The use of social media has skyrocketed over the past decade. The growing number of people on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and now TikTok has garnered concern among not just policymakers but teachers, parents, and clinicians. They are worried about the impact of social media on our lives, mental health, and psychological well-being.
Like most things in life, social media has both positive and negative sides. Let’s have a look at both:
Without a doubt, social media has offered us great convenience and connectivity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, much like Spectrum TV and other cable plans, it has helped us stay entertained and connected with the world. Here are some ways it has been a positive influence in our lives:
- It keeps us connected with friends, family, and the whole world through email, text, and video
- We have quick access to information and research as and when you like
- One can pay bills and perform banking functions at our fingertips
- Learning a new skill, acquiring a certification, and content discovery on YouTube is easier than ever
Now let’s have a look at how social media is affecting our lives negatively:
Social media is like a drug. Getting likes, comments, shares and followers gives your brain a dose of dopamine and other happy hormones. The notifications that pop up on your screen are like a reward for your brain. Everything you do on social media is filled with mood modifying experiences. You get happy when a friend responds to your post and sad and when no one says a word!
Fear of missing out has now become a common theme. It makes you want to check your social media accounts constantly like opening the fridge, again and again, to see if there’s any food. Even if there’s nothing new, the thought of not being online can take a toll on your mental health.
Another thing about social media that’s taking a toll on our mental health is the social comparison. Let’s say you are already unhappy with your current circumstances and you see your friends posting pictures of traveling or getting their dream job. This type of comparison can lead to problems such as depression and self-esteem.
Negativity and Rumors
People thought WhatsApp could access their private chats. WhatsApp later on clarified that with the end-to-end encryption, nobody, not even WhatsApp access or read your private chats.
Depression and Anxiety
Numerous studies show that depressive symptoms such as the feeling of worthlessness, low mood, and hopelessness are some of the feelings students have experienced because of online interactions.
The more time you spend on social media and the more social media accounts you have, the higher your anxiety symptoms.
We have had a look at the good and the bad. Now it’s time to have a look at the ugly. Unfortunately, there is an ugly side of technology and its cyber bullying which is not like normal bullying.
Verbal, written, and electronic expression of rudeness like this has led to several negative implications among youngsters. Here are some threats of cyberbullying:
- It has the power to cause physical and emotional harm to students
- It places youngsters in reasonable fear of harm to themselves. They might as well damage something in rage
- It creates a hostile, threatening, intimidating, and abusive environment
- As a result of getting bullied, students refrain from participating in social and academic activities
- The worst-case scenario of cyberbullying is suicide.
Is Social Media all Bad?
Definitely not. But too much of everything can be bad for health and the same phenomena apply here. Social media is great for communicating, staying in touch with the world, and promoting your business. At the same time, it is harmful to one’s mental health.
The question is how to reduce its negative implications? The best way to do that is to realize the problem. Stop and take a look at your social media consumption. Are you addicted or do you have everything in control? Identify how it’s hurting you or your mental health and plan out a digital detox. Create healthy boundaries across the usage of this social media to actually take advantage of it.