Social Media And Mental Health Issues

With the introduction to global internet, the world now is more connected than it has ever been. Children born into this world are known as "digital natives", whilst everyone before the internet are known as "digital immigrants". This is because digital immigrants knew a world before the internet, whilst children now do not, the internet is their norm. 

Whilst there are a lot of benefits to social media, like keeping in touch with friends near and far, starting online businesses, buying and selling goods, booking holidays, or making friends, it can also have a detrimental effect on our mental health.

Statistics indicates that the average person spends 90 minutes a day on their phone and checks it 85 times a day.

Using social media in excess can make you feel increasingly unhappy and isolated in the long run because of the the continuous flow of perfectly filtered and edited photos appearing on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. 

Here are some ways in which social media can affect your mental health without you even realising.

Self-esteem

Everyone has their own insecurities but when we think about social media, people tend to compare themselves to others by continually checking other people's pages, which can illustrate to them what a ‘perfect’ life they have, how ‘beautiful’ they are, what a great relationship they have and what perfect children they have. This can create envy in others who report to feel dissatisfied with aspects of their life.

In doing this we are comparing are life to others placing our happiness in a variable which we can not control. This in turn will create an amount of time focusing on what others have that we do not, installing self-doubt and criticism and therefore having a negative affect on our mental well being.

Human connection

It is important as humans for us to be able to communicate and form personal relationships with one another. However, this can be difficult when we are glued to screens and forming friends online, rather than socially interacting. The opportunities to form relationships online appear to be ‘easier’ than getting out, meeting and greeting people face to face which results in a reduced ability to make, form and keep relationships in real life.

Cyber bullying

Social media has a way of bullying that you cannot escape. The bullies and "trolls" are there 24/7 with no door to close. Bullied people will have a lower self-esteem and self-belief, which will affect their mental well being and can actually lead to depression and suicidal behaviours. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to this type of bullying given the amount of time they spend on the internet.

Sleep

Having enough sleep is paramount for growth and well being. Getting worked up, anxious, envious, angry or sad about what you see or read on social media will prevent you from relaxing and being able to fall asleep. It is also important to note the light from a screen - whether it is a mobile or tablet device - which can suppress the release of melatonin (sleep hormone). Giving yourself a strict routine to use a device before bedtime will dramatically improve your quality of sleep.

Attention span

It is not just the subconscious brain we need to worry about, but also the extent to which the brain is able to fully concentrate when we are awake. Whilst it is incredible to consistently have any information available at your fingertips, it means that people have become far more easily distracted. It is a constant temptation and easy access entertainment, again decreasing social interactions.

Anxiety & depression

Many surveys have been carried out that suggest social media makes a platform for feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression. Are people liking my posts? Do people follow me? Do people like me? Do I have enough friends? This can be applied to all age groups. When these self-doubt thoughts begin, they can spiral and lead to avoidance and isolation. This is therefore creating unhelpful thinking patterns based on evidence which is not factual.