How does social media impact our mental health?
Now, you may have read the title of this blog post and thought to yourself "I know, I know... social media is bad for girls because the photoshop and filters on Instagram make them feel bad about themselves". Well... yes. But what if I told you it wasn't that simple. The truth is social media isn't "bad" or "good". It's a tool. A tool for communication, sharing and creating. However, there are of course some down sides to social media which you already beat me at guessing. In this article, I will further discuss the impact that social media has on the youth, particularly young girls, and what it will mean for women of the future.
The rise of social media
It goes without saying that social media has come and conquered when it comes to the digital age and capturing our attention. Platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter have become the new way of life, even having famous politicians such as Donald Trump, ex president of the United States, using them to communicate to the masses.
Although social media offers many positives such as: allowing for individuals to connect and network with people from half way across the word, build relationships and (from a marketing standpoint) spread messages far as can go, there is definitely also a dark side to it. One large negative of social media is the power that it gives people to alter their appearance without acknowledgement, spread false messages and create unattainable expectations for naïve and absorbent young adults as...
But why does it have this impact...?
One thing about teenagers- they're going to compare. Whether it be their grades in class compared to their peers, what they got for Christmas compared to their siblings or what branded jacket they have compared to their friends... they'll compare it. With this knowledge taken into consideration, it's easier to see how when it comes to social media, it all becomes that much easier to compare their bodies to what they're seeing online.
Whilst peer comparison a very normal and human trait, when social media is brought into the mix the comparison can become amplified and arguably distorted as what is presented online is not always a realistic depiction or idea of what can be achieved in real life. For example, photoshopped pictures of people bodies that are posted online without ever stating this fact. This can be particularly harmful to young teenage girls as...
This may (or may not) come as a surprise but teenage girls are actually the biggest users of social media platforms, which they use to create a persona online and communicate with others. Regardless of whether specific comments are made about their bodies, through exposure to images pushing a certain 'beauty standard' and desirable appearance, they eventually form ideas on what an ideal body looks like, thus applying pressure to eat healthier, exercise more and fit the ideal aesthetic.
Studies show that girls who share more photos online and use photoshop to edit their pictures feel worse about their appearance and exhibit greater eating concerns, which can include restricting their intake, removing certain food groups, or overeating to cope with negative body image and low self esteem.
Alongside this, with the ever-increasing pace at which social media is evolving and the growing desire to create an idealistic version of yourself and your life online, young girls become more at risk to being exposed to these 'false realities' and falling into the trap of trying to become something which doesn't exist. This is shown particularly clearly through this study which...
So, what does this mean for our women of the future?
All in all, social media can be seen as both a useful tool and a dangerous weapon. Whilst filters and photoshop are not "bad" features, they should be used in a responsible and sensible way, which doesn't pull the wool over the younger generations' eyes and make them believe that the impossible is always within reach, just not theirs. Hopefully, as social media continues to evolve and we become more aware of what we are seeing online, we can both become more educated about certain things and more honest with ourselves, therefore creating a future where women do not look up to edited pictures of people and aspire to look like them.