The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

March 20, 2014

Study: Internet sharing increases drama, stress for teens

DANVILLE — Social media allows people to be connected to others at the press of a button, but a recent study suggests that may not be such a good thing.

Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association released a study showing that, on a scale of one to 10, teens rated their stress levels at about 5.8, compared to 5.1 for adults. The report specifically refers to teenage girls feeling increased social pressure from social media, particularly on being judged on their appearance, said Dr. Nicole Quinlan, a Geisinger pediatric psychiatrist.

In addition, Quinlan regularly sees teenagers in her practice, boys and girls, who visit her for other symptoms but also mention acts of stress, teasing or bullying that come about as a result of using social media.

“The majority of teens have experienced stresses related to those online interactions,” she said.

In previous generations, both good and bad socializing for teens tended to stop when they came home from school. Now, they can happen at any time, Quinlan said.

“With social media and the ability to be literally connected to people 24 hours a day … that’s led to both more positive contacts and also the inability to escapes some of the negative or stressful things.”

Kahsean Bohner, a junior at Danville High School and frequent Facebook user, agreed that too much social media can lead to drama in the real world.

“There’s a lot of fights that go on,” he said. Other classmates have written threats on Facebook posts of people Kahsean knows, which led to physical fights taking place later.

Kahsean stays away from the drama, but it would be hard for him to quit Facebook. “I like to socialize, I’m a social person,” he said.

Danville High School senior Francesca Fortunato is also a Facebook user, but she mainly uses it as a news resource and not as much for social interaction. She still sees it as a source of drama among her peers, though.

“If somebody gets mad at you … it seems it can involve more people if you post it on the Internet,” she said. And once something is online, “everyone has the right to comment, like it or put in their two cents,” she said.

Over the past few years, when Facebook and other forms of social media have become especially popular among teens, most of her classmates have gotten into some sort of fight or argument based on a social media post.

However, she believes social media can also be an outlet for good interactions as well. “I wouldn’t say it’s extremely harmful,” she said, as long as it’s used in moderation.

Quinlan agrees. “There is a need to do everything in moderation,” she said, noting, like Fortunato, that there are several positive points to social media as well, such as sharing stories with and getting support from friends. The key is learning how to engage in it wisely, she said.

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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