How Social Media Impacts Teens

Social media is not just a way to communicate — among teens, social networks are a way to connect with friends and idols, and messages can influence their thoughts and behaviors. Call us today to learn more about social media, how your teen uses it and how to prevent their exposure to drugs and alcohol on this platform.

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5 min read

The Rise of Technology

Social media can heavily influence teensWhile generations of old experienced the advent of television and the advent of the internet, technology’s rapid evolution over the last several decades has profoundly affected the world we live in.

People now communicate through emojis and photo sharing apps on smartphones, and information is now literally at fingertips. Today’s consumer has unparalleled access to news and updates happening around the world. The internet has especially influenced Generation Z.

Recent studies show that 92% of teens aged 13–17 go online every single day, including a quarter of whom who report being connected to the internet nearly all the time. Among teenagers with mobile devices — including phones and tablets — the number of those who hop online for something each day jumps to 94%.

While technology has increasingly simplified the process of surfing the web, it’s becoming more important than ever — as parents — to know what information your child is consuming. Teens are using drugs as early as middle school, and technology is making this easier than ever.

Teens and Social Media

A group of teens taking a photo In particular, social media has — in no uncertain terms — taken over the collective consciousness. Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter allow users to interact and exchange information through photos, messages and discussion groups.

Among teens, the usage rate is enormous:

  • 71% have a Facebook account
  • 52% have an Instagram account
  • 41% have a Snapchat account
  • 33% have a Twitter account

Teens aged 15–17 are more likely to use Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter than teens who are 13–14 years old — they tend to use Instagram more.

Social Media and Peer Pressure

teens texting and using social networks The fact that teenagers use social networks may not come as much of a shock in a world where everything is becoming increasingly connected. Instead, it’s how peer pressure has shifted that’s become something to be concerned with.

Recent studies show that 75% of teenagers seeing photos on social networks of other teens smoking weed or drinking encourages them to party in the same way. Teens who have come across these kinds of photos online are 4 times more likely to have used marijuana and more than 3 times more likely to have consumed alcohol. Social media has also begun to desensitize children at a younger age as well — 90% of these kids saw their peers in these photos online before they were even 16 years old.

This “digital peer pressure” amplifies the peer pressure teens already face in their turbulent adolescent years. Drug use, which is already pervasive in schools across the U.S. — 60% of high school students say their school is “drug-infested” — effectively is becoming a “norm” of sorts for adolescents. They see drugs and alcohol being swapped around by friends and acquaintances, and social media helps provides further validation that this behavior is the “cool” way to do things.

Pro-drug social media posts also help to affirm what teens see in the movies. Studies show that 22% of films contain at least one scene involving drugs — the majority of these don’t show any harmful consequences of drug use. On top of that, people who watch R-rated movies are significantly more likely to try marijuana.

Social Media and Mental Disorders

social media dysfunction in groups In some instances, social media has also warped how teenagers view serious mental disorders like depression and self-harm. There are entire channels on networking sites (e.g. “Prettythin,” “Thinspiration,” “pro-depression,” et al.) that misinform teens by glorifying depression and other mental health disorders. They’re groups run by peers, for their peers.

The truth is that in cases of actual mental disorders, a professional needs to make the diagnosis — not a social networking channel of peers. In fact, major depressive disorder is more serious than what’s often communicated online in these channels. In a recent study, 12% of teen girls aged 12–17 suffered from an episode of clinical depression — 3 times higher than the rate of teen boys suffering the same disorder. So, if there actually is depression that’s affecting your child, making the disorder look pretty and normal online isn’t getting them the help they need.

In many instances, substance use disorder can co-occur with an existing mental disorder. If your teen is dually diagnosed, it’s important to find out what treatment options are available to them. Social media can often detract from the solution. Studies show that as Facebook interactions interact, self-esteem drops. And in some cases, compounding issues and experimenting with drugs — even if just to self-medicate — can encourage a teenager’s suicidal thoughts.

Does Your Teen Need Substance Addiction Treatment?

If you believe that your teen may have a substance abuse problem, address the situation right away. Contact a professional who can step in and help you sort out the facts and develop a plan of action. Your child’s doctor is a good place to start. If your teen’s doctor assesses the situation and finds addiction, they will probably recommend a drug rehab treatment program. This can be a tough reality, but is often the only way back to health.

Your child’s doctor will decide which kind of treatment will set your child up for success, a decision based on the severity of the problem. For example, in cases of uncontrollable substance addiction, a rigorous inpatient rehab period is usually the most viable option for addressing the underlying issues behind substance abuse.

If you do not feel ready to make a doctor’s appointment, you chat with one of our treatment advisors here at We offer free assistance, and have lots of experience helping parents like you, whose children have abused substances. It’s time to take back the reigns from addiction, and heal your family. Take the first step — call us today.

It’s Time To Get Your Child Back.

Call us today to have one of our recovery specialists help you find the dedicated care your teen needs.

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