The world we know is growing everyday and the internet along with it. And as we know, there are advantages and disadvantages of social media. Research has shown that a good number of people facing emotional trauma and stress is as a result of the negativity on social media. We can do little to change this; but we can try to watch how much time we spend on the internet.
In the paragraphs below, i have carefully explained what social media is and how it relates to our mental health, the benefits and downsides of social media on our mental health and solutions to the effects of social media.
Definition of Social Media and How it Relates to Mental Health.
According to Wikipedia, social media are interactive digitally mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing\exchange of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.
Simply put, social media is an internet-based technology that helps us share ideas information and build connections around the world. Social media has its god parts and bad parts. Most people have become addicted to it; always checking if their views have reached a thousand or any desired number. It has become their life. Others have found ways to use it as a source of income. But what some fail to realize is that this technology has taken over and has effects on the mental health some people cant do without it and constantly go online to keep up with what is happening around them. Keep in mind i’m not saying that trying to know what is happening around you is wrong but when it is done excessively it becomes a problem.
Disadvantages of Social Media
Studies have shown that an excessive use of social media has a high risk of causing depression, anxiety, suicide thoughts and low self-esteem. Below we will look at the disadvantages of social media.
1. Social Comparison: Comparison is something humans do on reflex. It is a way to find ourselves or create an identity. Social comparison in a good light can inspire people but it can also cause harm to their self-esteem and how they view themselves. Social media intensifies the impact of social comparison. Youths begin to compare themselves to their peers and celebrities or people they have come to idolize. They see the achievements or way of life of others and start to feel like they haven’t done anything good enough. This begins to cause a lot of guilt and envy.
2. Depression: The less time people spend on interacting on a physical level with their peers and more on the social level, the more we get a high increase in depression and anxiety. I and a friend got talking and she said, “I know half of what we see on social media isn’t true but i cant help but feel that they are doing a lot better.” This is what a lot of people especially youths feel and think. Research shows that people who interact with others physically and on social media have less tendencies of feeling depressed and anxious than people who focus all their time on social media.
3. Cyber-bullying: A very common disadvantage of social media platforms is cyber bullying. Cyber-bullying is a misuse of digital devices to send, share and post mean and disturbing contents of others. A good number of teens have faced harassment, intimidation and aggression. social media has taken bullying to a larger plane field. On places like twitter, you can see a whole lot of savagery, bullying and harassment, most of them, unjustified and all of them unnecessary. Cyber-bullying is a cause for concern because it is responsible for half the problems of social media. It results to depression, loneliness, low self-esteem and social phobia.
4. Insecurity: Insecurity is an uncertainty or anxiety about oneself. It is a lack of confidence. Social media causes most of its users to compare their standard of living with what they see on the internet. They preoccupy themselves with their own imperfections which eventually causes insecurity and jealousy.
Benefits of Social Media
In as much as there are the disturbing parts of social media, it has its benefits.
1. Make new friends: Social media connects people with new friends everyday. There are sites for this purpose such as, kik, facebook, meetup, snapchat and a lot more. Research shows that more than 92% of people spend time with friends on social media and make new friends daily.
2. Strengthens connections/bonds: Social media can be a good way to maintain and build connections with family and friends. A healthy relationship with our family is needed especially in the case of a long distance relationship between friends and family. The internet helps you to stay connected. When people have good relationships with friends, they not only feel connected but it provides encouragement and gives a feeling of approval or self-determination.
3. Improve views: To improve views, people need to do more to educate themselves. There is a lot of useful and un-useful things on social media. It is left for its users to connect with what interests them and easily track recent events around them.
4. Express yourself: A lot of people agree that there are disadvantages of social media but they also agree that social media but they also agree that social media helps them express themselves. Social media gives people a sense of importance. Some people are shy in real life but have more confidence behind their gadgets such as phones, computers etc. It enhances creative minds. A whole lot of people make videos of themselves that inspire others and pushes them to want to express themselves. It helps to build a certain level of self-esteem.
I have talked about the pro’s and con’s of social media on mental health now in the next sub-heading i will explain the solutions.
Solutions to the Effects of Social Media on Mental Health.
1. Know when to stop: Social media has effects on mental health as i have explained previously. We can not completely stop using it therefore learning to minimize its use is very important. Know when to stop scrolling!
2. Limit the amount of time spent on social platforms: To avoid the untimely effects of social media on your mental health, learn to cut down the amount of time you spend on various social media platforms. Most of the time when people log on to their different social platforms, they keep themselves busy with the lives of others and reflect on how theirs isn’t perfect. So its important that there is a proper discipline on the use of social media.
3. Social media should be used as a means to connect with people that inspire and bring out the best in you. Connect with people and communities that help you to grow as a person.
4. Engage in real life connections. While visiting social media platforms to keep yourself updated on what is happening with your friends and family don’t forget to see them in person. A physical connection can help give you a sense of belonging(one of the basic needs of humans) and builds stronger bonds.
We have seen the upside and downside of social media. Many people have become obsessed with social platforms. They experience depression, insecurity and other effects of social media but are unable to stop posting, viewing, liking and other activities because of how hooked they have become.
To the nurses and doctors , when patients are brought in with any psychological problems the question “How often do you use social media?” should be asked. This will help to really know and understand where the problem might be coming from.