Social Media – Land of the Anxious

There will be 3 billion social media users by 2021

Whether from the news, the internet, or a worried parent, claims that social media have negative effects on the mental health of children and adults are unavoidable. As of 2021 there will be 3 billion social media users worldwide [1] making it more widespread than ever. If this is the case, shouldn’t we all be very worried?

Social media differs from traditional media because it’s in the people’s hands rather than the passive passenger seat of general media. It is a melting pot of ideas, speech, and actions that can only exist due to the unrestrained and open nature of it.

Influential Nature and Popularity of Social Media

Social media is so influential because it is an easier way to communicate. it strips down interaction to the words themselves and removes any risk, while maintaining reward. It is also a way to keep occupied and in the know about things going on in the world at lightning fast speed.

This is the main reason why it becomes so immersive for young people.

As is seen time and time again (presented as a joke) people share their whole lives online. Whether it’s what they are eating, where they are, who they are with, they pour their life experiences onto the web and read other people’s. They become involved in so many different lives and live with so many different people’s problems.

One of The Main Problems

Since 16-24-year olds spend 3 hours a day on social media on average [2] it takes up more than a large part of the waking day. Even if it’s just scrolling through your twitter feed, or liking pictures of food on Instagram, it’s something entertaining mainly.

Popular psychologist Linda Papadopoulos notes that ‘young people who use social media more than two hours per day were significantly more likely to rate their mental health as “fair” or “poor” compared with occasional users’ in a recent study [3].

In that case, our young minds are at risk. Papadopoulos continues to name the study’s characteristics, specifically that it impacts: sleep, self-esteem, and provides young people with life-comparing tools.

Children, Vulnerability, and Solutions

It seems then that the vulnerable are at risk. This includes all children, and some adults.

I have long since abandoned social media, but in high school it was all-encompassing. Different Facebook cliques and YouTube channels helped determine your friends offline. It could get depressing when people all watched someone in common and you didn’t. This harmed the self-esteem of many people.

My story

I ditched social media for this very reason. It was keeping me up at night due to a compulsion to scroll. It was showing me the lives of the rich and famous which made my life look comparatively inadequate, and this hurt my self-esteem.

I know realise that my life is great without social media, and I’d never trade what I have now for fame or money. Yet social media normalises such lifestyles and makes people gawk. Maybe giving people a high bar to strive towards is good but social media seems to be doing the opposite.

Links and Useful Resources:
1. https://www.childline.org.uk/
2. https://youngminds.org.uk/
3. https://www.barnardos.org.uk/
4. https://www.thecalmzone.net/
5. https://papyrus-uk.org/
6. https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services/
7. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/treatment-options/#.XSy_fpNKh-0

All minds are important. Furnishing your mind with ways to cope and calm is an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle.

References

[1] – Clement, J. (2018, November 29). Number of social media users worldwide 2010-2021. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/

[2] – Salim, S., (2019). Digital Information World. Retrieved from https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2019/01/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic.html

[3] – Papadopoulos, L., (2017). How does social media impact the mental health of young people? Internet Matters. Retrieved from https://www.internetmatters.org/hub/expert-opinion/social-media-impact-mental-health-young-people/

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