Effects of Social Media on Your Mental Health
Social media plays an important part of our everyday lives. It lets us interact with friends and family on a daily basis, maintain friendships over long distances and easily get in touch with long-lost acquaintances. Despite these great advantages, social media has been shown to have negative effects on the mental well-being of individuals.
Social Media is Addictive
While experts have not reached a consensus on whether or not anything like internet addiction exists, much less social media addiction. A recent review from Nottingham Trent University that examined the correlation between psychological characteristics, personality, and social media use concluded that Facebook may possibly be addictive after all. Several characteristics that show addictive behavior include, neglect of personal life, escapism, and concealment of the addictive behavior. This was clearly observed in the lives of people who appear to be heavily dependent on social media. Further studies have shown a withdrawal like symptoms when these people have been unable to use these social networks for a period of time.
Mentally Unhealthy Social Comparison
For teens and especially girls, the pressure to appear perfect is always there. The term ‘perfect’ in this context will usually include unrealistic body image, worrying about popularity and the amount of likes on their Facebook or Instagram posts. These can all contribute to stress, self-doubt and self-loathing. When friends appear more popular or more glamorous on social media, this often leads to depression, feelings of social isolation, and loneliness.
Increased Risk from Increased Time
We’ve discussed how social media is likely to be addictive. This addiction and increased time may induce psychological conditions such as dysmorphia, low self-esteem as well as sleep disorders. The level of these conditions and pressure will be proportional to the level of emotional investment and time spent on a particular social media website.
Feelings of Jealousy & Sadness
Social comparison has been discussed as one of the ills of social media. Seeing others supposedly doing better than themselves on social media can induce feelings of envy and jealousy. A study on Facebook has shown that some episodes lead to bullying and even self harm. The study further showed that these incidents can lead to long term depression.
Whilst it’s taken a while, the dark side to social media is finally gaining the attention needed. But with good communication and education, it can help to curtail the negative impact on young people. With good parental supervision recommended, to monitor the time their children spend on social media. Other initiatives such as not allowing phones at the dinner table and turning Wi-fi off at bedtime, can also be effective.
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