We recently observed World Mental Health Day, an international holiday that highlights the importance of mental health in an effort to bring about positive change. Adolescents’ mental health deserves extra attention in our era of social media, about which questions have been raised over psychological addiction and other problems.
Social media anxiety
A recent Facebook study found that Instagram can harm the psyche of teens, especially girls. Thirty-two percent of teenage girls said that when they felt bad, Instagram made them feel even worse. Among the frequently cited causes of stress were unrealistic standards of beauty and feelings of inadequacy about their standard of living compared to those shown on the screen.
Instagram is trying to deal with some of these problems by introducing various functions to do things like hiding the likes counter or prohibiting filters that demonstrate unrealistic beauty standards.
There are also simple steps users can take:
- Unsubscribe from accounts that make you feel sad, inadequate, unconfident or upset.
- Try to reduce the amount of time you spend online.
- Take small breaks and digitally detox to escape from social networks, relax and focus on yourself. Kaspersky has launched a digital CyberSpa space, to help you do this.
Cyberbullying is another well-known issue that can affect a teen’s mental health. Whenever it happens, it should not be tolerated or ignored.
If a teen is being bullied online, the first step is to seek help from parents or other trusted adults like a school counselor, sports coach or teacher. If the victim is uncomfortable telling friends about the problem, they can contact a helpline and talk to a professional consultant.
Today, social networks, including Instagram, actively use AI to combat abusive comments under pictures and videos. Each social platform also has tools to customize who can comment on or view your posts, as well as to block users and report cases of bullying or intimidation. It can also sometimes be useful to collect evidence in the form of screenshots to confirm what is happening.
Facebook has developed an Anti-Bullying Center for Teens. To fight against bullying on Facebook you can:
- Track who tags you on their content. This can be done in the Chronicle & Tags settings.
- Check already published materials with your tags, and, if necessary, remove them from materials you do not want to be associated with, using the Activity Log.
- Remove the aggressors from your friends list so that they will not have the opportunity to contact you. And if deleting them does not help, you can block users. Remember they will not be notified of this. Blocking will prevent abusers from finding your profile and tagging your content. In addition, they will not be able to add you as a friend and track your actions.
- Be sure to report offending materials to the support service. You can complain about content next to a post, photo or comment — this will draw the attention of Facebook moderators.
Instagram tracks the content posted by users. If the platform sees possible violations, it will notify the user that they are about to publish information that crosses the boundaries. Others steps Instagram users can take include:
- Use a restrictive tool to protect your account without notifying the dangerous users.
- Moderate comments under your posts.
- Change the privacy setting on your account to choose who can watch and comment on your content.
Twitter also has an Online Bullying help center offering help and advice. Here are steps Twitter users can take to fight bullying:
- Use Twitter’s expanded notification filters. These allow you to filter the accounts from which you receive notifications. For example, you may not receive notifications from users without a profile picture.
- Twitter has a mute and notification option that you can customize to suit your needs. For instance, you can turn off notifications for keywords or entire phrases. You can turn off notifications for a day, a month, or indefinitely.
- One effective step is also the option to block users. This will prevent blocked accounts from posting, seeing your tweets, and reading your feed.
- If you are a victim of bullying, you should also report offending content. This will allow Twitter to act and block the user or content.
TikTok is also creating various tools that allow users to limit unwanted attention. The company has produced a guide that helps to identify bullying behavior and take measures against it. Here are some features teens can use:
- Configure video privacy settings on a personal account, to choose who can view each video and restrict the upload of personal videos.
- The unwanted comments filter allows you to create a list of unwanted keywords that will be blocked in the comments on videos or during live broadcasts to protect users from bullying.
- User filter allows you to choose who can add the Duet to a user video.
- Blocking users makes it possible to block bullies who violate the community rules and notify the platform about their actions.
- Family settings keep teens safe and support them in their creative endeavors without breaking personal boundaries.
In its relatively short history, we’ve learned that social media may not always be beneficial for our mental health, even while it has other benefits. But by taking advantage of some of the tools at our disposal we can take matters into our own hands and help guide teens on a healthier path.