Home Cyberpsychology & Technology How You Can Leverage Social Media to Help the Mental Health of Teenagers

How You Can Leverage Social Media to Help the Mental Health of Teenagers

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The pandemic was hard on everyone, but kids and teens may have suffered the most. Online classes via Zoom led to feelings of isolation, which in turn, led to feelings of depression and anxiety. According to the CDC, emergency room visits for teen suicide attempts increased by more than 30% in 2020. Girls were especially hard-hit, with suspected suicide attempts increasing by more than 50%. Not only that, many kids fell seriously behind academically.

Once kids were able to return to in-class learning, they remained isolated behind plastic barriers at their desks, as well as behind masks.

School-enforced mask mandates had a serious effect, not only on mental health, but also physical well-being; for example, there were several incidents of student-athletes passing out while forced to wear masks during competitions. There were also incidents of abuse, such as teachers taping masks to children’s faces, or tying a mask to a disabled child’s face without the parent’s knowledge. Students were not only afraid of a virus, but also of the discomfort, isolation, and potential abuse related to mask-wearing.

Unfortunately, once the vaccine was made available for teens, those who declined it were subject to further isolation and were even banned from going to their prom. Many universities and colleges dropped unvaccinated students, refusing to refund their tuition or even allow them to take online classes.

As you can see, the measures that were meant to keep students safe often made them feel isolated and even threatened. It may take years for many of these kids to recover emotionally, but there are ways you can help.

Positive apps for teens

As Marina Turea of Digital Authority Partners points out, mental health apps were key in helping teens through the pandemic. While face-to-face human intervention is essential for anyone in crisis, smartphone apps can help teens who feel stressed and alone.

Mindfulness and meditation apps teach not only mental relaxation techniques but also ways to cope with stress. As reported on the NIH website mediation and mindfulness apps are recommended for anyone feeling stressed due to the reaction to COVID-19. Best of all, mindfulness and meditation apps can teach teens positive mental and emotional habits for a lifetime.

Behavioural apps can help teens deal with substance abuse and self-harm issues. Of course, these serious issues need in-person, professional help, but apps can help during an episode.

While interacting in-person with a therapist is preferable, app-based therapy is available. This could be useful for a teen in a rural community that doesn’t have a psychologist. However, these apps may require parental permission and insurance coverage. They can provide live chat and video conferencing with a licensed therapist.

As you know, teens spend a lot of time on their smartphones. But, in addition to playing games and watching Tik-Tok videos, teens can also use apps that add to their mental and emotional well-being. If you’re interested in building mental health apps for teens, be sure that you consult with a licensed mental health professional.

Social media helped teens through the pandemic

During normal times, teens look to social media not only for entertainment but also for social validation. As you might imagine, social media usage by teens surged during the peak of Covid restrictions.

While social media has been a prime way to spread fear concerning Covid, it also provided much-needed social support. Despite the negativity, social media gave teens a way to be proactive in supporting their emotional and mental well-being. It allowed them to maintain connections with their friends, find solutions, and gain emotional comfort.

A survey found that 53% of young people considered the support of social media very important during pandemic restrictions. Around one-third reported that social media helped to keep them informed about the pandemic and current events. The same survey also found that social media was especially important to adolescents suffering from anxiety and depression.

Leveraging social media to help teen mental health

If you have a mental health, mindfulness, or meditation app appropriate for teens, social media is the perfect place to promote it. Not only that, you can use your social media accounts to post insightful tips to help teens learn to manage their mental and emotional issues. 

A study found that social media has the potential to promote positive mental attitudes to teens since they often use the internet and social media to look for mental health information. The platforms can be used to promote all types of healthy habits, as well as guide people to the help they need. 

The key to crafting a social media campaign aimed at teens is to meet them where they are, which means creating content specific to each platform. For example, a Tik-Tok campaign would consist of short, fun videos, while you’d likely need to buy ads for a Reddit campaign. Also, the social media platforms favored by young people can change quickly.

One thing to keep in mind when targeting adolescents on social media is that they are below the age of consent. This will influence what you can, can’t, and shouldn’t market to teens. However, positive content that promotes a healthy lifestyle is great for people of all ages.

If you have developed an app that promotes a healthy lifestyle, it can certainly help teens with mental health and emotional issues. That not only includes meditation, mindfulness, and behavioral apps but also exercise and healthy eating apps. Apps like these can help young people build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Recovering from the trauma of the pandemic

Teens are not the only ones mentally and emotionally scarred by the reaction to the pandemic, elderly people were also disproportionately affected. Working-age people have also been deeply affected, not only by fear but also by widespread mandates.

In the coming years, health and wellness apps may play a key role in emotional recovery from the pandemic. This not only presents an opportunity for app developers to produce a successful app but also to help heal mental and emotional scars.

Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.

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