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Social Media: A Blessing Or A Curse?

Updated: Jun 21, 2023


 
Chidinma Nwonye, Content Writer at Grace Writes

Written by: Chidinma Nwonye (Content Writer)


Grace Pountney, Editor-in-Chief at Grace Writes

Edited by: Grace Pountney (Editor-in-Chief)

 
Step into science with Science Snapshot, a Bio Brigade blog. Find out about interesting science, health, and diseases. We spotlight individual stories, increase awareness of rare diseases, and answer your Science Suspicions!
 


Social Media Helps Us Connect


Humans have an in-built desire to connect

In our digitally-revolutionised world, many people seek connections through social media.


Traditionally, social media apps like Facebook were designed for individuals to share photos and experiences with family and friends, whereas nowadays the possibilities are endless with many even finding love through dating apps and direct messages (colloquially referred to as 'DMs').


In a professional capacity individuals can use social media apps, such as LinkedIn, for networking, or the platforms can even be utilised to make money; so-called 'influencers' work with brands on sponsorship deals to advertise products to their followers.


Positive Effects of Social Media

  • Building new friendships with people with similar ambitions or interests

  • Being a part of worthwhile causes and creating awareness of important issues

  • Staying in touch with friends and family worldwide

  • Finding job and development opportunities

 

Social Media Can Be Detrimental


Unfortunately, as many of us know, social media isn't all sunshine and rainbows.

Social media can have a negative impact on users, especially young people, who are more impressionable. The most significant danger social media poses to the youth is its link to the development of mental health issues.


Mental health encompasses emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and affects how individual's think, feel, and act.

Having good mental health allows people to handle stress better, interact with others and build relationships, and make healthy decisions. It can also allow individuals to realise their abilities and talents, and contribute positively to society.


In the past, there was a particular emphasis on physical health, and mental health was often brushed under the carpet, but, fortunately, there has been a monumental increase in noise around mental health in the media.


Negative Effects of Social Media

  • FOMO - The 'Fear Of Missing Out' (FOMO) is a concept associated with the idea that you are losing out on particular life experiences or events. Social media can exacerbate this feeling, with a lot of content shared showcasing (perceived) 'highs' and successes, rather than 'lows', struggles, or failures.

  • Cyberbullying

  • Isolation

  • Increased anxiety

  • Development of depression

  • Self-absorption

A study produced by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that adolescents aged 12-15 who spend longer than three hours per day on social media may be more susceptible to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, with a heightened risk of internalising their issues.



An Express VPN survey revealed that >78% of 16 to 24 years reported that social media impacted areas of their mental health, including happiness (86%) and anxiety (83%).









A 2022 Pew Research Center survey revealed 46% of U.S. teens aged 13 to 17 have experienced at least one of six cyberbullying behaviours.







Indicators an individual's mental health is being detrimentally affected by social media

  • Spending much time on social media rather than with physical friends - you might find yourself hooked on social media for longer hours than you spend physically interacting with people.

  • High-level distraction especially in school or at work

  • Indulging in risky traits to attract followership or likes

  • Stopping often to check updates on social media amidst conversations

  • The urge to lie about the amount of time you spend on social media

  • Experiencing withdrawal syndrome or anxiety when you are unable to check social media.

 

How To Have A Healthy Relationship with Social Media

How to control and monitor social media use

  • Consciously track the amount of time spent on social media (many smartphones now tell you how long you spend on different apps)

  • Set time limits on social media apps (iPhone allows you do this with apps in settings but other apps can be downloaded to help with this)

  • Block your use of social media by using apps like 'Forest'

  • Be aware of how you feel when using social media

  • Recognise that many posts on social media are 'spotlights' and may not even represent how that individual is actually feeling

  • Put your phone in a different room so you can focus on the activity at hand e.g. eating dinner with family, watching a TV show, or reading

  • Take part in healthy activities where you physically cannot look at your phone or have it with you e.g. swimming, rock-climbing, or team sport like hockey

 

Science Suspicions

Science Snapshot Blog logo

Each week, at Science Snapshot, we answer your Science questions!




Since this week's issue focuses on mental health we thought it was important to share information on what to do if you or someone you know are struggling with mental health (instead of answering a solely scientific question).

What should I do if I'm struggling with my mental health?

  • Confide in someone you trust, such as a friend, responsible adult, or family member; share your thoughts and feelings.

  • Speak to a doctor; GP services and primary care facilitators are there to help with mental health just as much as physical health. They can provide guidance and refer you to a trained professional such as a therapist, if necessary.

  • Access support through your school or work. Many organisations now have individuals trained in mental health; often referred to as 'mental health first aiders', and educational institutions often have wellbeing teams and support systems in place.

  • Contact a mental health charity such as MIND, Samaritans, Mental Health Matters, or SANE.

Please visit this page if you or someone you know are in crisis and need urgent help.


 

"A problem shared is a problem halved"

 

 

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