How much time do you spend on social media each day
How much time do you spend on social media each day? According to a study by the non-profit organization Common Sense Media, the average teen spends four hours and thirty-eight minutes on their phone each day. The rise of social media and phone usage in general, in recent years have caused many students, parents, scientists, and lawmakers to question the actions that occur on its various platforms. Steps to control the behavior of social media users include laws prohibiting cyberbullying; however, many still wonder how social media affects the mental health of its users. Issues such as Facebook depression, social isolation, cyberbullying, and suicide are linking to social media.
One phenomenon, known as “Facebook Depression,” as explained in the journal, The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families, “When preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.” (Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson). Interaction and social experiences are important for young children, but the intensity of social media can cause lower self-esteem, and even symptoms of depression. The constant bombardment of what society believes to be beautiful causes many people to strive to be something they are not. Doctor Steiner-Adair states, “Girls are socialized more to compare themselves to other people, girls in particular, to develop their identities, so it makes them more vulnerable to the downside of all this.” (Rachel Ehmke, Child Mind Social). The comparison of our lives to someone else, whether better or worse, in the long run cause people to feel worse. The ways of thinking that come from social media are much darker than most people give them credit for. Social media is made for the interaction of people from all over the world, but illnesses such as depression cause social isolation, not interaction. The very principle of social media is made void by the mental illnesses it causes.
Dictionary.com defines social isolation as, “A state or process in which persons, groups, or cultures lose or do not have communication or cooperation with one another, often resulting in open conflict.” Social isolation has a positive correlation to social media use. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. it states, “Young adults with high SMU Social Media Use seem to feel more socially isolated than their counterparts with lower SMU.” (Brian A. Primack). The more time a teen spends on social media platforms the more socially isolated they perceive themselves to be, it seems contradictory. However a Forbes article titled 6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health, shines some light on the topic, “There seems to be a cap on the number of friends a person’s brain can handle, and it takes actual social interaction (not virtual) to keep up these friendships.” (Alice G. Walton) Just because you have “friends” on social media does not mean you are more social. The time teens spend on social media can take away from time spent with real friends. This can cause a strain on their relationship leading to perceived social isolation. Friends or followers online cannot give teens the same joy friends in the real world can.
Another massive issue with social media is cyberbullying. “Cyberbullying is deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about another person. It is the most common online risk for all teens and is a peer-to-peer risk.” (Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson) One of the major differences between physical bullying and cyberbullying, is online bullying does not stop when the victim goes home, like physical bullying does. It is hard to punch someone when they are safe at home, but it is easier to tear them down with words twenty-four-seven online. Something else that differentiates cyberbullying from other forms of bullying is the intensity of verbal abuse that cyberbullying allows. As Dr. Donna Wick, a clinical and developmental psychologist who runs Mind to Mind Parent, states, “Kids text all sorts of things that you would never in a million years contemplate saying to anyone’s face.” This leads to worsening bullying as children become increasing attached to their phones and social media pages leading to teen suicide. The journal article Social Media and Suicide: A Public Health Perspective states, “Cyberbullying, when directly or indirectly linked to suicide, has been referred to as cyberbullicide.” (David D. Luxton) Cyberbullying’s relation to suicide is such a problem that it even has a name.
Suicide rate in teen girls have reached a forty-year high. In a breakdown from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they found that suicide rates in boys rose thirty percent and doubled among girls from the year 2007 to 2015. Dr. Christine Moutier of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is quoted in an NBC news article saying “On the one hand, kids are at younger and younger ages, are being exposed to all sorts of influences via social media and so, one example that could do harm to a child who is at risk of mental health problems or suicide is that they are experiencing and perceiving themselves and the world around them through a lens that might be distorted by depression.” (Maggie Fox). By comparing their lives to the lives their peers life on social media teens, especially girls, are at an increased risk of suicide.
However, social media is not all bad. Most people have family members or friends who live far away. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow for long-distance communication, and for people to stay in touch and involved of loved ones who live far away. One of its positive effects is enabling teens to become more confident and independent. A Teen Shield article on the positive effects of social media states, “Young people learn to mold their character to be more confident and independent in order to be heard or have a positive online presence.” (Kelly Austin) Have you ever been in a group message and rushed to text before the subject changes? In this instance teenagers are learning how to assert themselves and speak their minds. Journal article, The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families, speaks about how social media can cause teens to be more creative it says, “Enhancement of individual and collective creativity through development and sharing of artistic and musical endeavors.” (Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson) Fan art pages and cover channels have created a place for teens and adults alike to express themselves, and have people recognize their talents. Social media allows for creation and innovation something every person can relate to. Creation and innovation create an outlet for teens stress.
In conclusion, the increasing popularity of social media, especially in teens, has caused many mental health diseases. Facebook depression and cyberbullying lead to increase social isolation and thoughts or actions of suicide. However, social media is not all bad and can lead to positive effects on the psyche of its users. Social media can cause its users to become more confident, independent, creative, and innovative. The use of social media platforms also allow for long-distance communication and a way to see and be involved in the lives of friends and family who live far away. The pros and cons of social media are almost equal, but with the right intent social media can be a powerful platform for good.