Social Media and Technology: How They Impact Teen Depression

Noah Warren
August 11, 2023

Teen depression is a widespread mental health concern that affects millions of adolescents worldwide. It can lead to symptoms such as apathy, sadness, irritability, and loss of interest in activities. Social media and technology are an integral part of modern-day life, but their impact on adolescent mental health has become a topic of concern.

In this blog post, we will explore the link between social media, technology, and teen depression. By understanding this complex relationship, we can better support adolescents' mental health in the digital age.

teen depression

Social Comparison Theory

Social comparison theory suggests that individuals have an innate drive to compare themselves to others. Social media platforms provide a constant stream of information and images, which can lead to self-comparison. Adolescents who frequently compare themselves to others may experience lower self-esteem and increased depressive symptoms. A study found that "adolescents who reported high levels of social comparison behaviors on social media reported more depressive symptoms." It's crucial to recognize that social comparison theory is not unique to social media, but social media can provide a platform that amplifies these comparisons.


Cyberbullying is a significant concern for adolescents on social media and other digital platforms. Cyberbullying can take various forms, such as spreading rumors, posting derogatory comments or photos, or sharing private information online. Cyberbullying can lead to feelings of humiliation, depression, and in some cases, suicide. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that "cyberbullied victims have more than twice the odds of depressive symptoms compared with non-victims." Parents, teachers, and caregivers should be aware of the signs of cyberbullying and take appropriate steps to prevent it.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) refers to the anxiety or worry that something exciting or interesting is happening elsewhere. Social media can create a sense of FOMO, and adolescents may feel the need to keep up to date with their friends' activities and events. This constant connection can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. A study found that "FOMO was associated with greater depressive symptoms and addictive social media behavior." Encouraging adolescents to take breaks from social media and technology can help reduce FOMO-related stress.

Reduced Face-to-Face Interaction

In the digital age, adolescents spend more time interacting with people through screens than in person. This shift can lead to reduced face-to-face interaction and a lack of social support. Social support is crucial for positive mental health outcomes, and reduced face-to-face interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. A study found that "young people who reported high levels of social media and technology use also reported lower levels of face-to-face social support." Encouraging adolescents to seek out peer support through in-person interactions can help mitigate the effects of social media and technology use.


Social media and technology are here to stay, but their impact on adolescent mental health is a growing concern. Teen depression is a complex condition that can be exacerbated by social media and technology use. By understanding the link between these factors, we can better support adolescents' mental health in the digital age.

Parents, teachers, and caregivers can take steps to promote positive mental health outcomes by encouraging face-to-face interactions, monitoring social media use, and addressing cyberbullying and FOMO-related stress. By creating a supportive environment, we can help adolescents thrive both online and offline.

Nurturing teen mental health in the digital era? Connect with Roots Mental Wellness for guidance. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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Noah Warren
Director of Business Development