Human beings have been designed with a natural desire for socializing. To thrive in life one needs to have social relationships. Relationships and connections that can boost mental health, providing comfort and joy, increase a sense of self-worth and self-confidence. But how well or worse social media is serving the purpose to connect people. Is social media usage and depression are correlated? Or social media has no such side effect? Probably stats about social media usage are not well. We will see how social media is the leading cause of loneliness, depression, the feeling of being useless, and other mental health issues.
Tech gurus designed modern-day applications like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, etc. to connect people around the globe and to promote socializing. But, are they really helping you with connecting with people?. Or are they becoming one of the main causes of the spike in depression throughout the world?
In the 21st century, it can easily be said that almost every person on this planet is connected to at least one platform because of high social media penetration. Above all, Facebook and Instagram have now become a “Status Symbol”. Hence, society often considers people with no Social Media accounts as an outcast. We have forgotten, Social Media interactions can never be a replacement for real-life face to face interactions. In-person contact triggers your hormones, alleviating your stress levels, making you feel happier, healthier, and making your feel more positive each day.
MODERN DAY SLAVERY
Smartphones have been a major breakthrough technology in the modern world. As a result, these applications have made our lives convenient and easier. Above all, connecting people all around the globe without the need to travel. However, it cannot be ignored that these platforms are now only one-touch away from us. This hyper-connectivity can trigger impulse control problems in our body without us realizing it. The constant alerts and the pings of the notifications can disrupt your concentration levels. As a result, it can become difficult for you to focus on a single objective. So, it can also have drastic effects on your sleep cycle. If you are checking on your phone right before going to bed, then there are high chances of having uncomfortable sleep or you waking up throughout the night. Consequently, perturbing your sleeping patterns may have major effects on your body later on.
In the time before social media, elite groups used to enslave the minority groups. And now the constant need to check your phones for notifications has made you a similar modern-day slave or worse.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
In the United States, today, you’re statistically more likely to use social media. Roughly 77 percent of Americans have a social media profile of some kind.
Social Media can become a problem in various ways. For instance, it can hinder you to face people in real life, decreasing your self-confidence and distract you from your school, work, or outdoor activities, etc.
Here are some of the common effects of social media in your personal life:
FOMO (Fear of missing out)
Amy Summerville, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Miami University in Ohio states:
The FOMO experience specifically is this feeling that I could have been there and I wasn’t. I do think that part of the reason that’s powerful is this cue that maybe we’re not being included by people we have important social relationships with.
Imagine you see a post of your best friend, posing and enjoying at a party. But he did not invite you. How would you feel? Sidelined, or ditched? Likely. Or imagine sitting blank in the middle of a group of people, talking about a topic that was trending last night on Facebook. As a result, that constant fear of missing out hooks you to social media. Thus, it urges you to constantly check on what’s trending, as a result, making you vulnerable to FOMO.
QUESTIONING YOUR APPEARANCE/LIFE
We feel jealous and start questioning ourselves when we look at the Social Media posts of people posting their “having good time” pictures. For example, seeing your friend posting his pictures of traveling now and then. Consequently, you start considering your life boring by comparing yourself with it. It is also to be noted that we can’t see in pictures what is going on in the mind and life in general. Maybe they are going through the worst times of their lives. We are well aware that most people tend to share the highlights of their lives, highly edited, but we still watch them. Although that doesn’t lessen your feelings of being envy and dissatisfaction with your life.
SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE CAUSES DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
“The less you are connected with human beings in a deep, empathic way, the less you’re getting the benefits of social interaction,” points out Alexandra Hamlet, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institue. “The more superficial it is, the less likely it’s going to cause you to feel connected, which is something we all need.”
In the U.S., individuals check Facebook and other sites on their smartphones on an average of 17 times per day and spend a staggering 4.7 hours per day using their phones. Considering that most of us are only awake for about 15 hours per day, this means that the average person spends a third of his or her time on the phone and checks social media at least once per hour.
The time that can be spent doing productive activities, like engaging in a healthy conversation with friends, exercising, playing sports, and meditation, etc. on the other hand is being wasted scrolling down social media. Sadly, spending most of your day on social media usage platforms increases depression and anxiety
REAL VS VIRTUAL WORLD
In today’s technological stratosphere, it’s almost impossible for a person to avoid digital relationships. Certainly, Social Media has connected every individual to each other. There can be many advantages of having digital connections but when these digital personas start to replace the real ones, that’s when it becomes alarming. Dr. Brian Primack states:
People who are already having depressive symptoms start to use social media more, perhaps because they do not feel the energy or drive to engage in as many direct social relationships.
For some time, a digital relationship can make you feel better, but it can never replace real-life interactions. Digital platforms might provide you with plenty of options for communication. It can offer different modes of communication like written chat, audio messages, video calls, etc. But it lacks the magic and essence of creativity and imagination which you feel and experience in real-life interactions.
A CASE STUDY ON SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE AND DEPRESSION
A U.S funded research published in the “Journal of Depression and Anxiety” by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found how social media and depression are correlated. The research involved nearly 1,800 individuals and tracked their usage of some well-known social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube.
The results found show that the participants checked onto their social media platforms for around 30 times per hour during a week. A quarter of the participants were at high risk of being depressed, consequently, revealed after a depression testing. After comparing social media users, the study revealed that people with the most usage of social media were 2.7 times higher at risk of depression than people who use the platforms the least. You may find it interesting, you can check by learning 5 Alarming Signs of Depression
Dr. Brian Primack, the Director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health at the University of Pittsburgh also discussed the study and added that “In fact, there certainly are many groups of people who find solace and lessening of their depression through social media. However, the overall findings suggest that, on a population level, more social media use and more depression are correlated.”
HOW CAN WE BE SAFE?
Social media is not all wrong. We never said it. But excess of anything is bad. Here are the symptoms that can tell you when social media is doing more harm than good to you.
- If Social Media is interrupting you in your work or your relationships.
- Unable to enjoy the real-life events because your mind is hooked onto your digital personas.
- Struggling to cut down your social media usage.
If you find yourself being a victim of any of these symptoms, then it’s high time to put down those screens and reconsider your thoughts for your life.
Some preventive tips:
- Set time slots/limits for checking on social media.
- Remove unnecessary accounts from your phone.
- Start a challenge with your friend and support each other throughout.
- Keep your phone away before going to bed. (Stop using it 1 hour before going to bed).
After trying all this measure, if you can’t stay away from it or you feel like being lonely or depressed, then reach out for professional help. Consequently, the stats also say that an unhealthy mind starts having suicidal thoughts as well.
If your mind is healthy, your life will be splendid!
**During the time of COVID 19, you are bound to use a lot of these platforms. For instance, connecting with your loved ones, friends, etc. But, you have to be mindful of how much you spend your time on these platforms. If you feel like you are getting too involved in these platforms, then start taking steps to control them before it gets control over you because:
Mental Health Matters!