Social Media Mental Health

The adolescent years are a time when connecting with peers becomes a focal point in your teen’s life and online social platforms offer ample opportunities for interaction. However, while social media allows teens to connect with each other, the platforms also open teens up to mental health issues. Even though there are a host of benefits to using online platforms, such as forming groups, staying in touch with far-away friends, and even providing social support, social media often affects teens in negative ways.

A recent study published in The American Academy of Pediatrics reported roughly 25 percent of teens think social media has a negative effect, but over 30 percent think the impacts are mostly positive. Studies have also shown over 20 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds report bouts of depression and anxiety. Depression in particular is seeing a sharp increase among teenage girls and some researchers believe this is at least partly due to using social media. To help you stay abreast of the dangers, here are five ways social media affects teens’ mental health:

1) Indirect Communication

Before the advent of social media, teens spent most of their free time hanging out with friends or talking on the phone. However, today’s wide range of electronic devices allows teens to be online at all times. Texting and making online posts have replaced talking and direct human interaction with more impersonal communication. This loss of in-person interaction often leads to teens not developing the social skills crucial to forming productive adult relationships.

2) Depression

A new phenomenon referred to as “Facebook depression” is characterized as depression resulting from spending too much time on social media platforms, and not just Facebook. Researchers found that teens who spend the most time on these platforms exhibited more of the classic symptoms of depression, and at a much higher rate, than those who spent less time engaging in online social activities. Researchers believe this is due to the increased quantity of online social interaction, giving teens the ability to interact with a larger number of peers.

3) Cyberbullying

One of the biggest dangers teens face online is being bullied. Cyberbullying is related to the phenomenon of “keyboard bravado,” where a person has the courage to say hurtful things while hiding behind their keyboard. Clinical and developmental psychologist Donna Wick reports this is especially true of teenage girls who most often won’t be as vicious to someone offline. Wick says social media is teaching teens to be more extreme in their disagreements, instead of learning how to work out conflicts in real life.

4) Addiction

While researchers have not been able to reach a consensus, a fair amount of evidence supports the theory of social media addiction. A study performed at Nottingham Trent University examined research on the effect of social media on psychological characteristics. Researchers concluded this type of addiction is a real possibility as many of the standard addiction criteria, like moodiness, neglect of personal life, and trying to conceal the addictive behavior, are present in many teens who spend excessive amounts of time on social media platforms. So teens should stop being so addicted to social media platforms.

5) Jealousy

Studies have found a durable link between envy and depression and seeing how well their peers seem to be doing only adds to the pressure teens feel as they compare their life to those of others. Studies show that seeing their friends and classmates going on exotic vacations and getting a new car often triggers feelings of envy. Researchers also found the number of envy-inducing incidents on Facebook alone can initiate a vicious cycle of making teens feel envious enough to create their own jealousy-inducing posts.

Conclusion

Adults often forget the struggles of their own teen years and as such, it can be difficult to understand what their teens are dealing with. Additionally, with all the pressures of life parents have to deal with, it can be challenging to know when your teen is having issues. The most important thing you can do is make sure your children understand they can always come to you with emotional issues. This is easier said than done as many parents don’t know how to approach these issues. For those parents, it is imperative to seek professional help for your teen as soon as any drastic behavioral changes are noticed. If requires, take a break or delete social media profiles for your mental health.

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Is Social Media Addictive?

We can virtually not picture a life without social media since it has become such an integral part of our daily lives. We may not actively check our usage and the consequences excessive use of social media may have on our life due to the popularity of social media. Around half of the world’s population utilizes social media as of February 2022. This equates to around 3.96 billion users worldwide, regardless of age or internet availability. 

On a worldwide basis, it is also estimated that a user spends roughly 2 hours 30 minutes every day on social media. While many people can limit their social media usage to a manageable time frame, an increasing number of people are reporting an excessive, even obsessive use of social media in ways that are harmful to their health. According to a recent poll by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, roughly 16 percent of Ontario students who use social media spend up to five hours or more online. 

Like all other types of behavioral addictions, so much of using social media can influence your brain in harmful ways and both physically and psychologically. Social Media Addiction is comparable to cocaine addiction.

What is the definition of social media addiction?

Netflix binge-watching? Is it doom and gloom to scroll through Twitter? Spending hours upon hours on Tik Tok? In a world driven by technology and smart gadgets, it’s not uncommon to lose minutes, if not hours, to the internet. Social media refers to the websites and applications that consume up the majority of our time. While it began as a simple method to remain in touch with friends and family, social media has evolved into an almost indispensable part of our culture. Due to the exponential surge in interaction over the previous few years, researchers have dubbed social networking sites a “global consumer phenomenon” (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011)

Social Media Addiction Facts

Here are some of the social media addiction statistics globally.

  • An average person spends nearly 2 hours a day on social media platforms which is up to 5 years and 4 months of one’s lifetime.
  • Nearly 210 million people worldwide are affected by the internet and social media addiction.
  • Especially Teens addicted to social media can spend up to 9 hours a day.
  • Teens who spend more than 5 hours a day on social platforms are twice more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 4 in 10 young adults have insufficient sleep caused by social media addiction.
  • Children start to use social platforms at the age of eight.
  • There are 3.8 billion active social media users.
  • As of 2020, 49% of the world’s population is on social media, and every month, 1 billion people use Instagram.
  • 74% of all Americans log in to check their Facebook account daily.
  • 1 of 3 divorces is caused by social media.

Also, Read – Snapchat Launched ‘Here For You’ Mental Health Program

Social Media Addiction Symptoms

Although social media addiction is difficult to measure, there are certain tell-tale indications – see how many of these signs of social media addiction you have.

How many of these apply to you? Don’t be frightened if you recognised yourself in any of these indications. In reality, many of us would reflect the behavior patterns and habits of someone addicted to social media, all of which are detrimental to our health and well-being.

People may have the following experiences:

  • A strong desire to utilise social media, as well as negative sensations while not doing so, such as significant rage or irritation.
  • Constantly thinking about what they’re missing out on, what others are doing, and how much attention their own stuff is getting.
  • When you are not using social media, you may have psychological issues such as anxiety, loneliness, concern, and excessive seeking.
  • A lack of balance – you tend to spend the majority of your time and thoughts on social media. You may be thinking about it even while you aren’t using it.
  • Distress and obsession cause individuals to go out of their way to obtain social media, either through negotiation or unsafe behavior.

Solutions for Social Media Addiction

Beating social media addiction is not an easy process and it can’t be done overnight; it requires a reevaluation of your digital-life balance. It’s not necessary to give up social media entirely, but it is important to have strategies for setting limits. 

There are some steps you can take to reduce your use of and dependency on social media. Here are the top 4 solutions to overcome social media addiction

1. Remove the convenience – Change a device function

Constantly beeping messages also activate our brain’s reward system, according to research (He, Turel, Brewers & Bechara, 2017). When we get alerts on our devices, it’s difficult to ignore them, which might lead us down another rabbit hole of social media checking. Similarly, the ease with which we can access social media via our cell phones is a large part of what makes it so enticing and addicting. 

According to the same experts that advocate turning off alerts, you should only browse social media platforms on your desktop or laptop because you are less likely to have it on you at all times (He, Turel, Brewers & Bechara, 2017)

2. You don’t have to entirely give it up – just prevent partial access

According to research, reducing social media use without fully eliminating it has several benefits. Researchers recruited 143 undergraduate volunteers and ordered one group to limit their social media use to 10 minutes each day for three weeks to investigate this association between social media and well-being (Hunt, Marx, Lipson & Young, 2018). 

The control group was free to utilize social media as they pleased. In comparison to the control group, participants in the limited social media group had significant reductions in loneliness and sadness. Similarly, the restricted group showed a substantial decrease in anxiety and fear of missing out, which the researchers ascribed to enhanced self-monitoring. 

3. Encourage positive habits – Set aside a certain amount of time each day to utilize social media

Children are getting more and more reliant on social media. Children might mistakenly overstimulate their reward centers, causing them to become less sensitive to rewards. Encourage healthy conduct, whether you’re a parent or not, to train your brain away from maladaptive behaviors and coping methods like social media. Setting guidelines like “no phones at the dinner table” are simple methods to distinguish between true connectedness and online time. 

4. Be honest about it – Talk to yourself and admit that you have a social media addiction.

Admitting you have a problem is one of the most commonly heard statements when it comes to addictions. The same can be true about social media addiction, since talking about it may have a lot of beneficial consequences. It’s critical to talk about why your behaviors are troublesome if you want to change them (Ricci, 2018). This is because discussing and clarifying knowledge motivates most individuals to act and improve. 

Treatment for Social Media Addiction

The first step in treatment is to find whether a problem exists in you or not. If you do not believe you have a social media addiction problem, you no need to seek treatment. Consult with your nearby counseling center or psychiatrist and a few counseling sessions would help the person overcome the addiction. 

The intended treatment outcome and timeline for working toward recovery are highly dependent upon your motivation to change. If you are fully involved in treatment while utilizing doctors’ advice, changing your environment, and mindset, then the treatment outcome is favorable for you.

All of the above suggestions are stages toward a digital detox of social media. The advantages of a complete digital detox, on the other hand, much outweigh those of any of the other suggestions. Only when you eliminate social media from your daily routine do you realize how much more time you have for yourself and how much your mind is freed up.

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