Here it is, one of the biggest debates of the present day. How is social media affecting the lives and mindsets of the current younger generation?

On one hand, there are many problems that social media puts on young people, including mental health. Many feel that this is the most common and predominant issue that social media poses. There are countless studies that show how young people are being negatively affected by the content that they see online, leading to issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as body dysmorphia and low self-esteem. It is proven that 1 in 10 children have a mental health disorder and that child suicide rates are on the move, rising by 150%. There is no way to pinpoint the real meaning for this, however, many studies and doctors are saying that children and young adults are comparing themselves to the images they see online. This mentality increases the loss of self-worth and esteem, while at the same time encouraging teens to continue in a cycle that most find it hard to get out of.

In recent years, more young people are exposed to and subject to the more mature matters that we see appearing on these sights. It is said that, although most social media sights require you to be above the age of 13, 60% of 10–12-year-olds and 33% of 7–9-year-olds have at least one social media profile.  There are many dangers for young people on social sights, especially if the platform doesn’t have robust privacy and security settings put in place to protect them from content that could be harmful in some ways, like radicalisation or bullying. However, it is also not a secret that some people believe that social media increases access to resources and valuable tools and tips. And after the pandemic of COVID and the way social media sights helped people stay connected with friends and family, we can’t rule social media out of our lives entirely. So, what do we do? How do we combat the danger online in a safe and secure way?

One way is to incorporate better, more robust safety settings on social sights so that young children are more protected from the dangers online. Also, by reassuring young people that mental health isn’t an issue that should be shied away from, and encouraging them to open up, we can minimalize the isolated and lonely feeling that comes with having a mental health disorder. Also encouraging girls to be comfortable in who they are from a young age can sometimes help with a loss of confidence that often comes with seeing images of people’s “perfect lives” on social media.