Negative, If Not Worst Effect Of Social Media
“95% of all teens who have access to internet devices are online and this number has increased by 26% over the last 15 years. Adult users on social media have jumped from 8% to 71% in the last 10 years.”
On any given day, I snap at my teenaged daughter, at least once a day, when I see her buried in her Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook page.
I hear other parents making similar complaints and feel it myself when I am engaging too much on my social media accounts.Considering it a part of my job does not make it any better. I would much rather talk to a human face than a screen but what does scare me is the degree of addiction to social media I have developed over time.
It never hit me till I spent a few days abroad recently, constantly on the move keeping off social media to avoid the skyrocketing internet charges and limited time to access web connectivity.
I know I felt almost unarmed and caught myself searching for some missing piece ( I had kept my phone away in the hotel room ).
Fortunately, I had a lot to engage with, so I could snap of it quickly but what of the children and teenagers who have grown up with this?
Just to go deeper into documented and researched mental health consequences of excessive social media use.There are studies that show how Internet addiction causes neurological complications, psychological disturbances, and social problems.
Excessive use is correlated with symptoms of addiction as well as neuroticism. Disordered social network use can lead to sleep disorders and behavioral changes.
Too much dependence on validation received online can lead to social anxiety and depression that serves as a trigger for other body image and eating disorders and worsens symptoms of ADHD. Children and teens are especially susceptible to cyberbullying and online abuse.
On an everyday basis couples, families and even workplaces have experienced a breakdown of communication and fractured relationships which affects overall wellbeing.
Sounds scary, doesn't it?
There are more such alarming bodies of research on the harmful effects of that little device we hold so tightly in our hands.
Social Media Is Not Always Bad
However, it is not all bad news on the social media front. It is still a valuable tool to increase social connections. For people already suffering from social anxiety, it can help to develop online relations minus the stress that faces to the face interactions cause. There are numerous mutual support groups for people in difficult circumstances that allow people to participate keeping their privacy concerns.
I know how a lady who reached out for support citing family abuse, could join a social media support group to get back on her feet. Many budding entrepreneurs can vouch for the advantages offered to enterprises looking to grow their businesses.I personally have found social media platforms a great way to connect with people with a similar worldview with whom I may never have connected offline.
It has helped me grow and evolve in multiple ways. Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that those who use social media primarily to feel connected, do not experience the negative effects. In fact, if not triggering feelings of envy, social media is a good resource and can have a positive effect on well being.
To avoid social media-induced emotional or mental health issues, it would help to stop using it as tools of comparison or be aware that it represents a virtual reality, one that is biased and colored. We show people what we want them to see.others do likewise. Keeping a few checks and balances for ourselves will help. You might want to answer or at least consider these questions
Self-help to Overcome Negative Effects of Social Media
a.) How do you engage on social media?
- Do you primarily share your thoughts and opinions?
- Reshare others opinions that you agree with?
- Reshare opinions that you are required to because they boost the image you want to cultivate?
- Try to engage with others to boost your social or professional image?
b.) How much time do you spend on social media in a day?
- Up to 2 hrs
- 2-4 hours
- 4-6 hours
- More than the above
c.) How long can you go without logging into your social media accounts ( when not required to do professionally ?)
- Less than 2 hours
- Up to 6 hours
- More than 12 hours
- More than 1 day
d.) Who do you first share a great piece of news with?
- On social media
If your answer to the above is always the first option, you are using social media in the way it is meant to be -as a means to an end.If you are on options two and three, you are definitely in control but need to watch the balance and maintain it If you are always ticking the last option, you need serious help.
Social media is a part of our life, not our whole life.How you engage and how much you engage will determine whether you end up enslaved or in control. At the end of the day, it is a tool that exists to bring in connectedness for satisfaction, happiness and to celebrate our lives not to become a caricature of others expectations and demands.So remember to tune out to life, often. Use your online interactions to facilitate real-time meetings and relationships. Remember real-time issues of emotional well being like self-esteem, empathy, happiness, and companionship can only be built through mindful ways. So its such mindful usage of technology and media that will help us win in the real world.
Feel free to put your views about this issue in the comments section below.