Olivia K. Paul
Social media is very popular among teenagers and young adults. Even more, many adults have grown to become as addicted to social media as their children are.
The platforms known as “Instagram” and “Facebook” have the sole purpose of networking and staying in touch with family and friends, also including entertainment purposes. However, there has been a connection between social media, depression, and anxiety.
Teenagers and young adults that spend most of their time on these applications have been reported to have a higher rate of depression than those that spend less time. According to “childmind.org,” depression is defined as irritable sadness and withdrawal for a prolonged period of time. The question that was raised was “Is Facebook and Instagram causing depression?” There has not been any evidence that clearly indicates the causation but rather a correlation between the two.
Although some earlier generations also interact with these applications, the difference between them and young adults is that they know how to interact with people in person and do not spend all their time communicating and interacting electronically. This is because older people tend to have more responsibilities such as jobs/careers, children and bills to worry about. Some experts have found that “the rise in depression as evidence that the connections social media users form electronically are less emotionally satisfying, leaving them feeling socially isolated.” This evidence indicates that when teenagers and young adults feel less connected to other humans in a “deep and empathic” way, then they are not really interacting the way that they should. This leaves them feeling socially isolated even though they may be spending numerous amount of hours online.
Based on data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), depression and suicide are the two major health concerns with over 400,000 Americans dying from suicide every year. The CDC also includes that another possible result is the “growing popularity of electronic communication.” In addition to this, some research suggests that social media “increases feelings of loneliness.” This stems back to the fact that teenagers and young adults spend most of their time behind screens which limits their human interaction.
Not only does social media take a toll on mental health, but studies show that it can also affect your self-esteem. On social media platforms, we often see many photo-shopped and edited pictures. These are the same pictures that young adults internalize and compare themselves to which lowers their self-esteem. Inclusively, social media impacts young females’ confidence because they often see celebrities who appear to be thinner, flaunt their wealth and overall are living the lifestyle that they want. Based on a poll, women take an average of seven photos before they find the picture they like. Alexandra Hamlet, PsyD, a psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, mentioned that selfies can be entertaining and “lighthearted,” however, they do have a negative side. She explains that these fun images become a problem when they begin to measure one’s self-worth. Many altering apps such as “Facetune” and “RetouchMe” are popularly used to change a person’s imperfections in pictures. Because of these filters and post-production platforms, many teenagers get used to seeing their peers in “perfect” light. This ultimately leads to young people feeling emotions of anxiety, depression and concerned about their overall body image.
In reference to “Child Mind Institute,” another reason why depression and anxiety are linked to social media is that individuals spend more time online than actually doing physical activities. Also, young adults spend less time accomplishing new skills and discovering new talents which cut back on building confidence, feelings of success and achievements. Alexandra Hamlet also discusses how those spending hours on their devices are not doing activities that actually make them feel good about themselves. Hamlet states “you get a little dopamine burst whenever you get a notification, or a like on a picture, or a follow request. But those things are addicting without being satisfying.” The addiction to the interactions on social media that many teenagers and young adults have is what keeps them unconsciously attached.
Social media also has a correlation to sleep deprivation, which links back to depression. For example, researchers have found that “60 percent of adolescents are looking at their phones in the last hour before sleep, and that they get on average an hour less sleep than their peers who don’t use their phones before bed.” In addition to this, the blue light from the phone screens is reported to make its users have trouble falling asleep. Individuals would log onto Facebook expecting to spend at least 10 minutes and an hour goes by and they haven’t even realized. This sets back one’s time to rest, making them more tired the next day.
Social media was made to collaborate with businesses, keep in touch with family and friends, and entertain. Depression and anxiety are the results of numerous teenagers and young adults spending an ample amount of time online, which is draining their self-esteem and mental health whether they realize it or not.
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