How social media affects mental health

Social media plays a huge part in our lives, everywhere you go you’re bound to see somebody connected to their phone, tablet, or laptop. Social media can have a positive effect on people’s mental health, for starters –

1) “Likes” and “shares” can really make a person happy. The fact that a friend, family member, or total stranger agrees with your thoughts, opinions, or likes your work is music to the ears. It creates a feeling of accomplishment and eases the mind.

2) In can improve socialization. At the 119th annual American Psychological Association Dr. Larry D. Rosen  presented some fascinating data that suggested that introverted adolescents could  benefit from using social media as it may help them gain better social skills. According to Dr. Rosen’s research shy individuals may feel better when online because it can give them a sense of safety because they can easily contact friends, family, or see what’s going on in the world and share or discuss it with others.

3) It’s a small world after all. Well actually no, it’s quite large. However, thanks to social media people can find friends and relatives they haven’t seen in years and easily message them no matter how big the distance between them is.

Sounds great, right? Well, social media can also have negative effects on ones mental health too, such as…

1) FOMO. What is “FOMO” exactly? Well it basically means “fear of missing out”. Sounds silly, am I right? Well, not really, and it happens to everybody actually. How so? Well, say you really want to attend a special event but don’t have the time, don’t live anywhere close, and don’t have the money. By simply clicking on the hash tag or seeing someone’s status you’ll see plenty of pictures and video of them at said event having the time of their lives. Because you clicked and are seeing these pics and videos with your own eyes you can’t help but feel jealous, can you? If this has happened to you before then congrats you’ve had FOMO before. Not the best feeling right? We can’t help but compare yourselves to others, and sometimes feel we’re at competition with them. Someone has so many followers on Instagram, what are you doing wrong that you have so much less than they do? They have a 3D TV, why don’t you have a 3D TV? They have a Playstation 4, why don’t you have a Playstation 4?

2) Unhappiness. Sure, you can get happy with social media, but you can also get unhappy from it too. It’s just as easy to get upset online as it is to get happy with it, for a variety of different reasons – Reading unappealing news, anxiety over shared content or relationships, and depression from being attached to the internet for too long and losing sight of everything else happening to you in the physical world. It’s especially bad with adolescents, according to Dr. Van Zwanberg of Priory’s Woodbourne Hospital in Birmingham young children are “way too trusting of modern technologies and do not understand the negative influences the internet can have.” Youngsters might brush them off, but it’s possible they might be influenced if they see someone else acting a certain way, discover a new and exciting social media without looking to see how legit it is (i.e. trustworthy) and might even be tempted to buy things without seeking permission from parents of guardians first.

3) Multitasking. Being online you can easily stimulate yourself quickly and efficiently with just a few simple steps – Create new tab, type in destination, explore destination, etc. It’s a process as old as time( Well not really, but you get the idea, right?). And, it’s pretty easy to it again, and again, and again…With all previous tabs open and operational. Sure, multitasking has some benefits – It can help if you’ve got a job and you prove to have a good grasp on everything no matter how much is thrown at you but it can also make it harder to focus on just one little thing. It’s pretty easy for the mind to get manipulated into this way of thinking, and surprisingly harder to get out of it. Some people have taken the approach of yoga, meditation, and other mental exercises to get in the right mindset, but like it is with trying to lose weight you can take so long to lose that calories of fat, but easily gain them with a cheat meal a few days later. Such is comparable to the online experience.

4) Cyber bullying.  No, this is definitely no laughing matter. Because a lot of people feel safer online there is a sense of power and control that feeds their ego and can make it tempting to antagonize a person, intentionally or not, in, say an online chat room, message board, or through Youtube and Facebook. In my years having access to the computer I’ve dealt with plenty of cyber bullies and a lot of them don’t take into consideration some of the stuff they say because they feel that because its online it doesn’t and cannot affect them in the real world. This mentality might make a decent counter argument back in the early 00’s, but not anymore. With today’s modern age of technology it is not hard to find yourself getting into serious trouble, most social medias have a report feature that send the data straight to the administrators who will take immediate action.

5) Addiction. No surprise, right? The internet plays a huge part in our lives and when we’ve signed onto some new social media we can’t help but visit it a few times during the day, week, and month. This can be a problem if one doesn’t have enough self control, addiction can really make it hard to focus on the other, far more important aspects in your life, especially work and with family, and it can also affect your health. Because of the new digital age many people have transformed into night owls and often find themselves staying up till the birds start chirping in the morning and not waking up till 10:30am.

Then, there’s the middle ground.

1) Social media can make your restless. This has it pros and cons. I suppose it does feel good to be wide awake through most of the day especially if a lot of exciting things are happening, but if its later in the night this can make it a bit harder to fall straight asleep. Scientists agree that by hitting the hay immediately after being your phone, tablet, or computer the amount of stimulation you have will make falling to asleep a bit longer than expected( And the bright light on the screen is no real help, either). Depends on when you use it.

Everyone is capable of feeling all the above, it’s really a matter of how you use the computer, if you feel the effects of being on social media have led to more negatives than positives then re-approaching the matter may help.

Resources –

http://blog.degreed.com/10-ways-social-media-affects-our-mental-health/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/11943810/Excessive-social-media-use-harms-childrens-mental-health.html

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2 thoughts on “How social media affects mental health

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this blog. For these reasons, I worry for my kids and their use of social media. As mentioned, self-control is critical. Learning to know when to shut off and on can eliminate the not-so-good feelings that comes with social media.

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