenage years, when people are still forming their views of self.

A teen against a white wall holding his hand in his hands
Teenagers can become victims of cyberbullying or grooming if they are active on social media.

Negative Effects of Social Media on Teens’ Mental Health

Regarding social media, however, we know it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Social media provides yet another venue for negative conduct, such as harassment, stalking, and bullying. Before the existence of social media, we weren’t exposed to this amount of information about our peers. This can lead us to compare our achievements to theirs, making us feel anxious or depressed. Luckily, now, there are many mental health programs in Atlanta that can help young people deal with these conditions.

Finally, just as there are links between social media use and positive results in mental health, there are also links between social media and increased depression and anxiety. Finding the best depression treatment in Atlanta can help alleviate the symptoms of this mental health condition, whether it is caused by the negative effects of social media or something else.

Cyberbullying and Online Harassment: The Dark Side of the Impact of Social Media on Teen Mental Health

As many as 67% of the teens with the most frequent social media use were at one point victims of cyberbullying. The opportunity to mask one’s identity has made it possible for bullying to escalate or continue online. Some teens may even suffer from other forms of harassment online, including invasions of personal privacy with private information being spread. This can worsen existing mental health symptoms or even cause distress in otherwise healthy individuals. All of these situations may lead a young person to feel depressed. In order to address this issue, everyone, especially young people, should bear in mind that there are numerous mental health services in Georgia they can rely on.

Comparison and Low Self-Esteem Issues

Studies have linked heavy social media use to false perceptions of the success and happiness of others. This can lead people with a predisposition to various mental illnesses to end up with depression or anxiety symptoms. It can also impact your positive self-image, which can end up being a risk factor for depression. Teenagers who use social media frequently may develop an eating disorder if none existed before because of this comparison.

The hands of a person typing on a laptop out of which social media icons come out
The impact of social media on teen mental health cannot be disregarded

Sleep Disruption and Screen Addiction

We shouldn’t underestimate sleep when discussing the impact of social media on teen mental health. Studies show that using screens in the two-hour span before bedtime can disrupt the quality of your sleep and, potentially, your sleep schedule. This is so because it disrupts the melatonin surge needed before bed.

Just like any other activity that can potentially give you a dopamine rush, social media use can become an addiction. Studies have shown similar withdrawal symptoms from social media use than those individuals experience after withdrawal from alcohol or nicotine.

Increased Anxiety and Depression

Heavy social media use is also linked to both anxiety and depression. Feeling behind in life because of the perceived achievement and happiness of your peers can lead to worries about your own future, which can lead to anxiety. The low self-esteem from certain social media behaviors can lead to depression as well. There have also been links to panic attacks and other symptoms related to panic and agitation from heavy social media use. If you feel like this could be you, there are options for anxiety treatment in Georgia.

A therapist looks at her client compassionately
Social media use can have a negative impact on mental health

Role of Time Wellness Georgia

Time Wellness Georgia is a mental health center offering various services. It is committed to fostering a serene and welcoming setting to enhance mental health in Georgia. It specializes in providing mental health services to teens. Any teen with severe mental health symptoms can probably benefit from one of the programs at Time Wellness Georgia, but we specialize in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Personality disorders
  • Borderline Personality Disorder

There are several treatment options, including partial hospitalization and a program for IOP mental health in Atlanta.

We provide the opportunity for teens to benefit from an intensive, scientifically based course of treatment while still being able to spend the night with their families in their ordinary environment and preserve some of their habits and routines at home. At one of the top mental health facilities for youth in Georgia, various helpful life skills are encouraged and taught.

Strategies for Managing Social Media Use

There are several tips to keep your teen’s social media use under control without outright forbidding it. They include limiting the time your teen spends on social media sites and encouraging them to use it mindfully.

Time Limits

Give your teen child a social media use limit. Reinforce said limit by downloading time tracker apps that could alert you if they go over the allotted time for the day. Do not just enforce this limit; explain and educate your child about the existence of this time limit. The use of time limits can not only reduce the amount of time your teen child spends online, but it can also encourage them to manage their time wisely.

Educate Your Child

Educate your teen about cyberbullying, grooming, and other perils of social media. Encourage them to show empathy and compassion for others both in person and online. Give them tools in case they find themselves being cyberbullied. Instruct them not to publish sensitive information like phone numbers and addresses online and educate them as to why. Explain what grooming is to them and why it is important to tell your parents the truth about who you are talking to online.

The Impact of Social Media on Teen Mental Health: Encourage Your Teen to Use Social Media Mindfully

Even though you cannot control what your teen child ends up doing, you can always encourage them to be mindful of their social media use. This is especially the case because the existing evidence points out that mindful use of social media is the most effective thing you can do to prevent the negative impact of social media on your mental health.

Foster Hobbies that Do Not Involve Screens

If your teen child shows an interest in sports, sewing, arts and crafts, or anything else that doesn’t involve screens, encourage it. Time spent on hobbies or extracurricular activities means less time spent on social media. It encourages in-person connections and time to reflect on their lives away from a screen.

Two parents with their teenage son fussing over him with pride.
Parents should educate their teen children on the risks of social media use

Community and Parental Involvement

From July 1st, 2025 onwards, parents all over the state of Georgia will have to be more involved in monitoring their minors’ use of social media than before. However, parental and community involvement can do a lot now to protect teens. Encouraging open conversations between teens and trusted adults in their lives can help prevent and catch some of the most dangerous situations the online world poses for teens and their well-being.

One of the best things communities can do for teens is to be committed to sharing accurate information about the perils of social media. Talk openly about all dangerous behaviors linked to social media use. Teach online etiquette and encourage teens to be compassionate and kind to each other online as well as offline.

A teen looks out at her own reflection in a window.
Monitoring instead of forbidding social media use seems to be the wisest course of action

What’s the Impact of Social Media on Teen Mental Health?

In short, when considering the impact of social media on teen mental health, there are a few things to consider. Social media has both negative and positive effects on the mental health of teens. Teens in Georgia are heavy social media users. From 2025 onwards, state laws will push for more vigilance because of the risks of social media use for the mental health and physical safety of minors.

Because social media can foster a sense of connection for teens with their peers, it is not a good idea for parents to outright forbid it. Limit and monitor your teen’s use of social media to avoid crises, but make sure your teen children feel comfortable to tell you what they are doing on social media in the first place. In case of emergency, call a Georgia mental health crisis line. Professionals will know how to handle any mental health crisis a teen is going through.

References

Anderson, Monica at Pew Research Center: A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying. 2018.

Cooper, Joanna for Sutter Health: Screens and Your Sleep, the Impact of Nighttime Use.

Pantic, Igor. Online Social Networking and Mental Health. 2014, NIH.

Wabe: Georgia Joins States Seeking Parental Permission Before Children Join Social Media. 2024.