BIG ‘NO’ TO EXCESS SOCIAL MEDIA

Big ‘NO’ To Excess Social Media, The speedy intensification of social media over the last decade has ascertained an exclusively new mode for human interaction. Online platforms for example Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have facilitated people in every corner of the world to be linked 24/7. By 2025, it is predicted that there will be approximately 3.5 billion active monthly users of social media. From the statistics alone, it’s comprehensible that social media has become a fundamental (and to a large extent, inescapable) ingredient of our lives.

One repercussion of social media’s rapid growth and its association with young people’s mental health has congregated a considerable amount of attention in latest years. Research has generated a wide evidence-base supporting a connection between social media use and mental health, and though still emerging, new evidence has painted an extensive picture of the major impacts.

Alleged ‘social media addiction’ has been referred to by a broad variety of studies and experiments. It is deliberated that addiction to social media affects approximately 5% of young people, and was lately illustrated as potentially more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes. Its ‘addictive’ nature obliges to the degree of compulsivity with which it is used. The ‘urge’ to check one’s social media might be linked to both immediate gratification (the need to feel fast, short-term pleasure) and dopamine production (the chemical in the brain linked with reward and pleasure).

What is dodgy about this compulsive use is that, if satisfaction is not experienced, users may internalize beliefs that this is because of being ‘unpopular’, ‘unfunny’ etc. A dearth of ‘likes’ on a status update might cause negative self-reflection, prompting incessant ‘refreshing’ of the page in the anticipation of seeing that another person has ‘enjoyed’ the post, therefore helping to accomplish personal validation. Though these insights may not essentially reflect one’s image in the eyes of others, the lack of gratification may intensify feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

Connected with this craving for immediate gratification is the negative result that these platforms can have on sleep and sleep quality.

Social media can furthermore worsen anxiety by increasing users’ knack to keep up to date with the activities of their social circles. The popular theory of Fear of Missing out (FOMO) refers to ‘a pervasive uneasiness that others may be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent’ and is ‘characterized by the longing to stay continually associated with what others are doing’. FOMO has been connected to intensive social media use and is linked with lower mood and life satisfaction.

From a different angle, online platforms might also have the potential to injure mental well-being through promoting unreasonable expectations. Social media has been connected to poor self-esteem and self-image by the initiation of image manipulation on photo-sharing platforms. Particularly, the concept of the ‘idealized body image’ has debatably been disadvantageous to self-esteem and image, chiefly that of young women.

The rise of social media has been a primarily comprehensive phenomenon, the statistics suggesting that it will come to play a progressively more dominant role in our lives. The evidence advocates that social media use is strongly linked with anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Whether it is causal or merely a correlation will need to be further scrutinized by researchers, mental health strategy stakeholders, and the social media industry.

In the meantime, we should think very cautiously about how we can administer its impact on mental health, for instance, via integrating social media ‘lessons’ into subjects in school, the usage of behavioral economics, and enlarged signposting efforts by social media firms.