The invention of social media has introduced us to a world in which our impossibilities can become possibilities. Lives around the world are constantly evolving and changing for the better. The world is more connected than ever, people who’ve never had chances for their voices to be valid are now able to be heard beyond their constricting borders.
Those are the benefits that Social media has produced benefits but let us not forget the negative impacts that Social media has produced too. Humanity has developed a dependence on social media. The results of this dependence have brought about detrimental effects on mental health. Frequent use of social media has been shown to create feelings of isolation and unhappiness in the long run.
Social media affects our mental health without us even realizing it.
Instagram, one of the most popular social media platforms made it to the news for suppressing likes in attempts to hinder users from comparing themselves to others and to get rid of the associated feelings that come with the popularity of creating content. This action definitely does not remove the comparisons and feedback that come with the engagement of social media because people are still comparing themselves and posting comments regardless of the efforts that Instagram has implemented. However, it’s a small step in the right direction.
Apart from being a social engagement platform, social media is mentally stimulating. Using it activates the brain by releasing dopamine, a hormone associated with happiness and pleasure.
These platforms are designed to be addictive and are linked with anxiety and depression. According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S use social media leave alone the statics worldwide.
Here are 4 ways social media is negatively affecting your mental health.
- Limits Human to Human Connection
It is extremely hard to create a personal bond with a fellow human being when you are constantly glued to your screens. Sometimes people find social media very convenient for them because, in reality, they are socially anxious. This often leads to one knowing a digital version of a person rather than their real-life persona’s.
- Affects Self-Esteem
Social media creates a distorted image of appearances and reality. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat increase the probability of seeing unrealistic, filtered photos at a time when young people are going through adolescence. Perfection is unattainable, but apps that provide users with airbrushing, teeth whitening, and more filters are making normal people look perfect.
We all have our insecurities but constantly comparing yourself to those distorted images creates feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness. It has become hard for young people to tell what is real and what isn’t which can be emotionally and mentally draining. As a result, body image for both boys and girls are wrecked.
Also, Higher use of social media leads to ‘body surveillance.’ Body surveillance means observing your own body and becoming judgmental of it. This often leads to feelings of hating your own body and leading to a poor body image.
Adults are also vulnerable to plastic surgeons receiving requests from patients who want to look like their filtered Instagram and Snapchat photos. A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen discovered that many people suffer from ‘Facebook envy’. Those who abstained from using the popular site reported to be quite satisfied with their lives.
You can focus on yourself and boost your own self-confidence by becoming aware of the time you spend scrolling through other people’s profiles.
- Sleep Disruption
Getting enough sleep is essential for the human body. In a 2018 British study, social media use was tied to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor attention span.
We are all guilty of using our phones a moment just before we sleep which makes it harder for us to attain some sleep. The light that our mobile phones emit suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone responsible for making us tired.
And getting excited or worked up with anxiety from what you see on social media keeps the brain active and alert thus preventing you from sleeping.
Always opt for reading a book before bed instead or avoid using your phone an hour before bed and notice a difference in the quality of sleep you get.
- Mental Health
The use of social media does not only cause unhappiness but can also lead to the development of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It is still unclear whether using social media leads to depression and anxiety symptoms or if people who are suffering from depression or anxiety are using social media, but research suggests that social media can lead to symptoms to a certain degree. A study from 2020 proved that people who deactivated their Facebook account for a month reported lower depression and anxiety as well as an increase in happiness and self-satisfaction.
Cyberbullying is a huge negative impact that has come with social media. It is linked to higher suicide rates than face-to-face bullying because victims of cyberbullying cannot really get away from it because it stays online which is permanent. 72% of American teens say that they have been cyberbullied at a certain point.
You can avoid becoming the next statistic by recognizing your triggers. What makes you anxious or lonely? Observe how different social media platforms make you feel too. Some platforms bring about empowerment and are educative while others are mentally draining. Limit your time to 10 minutes a day and replace the countless hours you use on social media and substitute it with an activity you enjoy.
Social media use 2018: Demographics and statistics. (2018, March 1). Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/