Social pressures and anxieties are never greater for a person than during their teenage years, when the need to connect with social groups and friends pushes many teens towards poor decisions and life habits.
Since the release of social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube in the past decade, teenagers have been able to stay connected with their friends with the click of a button. In my opinion, while this has led to a revolution in communication and expression, it has also profoundly affected countless lives for the worse. Base from experience, there are correlations between self-image and social networking, suggesting that Facebook can be less beneficial for teens (and adults) than it is helpful.
One of the greatest reasons that Facebook has grown into a billion dollar corporation is a simple psychological reaction that takes place in the brain when a person sees new content in a digital form like the Internet. This reaction is part curiosity, part social relief, and part reward. The little red flag that signifies a Facebook post or comment is a trigger for this psychological pleasure, an incredibly brief sensation of relief that can very easily create addiction.
Teens are especially susceptible to becoming addicted to Facebook since their social lives are especially profound, important, and innovative at their age. Yet there are seriously diminishing returns on this addiction, as each update provides less and less relief while increasing the desire for more. Visit TheFamilyCompass.com to learn more about teen psychology.
In addition to the psychological factor of attention, Facebook allows users to put their picture into the world. Teenagers and body image have long since been a troublesome mix, and teens that worry about their facial features or weight can easily become depressed when their Facebook networks show their thin, attractive friends posting pictures. Since many of these pictures are attention-seeking, in addition, featuring subjects like scantily-clad beach trips or provocative new outfits or muscular mass, it can lead to a sense of self-shame. In addition to body image, many photos are of smiling, happy situations. Teens need only take one look at a party’s pictures to convince themselves that they are less happy.
Since Facebook is thought to be a good way to gauge popularity (an otherwise nebulous term), teens have the capability to check their friend listings against others’ profiles. Coming up short in comparison to their friends who have hundreds and thousands of friends (even if these are mere acquaintances) creates feelings of inadequacy and social insignificance.