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Is Your Teen’s Social Media Use Dangerous?

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Does social media harm teens? The answer is complicated.Alarming news reports and research on social media are common — and understandably troubling to caregivers and professionals — today.

One recent study found that teens who reported spending more than 3 hours a day on social media may face an elevated risk for mental health problems compared to teens who used no social media.1 Instagram’s internal study found that its app worsens mental health in teen girls.2 And that platform is one of several that have been hit with lawsuits claiming harm to youth.345However, that is not the full story.

While some studies have documented associations between social media use and negative mental health outcomes, others have found no correlations, or even positive mental health associations, like increased sense of community (especially for marginalized groups) and stronger social connections.67 In fact, research at large has not established a causal link between social media use and negative mental health outcomes.Digital media, social media, and other technologies are unavoidable.

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