In the past couple of years, people have become increasingly aware of the adverse effects social media has on their mental health. Of course, numerous studies and scientific proof have contributed to the public awareness of how harmful social media is, but, no one is really willing to ditch their social media accounts. Everyone is still on their phones, scrolling endlessly through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other time-demanding social media platforms. Is it because social media is addictive or because we’re always looking for approval from strangers on the Internet, but after hours of being active on these platforms, we all feel worse than we used to.
Social media is known to affect the way people feel and largely influences one’s self-esteem, mental disorders, loneliness, isolation and can even lead to suicide. This is the actual reality of the massive impact social media has on our day-to-day lives. So, in order to understand this phenomenon, we’re going to look into the ways social media harms our health. But, before we continue, make sure to hop over to Edusson in case you need writing services or instructions when it comes to essay and paper writing.
There has been a study, carried out at the University of Pennsylvania that has asked 140 undergraduates to either continue their regular use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat or to limit their social media exposure to 10 minutes a day per platform, which makes 30 minutes total. Before the actual test, the participants were also asked to fill out questionnaires regarding their psychological health, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and even the ‘fear of missing out.’
The results of the test were as expected; participants who have limited their social media exposure to 30 minutes have increased the quality levels of their mood and lowered the levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Those who have, however, decided to stick to using social media regularly had higher levels of depression. The bottom line of this study is a clear proof of social media affecting our levels of depression and other mental disorders, just as the fact that by decreasing our exposure to social media we can reduce the feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Here are some possible reasons for such an outcome:
- By lowering social media exposure, we’re not anxious about posting regularly in order to attract attention, likes, comments, and shares
- Social media is time-demanding, so by decreasing the use, we are more open to real life connection and events
- By reducing social media exposure, we can focus on improving our lives and actually look around
- By ditching social media, we are diminishing the feeling of loneliness and isolation
In order to fully understand the harmful impact of social media on our mental health, let’s take a look at some more examples of detriments of social media, according to All Psychology Schools:
- Social media increases the feeling of inadequacy due to constant comparison to other users
- Social media use can show signs of social anhedonia, which stands for inability feel happy about certain activities one should usually enjoy, including interaction with other people
- Social media use increases the chances of becoming addicted to smartphones and other technology, as there were cases of Internet addiction that showed emotional shutdown, withdrawal symptoms and inability to focus
- Social media can make it difficult for people to communicate in person, causing social phobia
Most of the harmful effects of social media on our physical health stem from the increased amount of time we spend staring at our phones and computer screens. From back pain to spine disruption and wrist injuries, excessive social media exposure can be just as harmful to our physical health as it is to our mental health. To get a better grasp of the scope of deleterious effects, let’s take a look at each one individually:
Numerous medical and scientific studies have shown alarming results when it comes to the physical effects of hours-long use of smartphones and computers for the sake of social media exposure. The users of smartphones have been seen to develop rounded shoulders, spinal curvatures, vertebrate disorders, and associated neck pain and headaches caused by the overall physical health disorder. Because the use of a smartphone or a computer requires you to be hunched over, your posture suffers immensely, altering muscles and bones in our torsos over a short period being exposed to extensive tech and social media use.
• Eating Disorders
According to Magnolia-Creek, a recent study of women between the ages of 18 and 25 showed a link between Instagram use and self-objectification, body image concerns and ultimately eating disorders. Americans usually spend around two hours per day on Instagram, being exposed to unrealistic body representations and beauty ideals promoted by the celebrities (who have evidently undergone plastic surgeries and use a ton of Instagram filters to enhance their images). So, social media, especially Instagram use is directly associated with a higher prevalence of orthorexia nervosa symptoms, and many other types of eating disorders. It is no secret that exposure to unrealistic beauty ideals on Instagram also contributes to obesity, due to mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
It is a known fact that smartphones emit blue light which is too bright and too harmful for our eyes. By starring at the phone screen for hours, especially at night, we are exposing our eyes to the blue light excessively, causing damage to our retinas and macular degeneration, which stands for worsening eyesight. Moreover, many ophthalmologists are suggesting that there might be a connection between smartphone use and cataracts with increasingly younger patients. Before the smartphones and social media, usually people of 75 years and older were experiencing cataracts issues.
• Disrupted Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things regarding our health, as it helps our brain and body to recover, recharge and get ready for the next day. However, to achieve and maintain a good night’s sleep, we need to get rid of all types of disruptions, like smartphones, for example. By starring at the screen of our smartphone at night are we not only harming our eyesight, but we are also deceiving our body into thinking that we need to be awake due to all the light exposure. This leads to body delaying melatonin production, which is vital for sleep and prevents us from having healthy and quality sleep patterns.