Social Media Use and Mental Health Issues
In recent times, social media has become the way of our lives, even among adolescents. During COVID-19 pandemic period, the usage of Internet and social networking sites namely Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube has increased rapidly. During nationwide “lockdown”, the Internet usage allowed communication with peers and the continuity activities such as school teaching. An increased level of engagement with the internet was required for educational and other purposes due to the pandemic, which potentially predisposed college students to a range of experiences that may be either positive or negative. Ironically for a technology that is designed to bring people closer together, spending too much time engaging with social media can actually make you feel more lonely and isolated and exacerbate mental health problems such as and .
However, we have to keep in mind that excessive media usage may be related to some adverse consequences especially in the most vulnerable people, such as the adolescents. Most identified problems associated with social media use are sleep disorder, depression, psychological problems, addiction, anxiety, behavioral problems, reduced physical activity, sight problem, and headache. According to the World Health Organization, 264 million individuals worldwide suffer from depression-a condition characterized by feelings of low self-worth, impaired concentration, and disturbed sleep, among various other maladaptive symptoms. Adolescents between 15 and 18 years of age are more vulnerable, with a 52% increase in the prevalence of depression among adolescents from 2009 to 2017. Depression leads to many serious problems including failure to complete education, higher unplanned parenthood rates, poorer interpersonal relations, and heightened risk of substance abuse and suicidality.
The negative aspects of social media use
However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts. Social media may promote negative experiences such as:
: Even if you know that images you’re viewing on social media are manipulated, they can still make you feel insecure about how you look or what’s going on in your own life.
: While FOMO has been around far longer than social media, sites such as Facebook and Instagram seem to exacerbate feelings that others are having more fun or living better lives than you are. The idea that you’re missing out on certain things can impact your self-esteem, trigger anxiety, and fuel even greater social media use, much like an addiction.
: Human beings need face-to-face contact to be mentally healthy. The more you prioritize social media interaction over in-person relationships, the more you’re at risk for developing or exacerbating mood disorders such as anxiety and .
Social media platforms such as Twitter can be hotspots for spreading hurtful rumors, lies, and abuse that can leave lasting emotional scars.
The health emergency has a strong impact on the mental and psychological health of adolescents causing change in their routine and daily activities. Public and medical awareness must rise over this topic and new prevention measures must be found, starting with health practitioners and websites developers. Pediatricians and parents should be aware of the risks associated to a problematic social media use for the young’s health and try to prevent negative outcomes in accordance with the family.