The negative affects of social media

Social media has many negatives that have become more predominant due to the increased use.

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Social media has many negatives that have become more predominant due to the increased use.

There are many benefits to social media, such as being able to talk to your friends at any time, getting news instantly and following your favorite celebrities. With these benefits there are also drawbacks to having access to all this information. FOMO, or fear of missing out, is common when you see your friends all together and you have not been included. This has become more common due to people posting about every activity they are doing, and who they are doing it with.

An increased rate of cyberbullying and stalking social media to see what celebrity is living their best life are also ways social media can negatively impact young people and their mental health.

A junior at Stephen Decatur High School, Rachel McAteer, states, “Yes, it does affect my mental health. I feel as though I am constantly comparing myself to others and their lives.” Unfortunately, many teens feel the same way towards social media influencers and their lifestyles. Jealousy plays a large roll in these situations when people spend time thinking “I wish that was me.”

Along with jealousy, social media can create many other feelings for people such as sadness when you are left out. Anxiety about what to post and anger about not achieving the “perfect appearance.”

Lauren Sharky, one of the several school counselors at Decatur, states, “Social media provides a snapshot of someone’s life. Usually this snapshot is a filtered representation of a person. This representation often presents people in their most interesting or most flattering position. I worry about teens’ mental health as they compare their own lives with what they perceive to be someone else’s normal. This comparison fosters insecurity.”

Insecurities in everyone, especially girls, have become a large stress factor in our everyday lives. Celebrities, influencers and even the people at your high school post pictures and videos with filters, making their face and bodies seem perfect, even when they are not. The usage of apps such as FaceTune and Photoshop allow for these distortions of pictures and help increase teenagers’ body-image self-doubt.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying has also increased drastically in the past few years. According to comparitech.com, “60 percent of parents with children ages 14 to 18 have reported cyberbullying.”

Bullying can have a negative effect on our mental health, and cyberbullying is the most common way bullies attack now. Hiding behind a screen gives the perpetrators more strength and the ability to strike and demean others anonymously. These posts and images can be used to bombard the victim and be shared with others to further cause harm.

Due to the increased usage of social media and technology, guidance counselors at every school are resolving problems created by cyberbullying. “I have also seen first hand, that often, without face to face interaction, on screen, people seem to have less empathy. They say things about people that are way less likely to be said in person,” states Sharkey.

Cyberbullying can lead to depression, creating other mental and physical conditions. Eating disorders and suicidal thoughts are some of the most common effects, especially in teens.

Michele Hamm, a researcher at the University of Alberta, and her colleagues conducted ten studies looking for a link between depression and social media, finding a correlation in every one.

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, “cyber victims reported higher depression than cyber bullies or bully-victims, which was not found in any other form of bullying. Unlike traditional bullying which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser; as such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack.”

Although there are many positives to increased social media access, young people must consider the various negatives and pay attention to increased feelings of isolation, depression and jealousy as well as cyber bullying.

Taking breaks from a screen, spending time with friends in person and recognizing celebrities just as they are will help reduce mental health concerns for our youth.