The Use of Social Media on Youth Athletes


Social media has both positive and negative effects in our society today. It has taken over the way we consume information regarding news, politics, sports, consumer products, and technologies that are now available to the public. The majority of young people in America today probably couldn’t go a day without using some form of social media as it has become the only source of entertainment and tool for communication that young people use in this day and age.

For youth athletes, using social media can have a positive impact on their lives as it allows for them to consume information on what elite athletes do to prepare themselves for competition, motivational videos, and network with other people that can assist them in furthering their athletic endeavors. However, social media has made it tougher for this generation of youth athletes compared to athletes of the past for a few different reasons:

  1. High school and college coaching staffs use social media to deciding who they are looking to recruit on their future rosters. This has created the dilemma where if a youth athlete does not have a marketable social media platform, they are at a disadvantage in creating more opportunities to play at the next level. This should be a concern in the big picture because just highlights and statistics alone do not encapsulate how an athlete can impact their teams anymore. High school athletes are not given the proper guidance on how to market themselves appropriately to a target audience on how to show the type of athlete they are.
  2. It has been shown that some coaches recruit athletes based on social media status rather than on-field performance as it could improve funding or visibility for the program. While other athletes who could potentially be better fits for the program languish in the purgatory of college recruiting, athletes with larger social media presences are more likely to capture the attention of college coaches, and therefore more likely to receive a coveted scholarship and roster spot.
Athletes not only need to worry about their performance but also their social media presence. This can lead to a decreased level of mental health for millions of athletes across the country.

Other ways social media can indirectly have negative influences on youth athletes is through overconsumption, a false sense of reality, and consuming false information. Studies have shown that student-athletes at the youth level spend on average 4+ hours on their phone’s every day, with their most used social media app being on TikTok. This prevents youth athletes from dedicating a proper amount of time to studying for school or participating in other important real-life activities. These athletes, who follow elite athletes and models on social media, are shown an unhealthy diet of unrealistic expectations of what their body should look like and lead them to negative feelings towards their own body image and self esteem.

What can I do? Advice for parents and athletes.

  1. Limit your consumption of social media to a set amount of hours per day; dedicate the hours spent scrolling to learning or working on your craft physically.
  2. Be conscious of who you follow and what you interact with; just like what we eat, social media diets can effect our mental health. Follow and interact with accounts that make you feel good about yourself.
  3. Use social media appropriately; be your wonderful, amazing, and empowering self. Being authentic will not only present the best of you online but will attract those that believe in you and the goals you set for yourself.

You are in charge of your social media consumption and must remember that you are not bound by your devices. Only you can make the choices to provide yourself with the best opportunity to protect and nurture your mental health.

Think better, play better.

Your friends at MindReady.