It’s fun to hang out online. There are friends from school and even those you’ve never met and the connections are fun to have. In fact, you might have a bit of a different personality online than you do at school. You might love spending time on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Yet, if you notice that you’re spending a significant time on the Net and if you notice that it’s hard to shut down the computer for the evening, then you may be spending more time online than is healthy.
Although it’s tempting to want to spend time with friends online, too much time on the Internet can be harmful. More and more research is uncovering the fact that social media and Internet use, can be harmful to a teen’s psychological and emotional health. In fact, a recent study described on WebMD indicates that teens who spend more than two hours on social media sites are more likely to report that they have a problem. Apparently, teens who spend two hours or more per day online were more likely to describe their mental health as “poor”. And another study found that teens who are heavy social media users are actually less satisfied with their lives, tend to get into trouble more often, are sad or unhappy, and often are bored. Furthermore, there is a large amount of bullying and sexting that goes on via social media, drawing teens into circumstances that can turn risky. It’s becoming more and more clear that when teens spend too much time on the computer, the online activities affect their psychological health.
The above research indicates that two hours per day is about the right amount of online activity. Too much social media can negatively affect your academic life, work performance, and family life. It can impair focus, concentration, and a healthy mind. It may be helpful to keep track of the time you spend using online social networks. This might point out whether you’re spending too much online out of loneliness or boredom. If you find that you’re using the Internet and social media for emotional reasons, try giving yourself a set amount of time once a day to update your status, check your news feed, and read your messages. However, do your best to stick with a period of no longer than 2 hours.
You might also use those two hours for other online activity besides hanging out with friends. For instance, you might search online resources for your growth and well being. In fact, 57% of those teens who use social network sites reported that they look to their online social network for advice. And may teens turn to online searches for gaining answers on their health concerns.
If you want to test your social media use, here’s a quiz to take that will measure whether your online time is becoming a problem.
Remember that although it’s fun to connect with others online, social networking be the primary activity in your life. If it is, take a break and find another area of your life that deserves more attention – such as your education, college career, and psychological health.
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Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.