We all live in a society where everybody these days is very active on social media. The rise or hike in the usage of social media is also because of the global pandemic. It becomes one of the basic amenities of a person’s life. The thing is that everything has some pros and cons. It depends and differs from person to person. Many believe that social media is responsible for creating mental health problems. Research has been conducted and there were two outcomes of mental health:
- Anxiety – a condition with exaggerated tension, worrying, and nervousness about daily life events.
- Depression – a condition or a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
Mental health is a state of well-being that makes you able to understand your abilities to do different day-to-day tasks. These tasks can be solving day-to-day life problems, working aptitude, and making contributions to others’ lives as well .
Many believe that social media is important in maintaining mental health. Whereas others believe that it causes negative impacts on the minds of the people. They have linked the use of social media to depression, anxiety, poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, hyperactivity, etc.
However, these studies that have been conducted so far are based on observation and on the grounds of correlation. In simple words, it does not establish any kind of fact that one is causing the other.
Is social media responsible for causing depression?
Research has been conducted by the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. According to this research, there is a relation between the use of social media and negative effects on the well-being of a person. This negative effect can be described as depression and loneliness. If you use social media not very frequently, you can be less depressed and less lonely. Because less social media use, naturally adds a qualitative approach to your well-being. The outcomes of the research show that the people who were less active on social media (because the total elimination of the users cannot be possible) had better mental health outcomes .
The rise in the usage of social media (mostly among young people) co-relates with the rise in mental health problems. According to the MHA (Mental Health America), the number of youths who experienced a major depressive episode in 2021 increased by 206,000 from the previous year. According to the data of CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), the attempts to suicide among teenagers rise by the value of 31 percent. From 2019 to 2020.
All these facts point out that somehow social media is responsible for causing depression as well as loneliness.
How does it affect the person?
Now the question comes, ‘how does social media affect the mental health of a person?.’ It can be understood with an example, let us say you have a friend, who went on a vacation in some European country, enjoying the weather and all. Whereas you are sick and stuck at home. They posted something on their social media profile, and you come across that feed that they have posted and now you suddenly have an urge to do the same. But because of your condition, you are unable to do so. And now you feel that something is missing in your life, and you are unable to understand what it is. You keep on thinking about it and then you get depressed because you are unable to figure out what it is. Ironically, with the help of social media, people can experience both the feeling that is helping and hurting at the same time. This is one way that shows social media affects the mental state of a person. On the other hand, if we consider the last two years of the global pandemic because of the Coronavirus, social media becomes the only way of interaction among family and friends during those harsh times. Hence, it can be said that it helps people in maintaining the flow of proper communication even in times of isolation. In this way, it acts as a mental and emotional lifeline. Social media also helps in connecting people who have similar interests like; hobbies, social or political aspects, etc.
There is no doubt that it can take a toll on the mental, emotional, and physical health of an individual. A survey has been conducted by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Norway that the usage of social media to avoid the feeling of depression, and loneliness and using it for entertainment depicts the poor mental health quality of an individual. Whereas, on the other hand, using social media for maintaining personal contact as well as communication with family, friends, and acquaintances shows better mental health for an individual .
Factors responsible for making negative impacts of social media on people
There are certain factors that are responsible for the negative impact of social media on the lives of people. These factors can be categorized as;
- Fear of missing out: Fear of missing out is a mental health effect and it is strongly linked to the use of social media. It can be described as a feeling, in which a person personally wants his or her inclusion and social interaction or social standing.
- Exposure to inappropriate content: Exposure to inappropriate content is another major problem that many people face because of social media. Sometimes the user might get exposed to content that he or she does not need to.
- Exposure to upsetting or traumatic content: Sometimes users might indulge in a type of content that is very traumatizing or upsetting and it can make that individual depressed and stressed.
- Exposure to online predators: Online predators are dangerous and if the user gets exposed to any one of them, they can harm that user in a way that can be very traumatizing and depressing.
- Exposure to cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is another major problem that a person can face when he is exposed to social media. It is defined as the aggression that people do through digital technology.
- Access to inaccurate information: Sometimes social media might lead the user to information that is not accurate. And it can create problems for users in numerous ways.
Effects of social media on an individual
There has been a survey was conducted by Express VPN. In this survey 1500 Americans took part and it is concluded that; 86 percent of the age criteria 16 to 24 years of age reported the negative impacts of social media. Additional points that can be derived from this survey are as follows ;
- 85 % of them report the negative effect of social media on self-esteem.
- 85 % of them report the negative effects of self-imaging.
- 83 % of them report an increase in the problem of anxiety.
- 81% of them report an increment in the feeling of loneliness.
- 79 % of them report an increase in the problem of depression.
Thus, we can say, the negative effects of social media on an individual are very lethal and can be depressing.
How can you avoid the negative impacts of social media on your life?
There are certain measures that you can take to avoid the negative impacts of social media on your life and these measures are listed below;
- Finding the balance in a world with social media: Never try to implement all the things that you see on social media in your life. Always make a balance between the two to have a safer user interface.
- Monitoring and managing the use: always monitor and manage your social media usage because people get very deeply indulged while using it.
- Have social media-free weekends: try to avoid using social media, go out and explore and spend some quality time with your friends or family.
- Having a conversation: do not indulge in “chatting.” Moreover, try to have proper and interactive communication with your peers, friends, or family members.
After two years of relative isolation, social media use has reached peak levels in young people. It cannot be eliminated from society, but its usage can be altered. It has both positive and negative features. Hence, one should know the difference between the two.
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