Social Media Effect On Mental Health

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Mental Health Conditions Tied To Young Peoples Use Of Social Media

Social media and its effects on youth development and mental health

Most people young and old are able to moderate their use of social media so it doesnt take over their lives. However, 20% of people who have at least one social media account feel they have to check them at least once every three hours to avoid feeling anxious. This phenomenon goes beyond fear of missing out, or FOMO. In fact, it now has its own name: social media anxiety disorder, as reported by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America .

The condition is similar to social and other anxiety disorders, which the ADAA states are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. The symptoms of social media anxiety disorder include the following:

  • Stopping to check social media in the middle of a conversation
  • Spending more than six hours each day using social media
  • Lying about the amount of time spent on social media
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Failing in attempts to cut back on social media use
  • Neglecting or losing interest in school, work and favorite activities
  • Experiencing severe nervousness, anxiety or withdrawal symptoms when not able to check social media
  • Having an overwhelming desire to share on social media feeds

Be Aware Of How Using Social Media Makes You Feel

Young people naturally compare themselves with the people they interact with on social media, but doing so can be detrimental to a healthy self-image. In the journal Body Image, researchers report that undergraduate women felt worse about their own appearance after they viewed the social media page of someone they considered more attractive. The results were consistent whether the women had a positive impression of their appearance or a negative one prior to viewing the page.

This social comparison factor takes many forms online that can negatively affect young users of social media. To compensate for the natural tendency to compare themselves with the people they interact with online, young people need to remind themselves that social media makes people and things look better and more attractive than they are in real life.

Links With Mental Health

A study by Primak et al found a link between use of multiple social media platforms and increased depression and anxiety symptoms in young people aged 19-32, although it did not establish a causal link. A more recent systematic review of studies undertaken to date also revealed associations between screen-based activities and mental health problems in children and young people, but again concluded more research was needed into cause and effect .

Box 1. Problematic use of social media

The number of hours worldwide internet users spend on social media is increasing and in 2018 averaged 136 minutes a day . Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol , but the nature of addiction is complex and the idea of it being more addictive may relate to the fact that it is available without restriction and is accessible and socially acceptable.

Successful social interactions, and the neurotransmitters released during such interactions, can be one of the most fulfilling stimuli for humans . Social media allows us to carry on our person billions of potential social connections , and social media companies have harnessed this to their advantage. Former Facebook president, Sean Parker, described the platform as a social validation feedback loop, and admitted the like button had been deliberately introduced to give a little dopamine hit and encourage continued use .

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What Can Parents Do

Because children are not good at self-regulation and are susceptible to peer pressure, social media sites can be risky places to hang out. The Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits websites from collecting information on children younger than 13 without parental permission. However, age is based on self-report, so children younger than 13 can simply lie about their age and open accounts. The New York Board of Education has a resource guide to help children over the age of 13 use the internet safely and in a healthy manner.

Many parents do not know the popular social media sites and how they work. With many parents busy schedules, this leaves many kids unsupervised on the internet, which can lead to problems. Parental supervision is as valuable online as it is offline when it comes to instilling values and safeguards. There are a number of resources meant to help teach parents about social media sites and how they work. Connect Safely has developed parent guides for understanding different social media platforms. Also, Common Sense Media has a list of red flags to be on the lookout for when your children are using various social media platforms.

One thing you can do is check in with your children and let them know that it is safe to come to you if they are experiencing cyberbullying. Safe Teens has developed a website with information about cyberbullying. You can read and discuss this webpage with your children.

Tiktok Anxiety And Depression

Aware

There is a growing concern among mental health professionals about the impact of social media on our mental health, particularly when it comes to platforms like TikTok. TikTok anxiety and depression are becoming more common, as users compare their lives to the seemingly perfect lives of those they see on the app. The constant stream of content can be overwhelming, and the pressure to be perfect can be crippling. If you find yourself feeling down after scrolling through TikTok, its important to reach out to a mental health professional for help.

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Increasing Access To Resources

Whether youre searching for support groups, informative articles, or valuable tools and tips, social media can provide access to multiple resources though, of course, youll always want to consider the source for potential inaccuracy or bias.

Social media can also break down some of the barriers people face when trying to access resources.

Sitting behind a screen largely eliminates social risk, says Frank.

If you find it challenging to get out and about for whatever reason, social media could make it easier to do things like:

  • join a support group
  • get information about events in your area
  • learn more about free or low cost resources, events, and opportunities for recreation

Modify Your Smartphone Use Step

For most people, getting control over their smartphone and Internet use isnt a case of quitting cold turkey. Think of it more like going on a diet. Just as you still need to eat, you probably still need to use your phone for work, school, or to stay in touch with friends. Your goal should be to cut back to more healthy levels of use.

  • Set goals for when you can use your smartphone. For example, you might schedule use for certain times of day, or you could reward yourself with a certain amount of time on your phone once youve completed a homework assignment or finished a chore, for instance.
  • Turn off your phone at certain times of the day, such as when youre driving, in a meeting, at the gym, having dinner, or playing with your kids. Dont take your phone with you to the bathroom.
  • Dont bring your phone or tablet to bed. The blue light emitted by the screens can disrupt your sleep if used within two hours of bedtime. Turn devices off and leave them in another room overnight to charge. Instead of reading eBooks on your phone or tablet at night, pick up a book. Youll not only sleep better but research shows youll also remember more of what youve read.
  • Replace your smartphone use with healthier activities. If you are bored and lonely, resisting the urge to use your smartphone can be very difficult. Have a plan for other ways to fill the time, such as meditating, reading a book, or chatting with friends in person.
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    Criticism Debate And Controversy

    Twitter is increasingly a target of heavy activity of marketers. Their actions focused on gaining massive numbers of followers, include use of advanced scripts and manipulation techniques that distort the prime idea of social media by abusing human trustfulness. British-American entrepreneur and author Andrew Keen criticized social media in his 2007 book The Cult of the Amateur, writing, “Out of this anarchy, it suddenly became clear that what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the Internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering.”This is also relative to the issue “justice” in the social network. For example, the phenomenon “Human flesh search engine” in Asia raised the discussion of “private-law” brought by social network platform. Comparative media professor José van Dijck contends in her book The Culture of Connectivity that to understand the full weight of social media, their technological dimensions should be connected to the social and the cultural. She critically describes six social media platforms. One of her findings is the way Facebook had been successful in framing the term ‘sharing’ in such a way that third party use of user data is neglected in favor of intra-user connectedness. The fragmentation of modern society, in part due to social media, has been likened to a modern Tower of Babel.

    Bullying Is Often A Learned Behavior

    Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

    Some bullies learn aggressive behavior from their experiences at home. As a parent, you may be setting a bad example for your kids by spanking or otherwise striking them, verbally or physically abusing your spouse, or by displaying bullying behavior such as:

    • Abusing your child’s sports coach, umpires and referees, or members of the opposing team.
    • Swearing at other drivers on the road.
    • Humiliating a waitress, shop assistant, or cab driver who makes a mistake.
    • Talking negatively about other students, parents, or teachers so that your child thinks it’s acceptable to use verbal abuse to intimidate others.
    • Sending or forwarding abusive online messages that target coworkers or acquaintances.

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    Promote Engagement And Retention In Services

    Many individuals living with mental disorders have expressed interest in using social media platforms for seeking mental health information , connecting with mental health providers , and accessing evidence-based mental health services delivered over social media specifically for coping with mental health symptoms or for promoting overall health and wellbeing . With the widespread use of social media among individuals living with mental illness combined with the potential to facilitate social interaction and connect with supportive peers, as summarized above, it may be possible to leverage the popular features of social media to enhance existing mental health programs and services. A recent review by Biagianti et al found that peer-to-peer support appeared to offer feasible and acceptable ways to augment digital mental health interventions for individuals with psychotic disorders by specifically improving engagement, compliance, and adherence to the interventions, and may also improve perceived social support .

    Be Mindful Of How You Spend Your Time On Social

    So remember, when you catch yourself mindlessly scrollingthrough your Facebook or Instagram feed, stop what youre doing, put your phonedown, and break the cycle. Go and make a cup of tea, step outside, take abreath of fresh air, and maybe call a friend.

    Or speak to a medical professional about your dependency and how you can build up your tolerance. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to your local psychologist or any one of our team of doctors for a referral.

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    Know The Signs Of Harmful Social Media Use By Students

    A common misconception is that use of social media by young people always improves their ability to socialize in the real world. In fact, many teachers report that the opposite is true: Social media use has led to a breakdown in the ability of many students to communicate with each other in the classroom. The National Education Association quotes an 11th grade English teacher from North Carolina who states that social media has crippled her students ability to interact with one another in person.

    Because so little is known about social medias impact on youth, teachers have to consider the role of this and other technologies on the growing prevalence of anxiety, loneliness and depression among teenagers and adolescents. The best teachers can do is to listen to students and remind them that there are many good things in life that have nothing at all to do with social media.

    How To Stop Cutting And Self

    How Is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health?

    If you’re ready to get help for cutting or self-harm, the first step is to confide in another person. It can be scary to talk about the very thing you have worked so hard to hide, but it can also be a huge relief to finally let go of your secret and share what you’re going through.

    When talking about cutting or self-harming:

    Focus on your feelings. Instead of sharing detailed accounts of your self-harm behavior focus on the feelings or situations that lead to it. This can help the person you’re confiding in better understand where you’re coming from. It also helps to let the person know why you’re telling them. Do you want help or advice from them? Do you simply want another person to know so you can let go of the secret?

    Communicate in whatever way you feel most comfortable. If you’re too nervous to talk in person, consider starting off the conversation with an email, text, or letter . Don’t feel pressured into sharing things you’re not ready to talk about. You don’t have to show the person your injuries or answer any questions you don’t feel comfortable answering.

    Talking about self-harm can be very stressful and bring up a lot of emotions. Don’t be discouraged if the situation feels worse for a short time right after sharing your secret. It’s uncomfortable to confront and change long-standing habits. But once you get past these initial challenges, you’ll start to feel better.

    Not sure where to turn?

    In the middle of a crisis?

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    You Use Social Media To Avoid Negative Emotions

    Social media also could be an issue if you tend to use it to fight boredom or to deal with loneliness. Although these feelings are uncomfortable and it’s only natural to want to alleviate them, turning to social media for comfort or as a distraction is not a healthy way to cope with difficult feelings and emotions.

    As a result, it may be time for you to reassess your social media habits. Here are some additional signs that social media may be having a negative impact on your life and your mental health:

    • Your symptoms of anxiety, depression, and loneliness are increasing.
    • You are spending more time on social media than with your real-world friends and family members.
    • You tend to compare yourself unfavorably with others on social media or you find that are your frequently jealous of others.
    • You are being trolled or cyberbullied by others online.
    • You are engaging in risky behaviors or taking outrageous photos in order to gain likes.
    • Your work obligations, family life, or school work is suffering because of the time you spend on social media.
    • You have little time for self-care activities like mindfulness, self-reflection, exercise, and sleep.

    How To Stop Bullying

    When it comes to trying to stop bullying behavior in kids and teens, there are steps that parents and teachers can take.

    Talk to kids about bullying. Just talking about the problem can be a huge stress reliever for someone whos being bullied. Be supportive and listen to a childs feelings without judgment, criticism, or blame.

    Remove the bait. If your child is targeted by a bully for his or her lunch money, phone, or iPod, for example, suggest your child packs a lunch for school and leaves the gadgets at home.

    Find help for a child whos afraid of a bully. Make sure other teachers, coaches, and counselors know the child is being bullied. No child should have to handle bullying alone.

    Help the bullied child avoid isolation. Kids with friends are better equipped to handle bullying. Find ways to increase their social circle, via youth or religious groups or clubs, for example.

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    Facebook Access Leads To More Anxiety And Depression

    When Facebook began, access was restricted to people with a Harvard email address. Less than a month later, the website had expanded to Columbia, Stanford, and Yale. This progressive opening continued until September of 2006, when anybody over 13 years old was able to create an account.

    College-wide Facebook access led to a 7% increase in severe depression among students, researchers found.

    We were able to use the fact that Facebook rolled out at different universities at different times, together with the fact that we have this huge survey already conducted at universities, to understand the causal impact of Facebook on student mental health, Makarin said.

    Most broadly, the researchers found a sizable increase in the number of students who reported mental distress at some time in the preceding year. College-wide access to Facebook led to an increase in severe depression by 7% and anxiety disorder by 20%. Beyond these results, a greater percentage of the most susceptible students also treated symptoms with either psychotherapy or antidepressants. In total, the negative effect of Facebook on mental health appeared to be roughly 20% the magnitude of what is experienced by those who lose their job.

    Signs That Social Media Is Impacting Your Mental Health

    How social media filters impact mental health

    Everyone is different and there is no specific amount of time spent on social media, or the frequency you check for updates, or the number of posts you make that indicates your use is becoming unhealthy. Rather, it has to do with the impact time spent on social media has on your mood and other aspects of your life, along with your motivations for using it.

    For example, your social media use may be problematic if it causes you to neglect face-to-face relationships, distracts you from work or school, or leaves you feeling envious, angry, or depressed. Similarly, if youre motivated to use social media just because youre bored or lonely, or want to post something to make others jealous or upset, it may be time to reassess your social media habits.

    Indicators that social media may be adversely affecting your mental health include:

    Spending more time on social media than with real world friends. Using social media has become a substitute for a lot of your offline social interaction. Even if youre out with friends, you still feel the need to constantly check social media, often driven by feelings that others may be having more fun than you.

    Comparing yourself unfavorably with others on social media. You have low self-esteem or negative body image. You may even have patterns of disordered eating.

    Experiencing cyberbullying. Or you worry that you have no control over the things people post about you.

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