Social media is the favorite past-time of youth nowadays. But excessive use of social media has consequences. And although, young people are quick to defend their digital lives saying it makes them feel connected and supported when times get rough. One out of five teens reported feeling worse about their own lives due to what they saw or read on the social media.
Various studies have linked overload of social media use with anxiety, eating disorders, sleep problems, depression, and suicide risk. One has to be careful while using social media. A well-managed and balanced use of social media is necessary as it can lead to some disastrous impacts on your mental health:
Social media makes it easy to compare your life to others. Excessive use of social media and seeing others having ‘seemingly’ perfect lives leads to feelings of low self-worth. It is natural to sometimes feel competitive and judge ourselves and our lives with others. But people portray their lives better than they are in reality. Do not believe everything that you see on the social media. People do not post about the raw reality of their lives and you shouldn’t compare yourself to a very polished version of a moment in somebody’s life.
Comparisons to unrealistic portrayals make a person feel down. Social media profiles usually show images of a person looking attractive after ten types of filters or is seen enjoying themselves even if it is far from reality. Young people, such as teens and tweens develop an impression that other people are leading better lives and have the best of things. Then there are the likes. A study revealed that one-fifth respondents said to have deleted the post if it didn’t get enough likes.
According to some studies, cyberbullying has been connected to anxiety, depression, suicide, and social isolation. Cyberbullying is as horrible as the traditional forms of bullying. Cyberbullying has a larger audience and the bully can remain hidden and anonymous. The victim finds it extremely hard to escape. There are derogatory comments, pictures, and memes that can take bullying to a whole new level.
Way to Escape:
When work or study gets a bit too much, people turn to social media for a break just to catch a little break. They are looking for ways to relax or any entertainment to get relaxed. But a lot of people, in reality, feel isolated and sad about their lives after using social media and looking at other people’s lives.
Suicide, Self-Harm, Hate Speech, and Abusive Content:
There is tons of information available on the internet. It also includes information that has disturbing impacts on young minds such as suicide methods, ways to self-harm, hate speech and abusive content. People are now becoming aware of the potential negative consequences of social media on teens. A person who might be feeling depressed with low self-esteem already could be at risk because of the availability of such information on social media or other platforms.
A False Sense of Being Social:
Social media appears to connect you with other people who share the same interests as you but using media is solitary and is not social at all. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may stimulate new friendships and social interactions but people feel lonelier than ever. Active social media users are lonely in real life and become disconnected from the people close to them.
Maintaining an Image:
Social media platforms keep a check on the number of followers or connections you have. Quite often, that number is displayed on your profile as well. The number of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ you have become something of a status. It has become a benchmark of judging how social a person is.
But having friends on social media is not the same as having friends in real life. Those with hundreds or even thousands of connections on social media, actually lead a lonely and anti-social life. The life they portray on social media is far different from reality.
Is it all bad?
Be it any platform, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using them excessively increases loneliness. Loneliness leads to depression. A research by UK Disability Charity Scope studied 1500 Facebook and Twitters users. 60% of the participants reported being jealous of their peers and 62% felt isolated.
There are some positive aspects of social media as well like staying in touch with old friends and family who live in other cities and countries.
There are some positive aspects of social media too like staying in touch with old friends and family living in other cities and countries. The way news spreads on social media can be quite an advantage for businesses. Social media offers a number of substantial benefits. It creates a sense of community, is great for charity activities and campaigns. People can seek help and share resources and information. Due to the cost-effectiveness, reach and accessibility people who do not have access can get information and support. The ever-changing and ever-growing nature of social media and its reach has made it a bit difficult to assess its benefits and risks.
All teens respond to social media the same way. All teenagers do not even use the same sites and tools. Facebook is the most popular social media platform but at the same time, many new platforms are popping up and teens are adopting them.
As parents, the best thing to do is stay informed. Observe your children and stay connected to them. When you are close to your children, and they communicate with you, you can solve any issues they might be facing, on time.