Social Media Usage and Mental Health Issues - The Herald: #Life

Social Media Usage and Mental Health Issues

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Posted: Saturday, April 16, 2016 9:59 pm

Is there a link between Facebook and the mental health of young adults?

“I have three social media accounts: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook,” said sophomore accounting and finance major, Drew Jones of Fort Smith. “I think I’m on social media like a total of four or five hours a day.”

Take a second to imagine a world without social media. It’s a little difficult to picture, right? Social media has rapidly become an integral part of everyday life. It is rare that students aren’t checking their news feed on Twitter, snapping pictures of their lunch for Instagram or trying out the newest filters on Snapchat (hello rainbow vomit).

Many students have developed a dependency on social media; a dependency that can have negative effects over time, even mental health related issues.

Because young adults are the most avid social media users, is it too far-fetched to say that they are the most susceptible to social media related mental health issues? Probably not.

Social media has been linked to depression, narcissistic personality disorder and insomnia. The chances of developing any of these and other mental illnesses are higher in young adults than any other group.

What aspects of social media cause it to be so detrimental? For starters, social media are highly addictive. The network effect—and idea that a social network becomes more valuable as more people connect to it—also tricks people into becoming more addicted.

The fear of missing out on a post or “like” is enough to keep people coming back for more. Some scholars and researchers have even argued that social media are as addictive and habitual as crack cocaine.

Along with its addictive qualities, social media has also been known to cause depression. A study published in the academic journal “Computers in Human Behavior” discovered that participants who spent a large amount of time online displayed more symptoms of clinical depression. Frequent social media use also causes people to compare themselves to others. Following celebrities, fitness gurus and makeup artists ingrains this idea of “perfection” into the minds of young adults; often causing young adults to glamorize lives they feel are better than their own. In some students, this can cause insecurities and self-esteem issues.

Some students, however, are affected a little differently and may develop narcissistic personality disorder: a disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance. Social media cause young adults to seek instant gratification in the form of “likes”, “shares” or “retweets”. This sense of entitlement may then carry over into real life.

Restlessness and even insomnia are also side effects to frequent social media use. Cell phone screens emit light that keeps people awake by stimulating the retinas, according to sleep disorder specialist Dr. Myrza Perez. A disrupted sleep pattern can affect memory and even result in difficulty focusing.

Due to the fact that young adults are often multitasking while on several social networks—often, at once—attention spans are shortened.

The sad truth about social media is that they have opened the door for another type of bullying.

Cyberbulling has become a huge problem since the dawn of social media. Enough Is Enough, an organization that promotes internet safety, conducted a survey that found 95 percent of teenagers who use social media have witnessed cyberbullying, and 33 percent have been victims of cyberbulling.

Even worse, cyberbullying has been linked to depression and low self-esteem and may even have more irreversible effects.

“Sometimes, when people I know on post an indirect tweet it makes me think that they’re talking about me,” said junior Special Education major, Alexis Cox of Paragould, “It can put me in this state of questioning myself, like selfdoubt.”

Though social media has many positive aspects, it is still important to be aware of the negative effects it can have, as well.

Early mental health issues are alarming because they can predict more problematic issues in the future. Because social media dependency is also increasing, it’s vital that young adults are aware of the potential risks.

No matter what you use your social media for, take a second to put down the phone every once in awhile and pick up a book, or write in a journal.

Even backing away from your phone for a few hours can have serious benefits. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can wait.

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