Media VS Mental
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok have become tremendously popular among teenagers and young adults. Yet, a problem that many people don’t discuss enough is the link between these young people having depression and social media. Social media apps are used by 59.3 percent of the world and have a huge impact on the mental health of many. A study shows that 14 -17 years old who use social media for more than 7 hours were more than twice likely to suffer from depression (Twenge & Campbell, 2018). Most teens spending that long amount of time on social media can begin to see things that they wish they had or influencers making it seem like they should live or look a certain way. Therefore, it enables younger people to overanalyze themselves and has a negative impact on their self-esteem and body image which can lead to depression and anxiety. However, nearly 43 percent of teenagers feel pressure while posting content on social media that makes them look good in the eyes of others. Social media has become this “perfect life” standard that many people believe they must stand by. Platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram even allow people to use filters that cover any “flaws” and alter their faces to fit those perfect standards. This can create a false life that people believe they are living and without it, they no longer know who they truly are as a person. The negative effects go on and on and many people are uneducated about them and how to fix them.
One of the biggest contributors to depression and social media is bullying. Cyberbullying to be exact. Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is a form of bullying or harassment using online platforms. It has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers, as the digital sphere has expanded and technology has advanced. Studies have shown that people who are cyberbullies are at a greater risk for mental problems including lower levels of self-esteem, the feeling of loneliness, depression, and suicidal thoughts and acts. Many people forget to think before they post and as most readers know… things do not just disappear off of the internet, if anything they stay forever. Most platforms today thankfully now allow people to block an account but that does not always do the job and people will still go through extreme measures to reach the person they want to get in contact with.
Not only is there a negative impact on your mental health but it can take a toll on the physical things people could be doing instead of scrolling. Teenagers become overly obsessed with being on their social media that they push away important things such as homework, chores, and even just spending time in the real world and with people face to face. Hence, addiction to social media can not only damage the mental well-being of teens but can also affect their future. Addiction to social media also has a great impact on physical health, as they spend most of their time on these various social platforms, and they don’t do any kind of physical activities or even self-care. Due to a lack of physical activity, they are vulnerable to various heart diseases, several cancers, and most commonly obesity.
Although there are many negative things linked with social media for these young kids and adults there are ways to prevent them. The biggest suggestion is to limit the time spent on these apps. Turn off your social notifications and try substituting the scrolling with reading a book, going outside and enjoying a walk, talking to the people around you, and even a short physical activity as a replacement. Another helpful tip is if it is a must to be on the platforms, limit what you choose to see. Only follow positive accounts, don’t dig into anything that doesn’t bring positivity. Try to block people and posts that make you feel bad about yourself and follow people who normalize things you are interested in. The best way to prevent depression linked with social media is to detach yourself completely. Find a new hobby outside of the online world. Possibly a pottery class or a yoga session with friends. Allow yourself to live in real time vs. the fantasy world you've made on your phone screen. Unplugging allows you to be more mindful of the present world and can play a positive role in your life.
Twenge, Jean M., et al. “Underestimating Digital Media Harm.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 17 Apr. 2020, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-0839-4.