No one can deny the revolutionary effects of social media on our daily lives. Social media platforms continue to proliferate, making it possible for users to instantly communicate with people from all over the world.
But there are numerous negative outcomes for teenagers who spend excessive time on social media. Teens’ sleep hygiene is greatly impacted when they use screens like phones or computers in the hours leading up to bedtime. The blue light emitted by electronic devices has been linked to sleep disruption and insomnia. Regeneration and repair occur while we sleep, but blue light tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Many health problems can be exacerbated by a lack of sleep, and it also makes day-to-day life more difficult.
OPTIMAL AMOUNT OF SLEEP FOR ADOLESCENTS
Teenagers need 9.5 hours of sleep a night, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Because their bodies and minds are both undergoing changes associated with puberty, adolescents have greater sleep requirements than younger children. Teenagers, like adults, undergo physiological changes that cause them to adopt a new sleep-wake schedule. Even though their bodies don’t start producing melatonin (the “sleepy” hormone) until around 11 p.m., many teenagers feel more at home staying up late.
Adequate rest is crucial for adolescents to handle the pressures of these transitions and their growing academic and social responsibilities. While adolescents typically don’t start to feel sleepy until much later in the evening, it’s still important to encourage them to get some shut-eye as soon as possible. Teens who have established regular, restful sleep routines are less likely to experience mood disorders like depression and anxiety and have a greater impact on society.
IS THERE A SAFE LIMIT TO ADOLESCENTS’ SOCIAL MEDIA USE?
Columbia University found that teens should limit their daily social media use to no more than three hours. Some teenagers spend nearly all of their time online, which negatively impacts their relationships with family and peers. No social media platform can be considered risk-free, so it’s important to remember that we should treat them all with caution. Boundaries around social media use are important for parents, as is modelling appropriate behaviour, such as putting down your phone during family meals and outings. When it comes to social media, you don’t have to take an all-or-nothing stance. Using it after homework is done rather than right before bed is one way to limit exposure to these platforms and devices.
It’s possible to become addicted to social media because it stimulates the brain’s reward circuits. As one of the most common means of teen communication, social media platforms present a unique environment in which teens may be influenced to misuse or overuse the medium. The number of likes a photo receives on social media can train the brain to focus on something that is not important in the real world. If the brain is trained to focus on these abstract indicators of social standing, it risks losing proficiency in reading others’ emotions and other social cues. Negative effects on mental health, including diminished sense of self-worth, have been linked to excessive use of social media. The following are some additional ways in which adolescents are impacted by social media:
TEEN DEPRESSION: A GROWING EPIDEMIC
Teen depression has increased in part because of the toxic environment that young people find themselves immersed in on social media. Spending too much time online has negative effects on one’s schoolwork and interpersonal relationships. Depression can worsen in the absence of treatment, resulting in fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns, apathy, and even suicidal thoughts. Cognitive behavioural therapy and other strategies aimed at improving sleep hygiene, such as limiting screen time before bed, may be helpful for depressed adolescents.
A survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in 2017 found that the use of social media among teenagers in India was linked to sleep deprivation and poor academic performance. The survey found that 60% of teenagers in India were not getting enough sleep due to late-night use of social media, and this lack of sleep was affecting their academic performance.
In addition, a study conducted by the Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing in 2019 found that excessive social media use was associated with increased levels of anxiety and depression among teenagers in India. These negative psychological effects can also impact their academic performance.
Overall, these studies suggest that the impact of social media on sleep patterns and academic performance in teenagers is a global issue, including in India. To address the negative impact of social media on sleep patterns and academic performance in teenagers, there are several steps that parents, educators, and healthcare professionals can take:
Educate teenagers: It is important to educate teenagers about the negative impact of excessive social media use on their sleep patterns. They need to understand the importance of getting enough sleep and focusing on their studies.
Set limits on social media use: Parents and educators should set limits on the amount of time teenagers spend on social media. For example, they can establish rules about not using social media during study hours or before bedtime.
Social media use close to bedtime can impair sleep quality and increase the risk of a variety of sleep disorders. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the rules parents establish regarding Internet and smartphone use before bed will mitigate the presumed negative impact of social media use on sleep. For instance, they are not permitted to bring their smartphone or tablet into their bedroom before bed time and to leave their device in another room.
Encourage physical activity: Encouraging physical activity can help teenagers to get better sleep and improve their academic performance. Parents and educators should encourage teenagers to participate in physical activities like sports or exercise.
Monitor social media use: Parents and educators should monitor teenagers’ social media use to ensure that they are not spending excessive amounts of time on social media. They can use parental control software or apps to monitor their teenagers’ social media activity.
Promote healthy sleep habits: Parents and educators should promote healthy sleep habits among teenagers. This includes encouraging them to establish a regular sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and electronics before bedtime, and creating a sleep-friendly environment.
Provide support for mental health: Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by social media use. Parents and educators should provide support for teenagers who are struggling with mental health issues and encourage them to seek professional help if needed.
Overall, a multifaceted strategy is required to combat the negative effects of social media on adolescent sleep. Parents, educators, and healthcare professionals can help adolescents succeed academically and personally by promoting healthy social media use habits and prioritising sleep and academic obligations.