The use of the internet for human communication and connectivity has established in society. According to Karim et al. (2020), at least 3484 people had social media account in 2019, which is an increase of 9% from 2018. Networking sites have advantages to people as they enhance interactions, entertainment, provides a medium for business advertisement, and is a source of income for some people. Similar to most technological innovations, the use of online channels also has detrimental effects. This study aims to discuss the findings from various sources on the effects of social media on mental health among young people.
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The results of my research indicate that social media platforms are essential for daily interactions. Sites such as Facebook, email, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Reddit, and YouTube have led to a revolution in communication, specifically within the school (Glazzard & Mitchell, 2018). The authors’ findings are trustworthy because they are experts in the field of education and thus relied on both experience and evidence in writing the book. Moreover, Mazzochi (2019) states that interactive multimedia has positive impacts on the emotional health of people who feel lonely or need anonymous help. Thus, social media platforms may influence individuals in a good way.
My findings also indicate that excessive consumption of social media has negative implications on cognition. In an expert panel discussion, Mazzochi (2019) shows that online platforms’ overuse leads to addiction, anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health challenges. Moreover, the choice of words can be analyzed by mathematicians to evaluate the mood of social media users (Schwartz, 2020). Glazzard and Mitchell (2018) also explain the negative implication of using social platforms on psychological conditions. Similarly, Houstman (2012) warns of the aversive consequences of the teenager’s psychological well-being. If persuasive appeals such as ethos, logos, and pathos are used to show such negative consequences, they can join panel discussions and learn to shorten the time spent conversing flipping through the smartphone.
Additionally, the use of online networking platforms reduces interpersonal communication, which destroys society. Institutions within the community are founded on the cultures of one on one conversations in person. The modern lifestyle, characterized by spending more time with gadgets, threatens to destroy the very fabrics that unit humanity (Coyne et al., 2020). To show the extent of the challenge, Mazzochi (2019) uses an advertisement with four youths sited side by side, each having their concentration on their smartphones. The scenario is the imagery of what always happens in the workplace, schools, and community gatherings. People can be physically present in a specific gathering but emotionally and socially detached from each other.
The other key finding in my study is that social media and its effects differ based on sex and age. Young adults are more likely to spend more time on their smartphones than middle-aged adults and the elderly. Advertisements on creating awareness of the effects of the internet use teenagers’ image, which coincides with the most affected population (Quesenberry, 2020). Similarly, a presenter who works in internet marketing says that the age group that uses networking websites more are 18-24 years (TEDx Talks, 2017). Correspondingly, Karim et al. (2020) state that men are more likely to use Snapchat, whereas women commonly use Facebook and LinkedIn. Thus, certain differences in using social media based on sex and age exist.
The most convincing sources are those written by Coyne and colleagues, Karim and colleagues, and Glazzard and Mitchell. I believe that these references are most credible because they are scholarly and provide evidence. However, the sample size for Coyne et al. (2020) was only 500, which cannot be generalizable. The other authors and presenters are experts and have significant knowledge on the topic, which gives some credibility. Nonetheless, their opinions are not supported by verifiable data. Hence, they have less efficacy.
Contradictory Findings and Alternative Explanations
A few researches contradict the verdict that increasing the time used in online interaction negatively affects mental health. For example, a longitudinal study indicates that increasing the time spent on networking sites did not significantly impact the psychology of young people aged 13 and 20 years (Coyne et al., 2020). The fact that there are contradictions suggests that external factors influence the emotional state of social media users. The other explanation is that the respondents did not provide truthful information in the consecutive years because they were already used to the responses to give in the questionnaire. Besides, the design limitations for long-term studies, such as having many drop-out respondents, also affect the validity of findings.
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The other contradictory finding is that there is no difference between social media use based on sex and age. For instance, Glazzard and Mitchell (2018) found no significant difference in networking websites across gender. The alternative explanation for the distinction is that the focus of the studies differed. The authors were studying the use of online networks in general. There was no specification regarding the types such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, among others. The implication is that boys and girls have different preferences regarding the networking platform that they use, but the impact is the same.
Outstanding Questions and Limitations
This research has shown that social media use for long hours has negative implications on mental health. These findings have not satisfied the topic since questions such as how online networking affects the brain. It is not apparent if the online conversations affect cognition because of such vices as addiction and lack of self-control regarding the time of visiting the networks. The other question that future researchers may consider investigating is why young people are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression due to excessive use of internet communities. Are young people more prone to addiction when compared to aged individuals?
This study has several methodological limitations that lower its reliability and credibility. The sample used for this study was low, and objectivity was not achieved in the analysis. Therefore, the findings cannot be generalized to the entire population of youths. Specific inclusion and exclusion criteria should always be used in selecting the empirical findings for analysis, which was not the case in this study. For example, the TEDxTalk, article by Houstman and Mazzochi’s panel discussion, is mostly based on expert opinions and not primary studies. Triangulation was not done in the analysis process to enhance the reliability of the study. The other limitation is that the research process took a short time.
Findings from this study show that the media networks are essential for daily operations. However, the continuous use of social media for a prolonged time can cause mental health challenges for young people. Uncontrolled use of public networks also destroys the fabrics of the society and its institution, straining one on one communication. By creating awareness, teenagers can be warned of the dangers of spending much time in online networks. This study also reveals some gender and age differences in the use of internet networking platforms. There were contradictions in some of the points, possibly due to the extraneous variables and differences in methodological designs. These discussions have implications for educating the youth despite some of the limitations that make it not generalizable.
Coyne, S. M., Rogers, A. A., Zurcher, J. D., Stockdale, L., & Booth, M. (2020). Does time spent using social media impact mental health?: An eight year longitudinal study. Computers in Human Behavior, 104, 106160. Web.
Karim, F., Oyewande, A. A., Abdalla, L. F., Ehsanullah, R. C., & Khan, S. (2020). Social media use and its connection to mental health: A systematic review. Cureus, 12(6), e8627. Web.
Glazzard, J., & Mitchell, C. (2018). Social media and mental health in schools. Critical Publishing.
Houstman, D. (2012). The antisocial effects of social media. The New York Times. Web.
Mazzochi, D. (2019). Rep. Mazzochi hosting social media and mental health forum. Patch. Web.
Quesenberry, K. A. (2020). Social media strategy: Marketing, advertising, and public relations in the consumer revolution (3rd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Schwartz, C. (2020). Is everybody doing … OK? Let’s ask social media. The New York Times. Web.
TEDx Talks. (2017). Is social media hurting your mental health? | Bailey Parnell | TEDxRyersonU [Video]. YouTube. Web.