Our generation and next
In this reading, we will analyse the effect of social media on mental health and some of the reasons why it does affect our mental state. Social media has its positives and negatives, but we all know the joy it brings to the world and its ability to connect people around the world. We will deep dive into some of the advantages and disadvantages of using social media and lay out different ideas on how to create a balance between the two.
Firstly, we usually use social media to get away from reality; "moreover, the number of social media users worldwide in 2019 was 3.484 billion, up 9% year-on-year," Kim HH. It's a tool used by people to escape reality. Though it's okay to be distracted for a certain amount of time, our generation has been the number one victim of social media addiction. Some of the most addictive social media apps are Twitter and Snapchat. Twitter is used more by females than males, but Snapchat is used more by males than females. "It was found that only 38% of Twitter users were male but 61% were using Snapchat," says by the Gender Distribution of Social Media Audiences Worldwide as of January 2020. Social media also creates a world of perfection to push users to follow and create some kind of pressure, which at times can be harmful. At times, our generation has been caught in a very toxic trend in which social media damages their mental state due to being unfulfilled within themselves. Multiple studies have shown the high neurological level of dopamine in teens while scrolling on social media applications. Another bad aspect of social media is time consumption; we usually find ourselves scrolling for hours without noticing, and this leads to isolation and physical health issues such as sleeping disorders. Some tools used to stay away from social media are checking screen time, which helps with tracking application usage over minutes, hours, days, months, and years for iPhone users. Focus settings such as Do Not Disturb, Personal, Work, Sleep, and Driving can also be set up through the main phone settings.
Secondly, because the constant updates and new trends create a sense of emptiness and anxiety, users do not want to feel left out or behind; they always want to be up to date with the latest trends in fashion, music, and materialistic items. "A number of studies have been conducted on the impacts of social media, and it has been indicated that the prolonged use of social media platforms such as Facebook may be related to negative signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress." Berryman C., Ferguson C., and Negy C. Again, this leads to self-harm and cyberbullying, which have a bad reputation in our generation. Social media applications such as Instagram have improved on abusive language, content, and actions when it comes to the topic of cyberbullying. Instagram has added some restrictions on harmful language and content uploaded by users. Isolating ourselves from family, friends, and lovers can lead to separation or breakups. "Thus, being socially connected with other people can relieve stress, anxiety, and sadness, but a lack of social connection can pose serious risks to mental health." Mohamad M, Juahir H, Ali NAM, Kamarudin MKA, Karim F, and Badarilah N; sleeping disorders, which are a big issue in our generation, lead to fatigue, weakened eyelids, and poor diet.
Finally, as we all know, social media is very useful in numerous ways when it comes to the topic of retrieving information, but with the mix of factual and false information, it is hard to know the difference, which can be very dangerous today. Getting the wrong information can lead to rational thought and anxiety. By reading or watching documentaries, different sources can help with getting the right information and more clarification. We want to create a barrier where social media doesn’t harm our mental health but instead helps us gain knowledge, connects us with the world, and provides a safe platform for those who don’t have a voice. Moderate consumption of our time will help, such as the reduction of scrolling, which will lead to an increase in awareness for our generation and the next.