Social Media and Mental Health

The use of social media has increased manifold in the last few years. Its popularity isn’t limited to few developed countries where availability of mobile phones and internet connectivity is comparatively better than most countries. If we look at the worldwide figures of social media users, we can easily see that there isn’t a single country that is unaffected by the popularity of social media. According to PEW Research Center, in the US as many as 72% of its population are connected to one or the other social media channel.

People use social media connect app, instagram app,  and other apps  for staying in touch with family members, friends, getting news updates, entertainment, and many other things. There is virtually not even a single area that social media doesn’t cover. It has a monumental effect on our day-to-day life. It has grown so fast in the last couple of years that not many studies have been documented about its effect on people’s life. However, it has been observed that too much exposure to social media has its downside too, and that is often manifested in the form of anxiety, loneliness and depression among people. 

It causes Depression 

It is very surprising that a medium such as social media that was primarily conceptualized to connect people is keeping them apart. People have become so used to their favourite social channels that they can’t think of being away from it for even a moment. Most of their interactions are taking place online on the social media, and sometimes they turn ugly leaving the users mentally scarred. Such incidents together with the access use of these channels are creating anxiety, loneliness, and depression among large number of people. According to a survey, those who on an average use social media for more than 2 hours will likely have a poor mental health in comparison to those who use it rarely. Besides, the occasional users are also three times less likely to fall victim to anxiety and depression than heavy users of social media. 

Pressure to look perfect

The world of social media is artificial. The emphasis is more on showing one’s perfect side. Men often post pictures of their perfectly toned six pack bodies while women use lots of filters and editing options to create a diva like photograph. Those who get to see these photographs know that these are not real, but still can’t help themselves from feeling inadequate about their life and looks. They think they don’t possess such super sexy figures and hence are not good enough. This creates a sense of anxiety, and as a result they begin losing confidence in their own abilities, and stop interacting with others. Teenagers are especially prone to this mindset.

FOMO

It’s a social media phenomenon called Fear of Missing Out. Adolescents are more likely to suffer from FOMO. Since the life of teenagers revolves around social media, they are always under pressure to know what is happening in their friends’ lives. And to do that they are perennially online. Their preoccupation with the social media affects their life badly and they are unable to cope up with the reality. They detach from others and go in a virtual cell with mobile phone for a company, checking every notification and replying to all random social media posts.

It makes them self-centered 

With so much of pressure to look good, users often post innumerable selfies to get likes and comments. They become desperate for online validation from others instead of creating happy memories with their family and friends. If one of their pictures gets relatively more likes, they go on posting more pictures in order to relive that moment. And if they fail to get the endorsement they are looking for, they resort to self-hatred. Now, both the situations are damaging for their mental wellbeing.

Unnecessary dependence

Too much addiction to social media makes people inseparable from their mobile phones. They are forever checking feeds and updates on multiple channels. This leaves less time for doing other important things. Gradually, they develop a tendency to avoid their routine work, and try to find refuge in the virtual world of social media.

Unhealthy substitute 

The real life has its own demands and challenges. To have a good work life balance, one cannot afford to ignore either of them. Unfortunately, those who become addicted to social media usually try to get away from the problems of real life and find solace in the make belief world of social media. Such behavior’s never help as instead of making them feel better, it leaves them dejected and disillusioned.

It goes without saying that social media can be a gift if used in moderation but if you develop an addiction, then you are putting your mental health at risk.

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