Take A Break From Social Media: It’s Affecting Your Mental Health

Social Media Apps

Adam Holland

A “like” goes a long way. We can all agree that social media is one of the forms of technology to ever be created. With the ability to communicate, connect and share virtually across the globe, social media has sunk its digital claws into the world. Even with the glamour and beauty, social media is doing more harm than good, especially to millennials and Gen Z. Facts are facts. This social media pandemic is rapidly spreading with no desire to slow down.

The overuse of social media can be linked to deteriorating mental health issues that include: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, suicide, FOMO, and low quality of sleep. Think to yourself: How many times have you stayed up late scrolling on Twitter or Instagram? How many times are you checking the likes of your most recent post or Facebook notifications? 

As reported by Kepios, Global Social Media statistics show that more than four billion people use social media platforms across the world. Therefore, over half the globe’s population is digitally connected and active across the multimedia landscape. Dating back to the emergence of social media, i.e, Youtube and MySpace, the popularity has spiked tremendously. Dreamgrow recently released “The 15 Biggest Social Media Sites and Apps [2021]”, detailing the number of active users to indicate popularity, engagement, and growth. 

Here’s how the top five shaped out: Facebook topped the list with 2.74 billion active users. Youtube filled the second spot at 2.291 billion active users. WhatsApp follows with 2.0 billion active users. Facebook Messenger and Instagram round out the four and five spots, respectively earning 1.3 billion users and 1.221 billion active users. With the awaited release of the iPhone in 2007, smartphones have fast-tracked the increase of social media. Now, almost 80% of the world’s population has the ability to reach the masses across the globe.

Mental Health and Social Media

According to Science Daily, the release of smartphones and mental health concerns have increased in children and young adults. “Adolescents reported symptoms of major depression in a given year increased by 52% from 2005 to 2017. From 2009 to 2017, it grew by 63% in adults ages 18 to 25.”

Studies also prove, “Experiencing psychological distress in a given month grew 71% in young adults from 2008 to 2017. Even worse, the rate of suicidal thoughts in young adults increased 47% during that same time.”

Social media has created a false sense of reality and the desire for social acceptance and worth has crippled the minds of young adults and teens.

Teens on their phones

A once positive-friendly and leisure app has turned into the medium of ultimate competition, pitting yourself and self-image up against someone else’s “profile”. You don’t even realize that you have synchronized your mental health with the false reality of social media.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. This quote is a powerful sentiment that truly reflects the global influence of social media. If you continue to compare yourself to others, only two results will come to the forefront. 

On one hand, you can be the one being compared to a superior exposing feelings of jealousy, envy, or admiration that usually sit with one feeling inferior. Overall, the comparison is unhealthy and can be the root of diminishing one’s self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth.  Leon Festinger is rolling in his grave right about now.

How do you know you’re black and poor? There are rich white people around. How do you know you’re short? There’s a taller person standing next to you.

American social psychologist, Leon Festinger, theorized the idea of social comparison. Festinger suggested that humans have and that we humans come to a sense of who we are through comparison. 

Leon Festinger

Festinger believed that we live in a world of social comparison, and social media has taught us to create this mindset of perfection and socialistic expectations.

There’s an addictive quality that social media possesses. The ability to get users to constantly check, post, and view content are impressive yet dangerous. Social comparison through social media has played a role in the desire for unrealistic body compositions and relationship goals that are essentially unachievable.

Social media has heightened cyber-bullying over the last decade. What may seem harmless joking and innocent fun, the psychological effects run deeper than the surface. Breaks from social media are necessary and sometimes, life-saving.

According to the Pew Research Center, “The Pew Research Center’s 2018 survey of U.S. teens determined that one in six teenagers have experienced at least one of six different forms of abusive behavior online:

  • Name-calling (42%)
  • Spreading false rumors (32%)
  • Receiving unsolicited explicit images (25%)
  • Having their activities and whereabouts tracked by someone other than a parent (21%)
  • Someone making physical threats (16%)
  • Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7%)”

With all the other-worldly characteristics these apps can offer, do not let yourself fall into this mental bondage because while your pictures can have filters and be edited to perfection, the real you is suffering and can not be edited to perfection. Being content and comfortable in your skin is the true reward.

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