Background: Social media use among the child and adolescent population is at an all-time high across the globe. This includes use of networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, online magazines, Internet forums, video sharing communities, and weblogs. It is of paramount importance to assess the impact that social media has on adolescent development. A growing body of research addresses social media’s effects upon adolescent friendships, identities, cognitive growth, and health. Social media use has been demonstrated to have links with adolescent depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and personality disorders. However, studies also suggest that social media may be a useful vehicle for public health education and fostering creativity.
Method: We present a review of current literature up to 2012 dealing with social media’s impact upon healthy adolescent development. We also describe various websites available for teenagers to help them deal with problems such as online bullying, and resources for parents and professionals to help educate them about how to guide young people’s use of social media.
Conclusions: Through a careful examination of the current evidence, parents, physicians, and social policymakers may determine how to best equip adolescents to use social media as a tool rather than a handicap to becoming a fully functioning adult.