Social media is a curated virtual platform that helps people connect and network with each other across the world. But what kind of influence and pressure do these platforms put on individuals? How does this influence an individual’s mental health?
It is seen that the constant use of social media platforms often leads individuals to experience feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, isolation, and loneliness. These emotions could worsen into states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Anxiety is the mental health concern most associated with social media. The major concerns associated with social media-related anxiety are the feeling of missing out on popular topics, and social interactions, and the negative comments associated with them. The desire for acceptance and validation from peer groups, along with the constant comparison, contributes to the development of anxiety-related concerns.
The heavy use of social media can also impact the cognitive functioning of the human brain. It shortens the attention span and makes the individual less receptive to distractions. It may also influence and shape a person’s behavior and personality based on interactions and usage on these platforms.
A research study published in September by the American Economic Review found a link between the Facebook app and anxiety and depression-related health concerns. The research was supported by survey data collected from college students across campuses in the U.S. The study was useful in demonstrating that the more time a person spends on an online platform, the more unhappy he tends to become.
Celebrities, models, and other personalities have also addressed the public in general to spread awareness about the negative effects of social media. The pop star Selena Gomez has launched an online platform to help and educate people about mental health. “I really, really want people to be understood, seen, and heard. It’s okay to not be okay,” she shared during one of her conversations. Kendal Jenner, during one of her interviews with Vogue for the series Open Minded, shared her experience with social media. “I find that the more I’m looking at the screen, the more detached I feel from my own body or from what’s happening right in front of me.” “My relationship with social media is a bit addictive right now, which I don’t like, and I’m not proud to say that, but I also feel like that’s something that probably most of us can relate to.”
Limiting your personal exposure to social media in a planned manner can be beneficial if it makes you feel more worried. Giving oneself a specific amount of time to spend on social media or allowing oneself a period of time at the end of the day to do so are two other examples that could be used to lessen the effects of social media.