Being a teenager was hard enough when the only social technology used on a daily basis was a clunky desktop computer in the classroom (for fighting cholera on The Oregon Trail, duh). Now teens never get a break: When they’re not texting their friends, they’re scrolling through Instagram, and the constant state of connection is messing with their mental health.
According to Thrive Global, when the Higher Education Research Institute first started surveying teens in 1985, only 18 percent said they “felt overwhelmed.” Today, the figure is 41 percent—a drastic change from 29 percent in 2010. And the cause seems to point to social media—so much so that the The New York Times Magazine devoted its latest cover story to the topic.
In 1985, only 18 percent of teens said they “felt overwhelmed.” Today, the figure is 41 percent—a drastic change from 29 percent in 2010.
Though Instagram certainly didn’t invent anxiety, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, author of The New York Times story, found that many parents worried their kiddos’ all-hours-of-the-day digital diet was largely to blame for the struggles.
The problem doesn’t start and end with constant connectivity though: Social media emphasizes putting forth your perfect self, comparing, and, unfortunately, hurting others (unlike in the school hallways of yesteryear, bullies no longer even have to show their face to wreak havoc).
“With social media, the personal becomes the public in a way that a lot of kids don’t know how to handle,” Guy Diamond, PhD, told Thrive Global. “Even bullying used to be more of an isolated act. Even if it happened in the lunchroom, 10 people would see it. Now a thousand people see it.”
Ultimately, no matter your age, it’s important to unplug. Sure, Instagram and Snapchat can be helpful for ogling puppies and finding fresh workout ideas, but they can be rough on the quality of your mental health. So, consider taking a digital detox to recharge—all the latte art photos will still be there when you return.