Wednesday , 24 April 2024

Are Teens Hurting Themselves?

North Ridgeville Stem High School students Owen Krugman, 10th Grade, Braxdon Andrassy, 9th Grade and Nick Mealey, 10th Grade

By Owen Krugman, Braxdon Andrassy and Nick Mealey, North Ridgeville Stem High School

Adolescence is a time of change for teens, and it can be a challenging time filled with unpredictable emotions and peer pressure. Unfortunately, some teens engage in behaviors that can have negative consequences on their physical, emotional, and mental health. These actions include excessive social media use, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.

Excessive Social Media Use

The biggest negative influence among teens is social media. They waste many hours of their day on social media scrolling through videos or snapping people. According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic Health System, kids spend an average of 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen. This can add up to nearly 53 hours a week on social media. Excessive use like this can lead to a lack of sleep and a messed-up sleep schedule overall. This could also lead to doing poorly in school. It has also been reported that excessive use of social media can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and depression.

Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can offer many positive results if used for short periods and if the content is controlled. Though the way our teens are abusing it now is not healthy and can have many negative effects. One of the biggest negative effects is the impact on mental health. Studies have shown that excessive social media use is linked to a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. This could be due to the constant comparison to others that takes place on social media as teens are bombarded with images and posts of their friends living their so-called “perfect lives.” This can lead to feelings of low self-worth. Additionally, social media can also be a source of cyberbullying, and it can effect teens physically.

Another negative effect of social media is its impact on physical health. Many teens who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to be inactive, which can lead to weight gain, poor nutrition, and a lack of physical fitness. Additionally, the blue light put out by screens can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Excess screen time and gaming can lead to gaining weight in several ways. First, when people spend a lot of time sitting in front of screens, they tend to be less physically active overall. Secondly, screen time and gaming promote unhealthy eating habits such as snacking on high-calorie foods or eating larger portions than they would otherwise. Finally, screen time and gaming can disrupt sleep patterns. People who spend a lot of time in front of screens may be more likely to stay up late playing games or watching TV, which can mess with teens’ sleep schedule.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Though it is a big problem, social media is not the only negative behavior that adolescent teens are exposed to. Teens are exposed to drugs and alcohol at very young ages to where they don’t know how bad it can affect them. Ann H. Crowe states “Teens who abuse drugs and alcohol are also more likely to engage in risky behavior and make poor decisions that can lead to accidents, injuries, and even death”. At first, teens may not see the risk, but over time they can develop behaviors that are even riskier for their health. Teens can prevent some of these actions by trying to stay away from the habits, or when they are under the influence, try to think about how they would act sober.

Teens don’t just gain negative habits from consuming drugs and alcohol; they can also gain mental health issues and diseases. Teens can gain any mental health issues, ranging from conduct disorders to depression and maybe even suicide. Crowe also talks about this in her article Consequences of Youth Substance Abuse: “Substance-abusing youth are at higher risk than nonusers for mental health problems, including depression, conduct problems, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, and suicide”. Since drug users are at higher risk for mental health issues, this shows that there are more risks than just the risks of overdose.

When teens are on drugs or alcohol, they are more sexually active while on drugs. When students are on drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to make risky sexual decisions. Crowe states that “Studies conducted among teens have identified an association between substance use and sexual risk behaviors, such as ever having sex, having multiple sex partners, not using a condom, and pregnancy before the age of 15 years of age”. Therefore, teens shouldn’t use drugs because it could lead them into making some decisions that are risky to their sexual health and get them into something they are not ready for.

Effects of Suicide

Both drugs & alcohol and social media will cause negative effects in the adolescent teen, and other people that indulge in both can lead to suicide. Not only is suicide is a tragic and devastating occurrence, it is one of the most leading causes of death in the U.S. to date; in the event that someone commits suicide, it not only affects the individual who takes their own life, but also their friends and family members. Adolescent teens are particularly vulnerable to suicide, and the rise of social media has added a new layer of complexity to this issue. According to Healio Physicality Studies show that because of social media 67% of participants reported feeling worse about their own lives, 73% felt pressured to post content that boosted their appearance to others, 60% felt pressured to tailor content for popularity and likes and 80% reported being affected by social media drama. When a teen dies by suicide and the news spreads on social media, it can lead to an occurrence called suicide contagion or copycat suicide. This occurs when vulnerable individuals are exposed to information about suicide and are influenced to engage in deliberate self-harm behavior through cutting, burning, or hitting oneself without conscious intent to die or indulge in suicidal behavior themselves. Social media can also contribute to the spread of harmful and inaccurate information about suicide, further exacerbating the problem.

Another negative effect of suicide in adolescent teens with the use of social media is the lasting impact on their online communities. According to The National Library of Medicine, When a teen dies by suicide, their social media accounts become a digital memorial, with friends and family members posting messages of grief and condolence. While this can provide a space for mourning and support, it can also perpetuate a culture of suicide and normalize it as an acceptable solution to these problems. In addition, these online memorials can also trigger painful memories and feelings of grief and loss for those who are struggling with mental health issues, potentially leading to their own suicidal ideation. Overall, suicide in adolescent teens with the use of social media can have a wide-ranging and long-lasting impact on both individuals and communities.

Ed. Note: Owen, Braxdon and Nick are part of a group at North Ridgeville Stem High school working on a project trying to raise awareness for bad habits in adolescents. The group wrote an article focusing on how Social Media, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, and Suicide are affecting teens.

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