Pennsylvania Opioid Prevention Project

Is social media stressing teens out? Experts worry that social media has become so integral to teenage life and that it is inducing feelings of increased anxiety and low self-esteem, taking a mental toll on a developing brain. And without healthy behaviors in place to help ease these uncomfortable feelings, young people may use alcohol or substances, including opioids, as a way to cope and feel better.
A survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health asked 14-24 year olds how social media platforms impacted their health and wellbeing. The survey results found that users of social media platforms including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram reported negative side effects of social media use, including:


  • Increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness
  • Poor communication skills and lack of giving or interpreting social cues
  • Cyber bullying
  • Fear of missing out
  • Poor sleep
  • Heightened stress, depression and anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unreasonable expectations of sexual norms, difficulty in forming healthy sexual relationships or developing risky sexual behaviors


Teens experience social media interactions by sorting through “likes,” getting real time feedback on how followers admire or approve them or their appearance. Many adolescents strive to be “cool,” and in the age of social media they are faced with more opportunities—and more traps—than ever before. To cope with insecurities, fears and stresses that may arise as a result of social media use, teens may turn to alcohol or other substances, including opioids.


>> Learn how to navigate the up and the downsides of social media