It is well known that nowadays, due to the development of information technologies, social media play a significant role in people’s lives. Thus, social media allow people to share different types of data through virtual reality, reach large audiences in a short period, and achieve business success. However, even though using social media brings some advantages, it also has several drawbacks. For instance, the excessive use of social media affects the psychological well-being of humans negatively as it results in depression, loneliness, and anxiety. In this paper, the evaluation of the adverse psychological effects of social media on people will be conducted. Also, the evidence that supports the argument stated above will be presented. In addition, the recommendations on how to deal with the negative impact of social media will be included.
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Indeed, it is difficult to imagine people’s lives in the 21st century without social media. It serves as an excellent tool, which helps people to communicate, share announcements, and even work distantly. Moreover, this tool is very comfortable to use because it can be utilized anywhere, even on the board of an airplane. In addition, it saves a lot of time because, with the development of social media, people do not have to reach every person separately to share their news. Instead, it is enough to push a button and send the announcement to a group of individuals. Also, the utilization of social media allows saving some financial means, especially for those who are involved in the business. For instance, before the creation of social media, people had to rent rooms and book tickets for traveling to visit business meetings. Now, they can learn new business ideas, share these ideas with others, and collaborate with their colleagues distantly, using social media applications. Therefore, it is not surprising that social media has occupied a significant place in humans’ lives.
However, it is necessary to understand that excessive use of social media can result in negative consequences for people’s health. Thus, it may result in troubled sleep, lack of physical activity, and low self-esteem. While it might seem that all the mentioned issues are not connected with the mental health of people, in reality, it harms the psychological well-being of humans. It leads to anxiety, depression, and stress, which is especially dangerous for teenagers, whose mental state is not stable.
Indeed, excessive use of popular social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, results in the low self-esteem of people, which leads to stress and anxiety. Thus, a group of scholars from Pakistan conducted a survey, which aimed to reveal how social media affects the self-esteem of people. 150 people participated in interviews and questionnaires. The results of the study suggested that about 88% of those who use social networking sites make social comparisons (Jan et al. 329). The majority of those who compare their lives with the lives of other people find that they have feelings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and even envy. Moreover, the researchers revealed that only one hour a day spent on Facebook leads to “a 5.574 decrease in the self-esteem score of an individual” (Jan et al. 329). Thus, the researchers proved that there is a strong connection between self-esteem and the utilization of social media.
The negative consequences mentioned above are ensured by the fact that people tend to share only positive moments of their lives, without mentioning any difficulties they have to overcome regularly. As a result, those who observe the happy life of other users think that they do something wrong as they experience many problems and negative moments. Moreover, some individuals start thinking that they miss out on something, and there is a need to change their lives. However, many people do not have a chance to change anything due to certain circumstances, which makes them feel helpless. These feelings and thoughts result in anxiety and loss of harmony. Therefore, it can be concluded that social media harm peoples’ self-esteem, which leads to unhappiness.
Another factor that is worth mentioning in terms of the negative impact of social media on the mental health of people is troubled sleep. At first sight, it might seem that using social media does not affect sleep. However, it is well known that social media can be accessed with the help of digital devices, such as notebooks, smartphones, computers, tablets, and so on. These devices are the main producers of blue light, which is absorbed by people while using electronic equipment. Unfortunately, there are various research projects and academic works that prove the fact that blue light may cause different health problems, including mental issues. It happens because of the destructive impact of blue light on sleep. Sleeping promotes the production of the hormone, which is called melatonin. Melatonin is in charge of the promotion of high-quality sleep. Blue light, however, reduces the amount of melatonin produced during sleeping. Thus, there is a recent study that proves the destructive nature of blue light toward sleep as it contributes “to the high prevalence of reported sleep dysfunction” (Headline Science 18). Unfortunately, regular sleep disturbance leads to mental health issues.
A group of scholars conducted research related to the connection between the lack of high-quality sleep and mental issues. While troubled sleep leads to certain issues with physical health, it may also cause various mental health issues, including fatigue and irritability (Radtke, Obermann, and Teymer 178). If a person experiences these symptoms regularly, it inevitably leads to exhaustion, stress, and depression. The situation is further aggravated when people do not have a rest from social media, and, being depressed, continue using networking websites trying to entertain themselves. As a result, their emotional feelings are deteriorated, which exacerbates depression. Therefore, it is significant for people to control the amount of time spent on social media, especially before bedtime.
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There is an opinion that social media facilitate physical activity, especially among youth. It is often stated that networking websites promote competitions, which encourage people to participate in physical exercise to have a more beautiful and healthy body image. Moreover, there are many communities and social groups in the virtual world that were created to share different types of exercises, such as yoga, Pilates, and so on. Unfortunately, in this situation, the use of social media has also a negative side. Thus, the nature of networking websites is distractive and time-consuming. An interactive and bright interface, entertaining content, and availability of exciting information results in the situation when people spend so much time scrolling the news feed or playing virtual games. Also, it distracts users from doing their work or studying. As a result, people start neglecting other activities, such as reading books, communicating with people in real life, or working out.
Neglecting other activities except for spending time on social media is not beneficial for humans. For instance, the reduction of physical training may bring a negative impact on the mental health of people. Thus, physical activity helps individuals with high trait anxiety to overcome their mental problems and improve psychological well-being (Hegberg and Tone 6). On the contrary, neglecting exercises and spending much time on social media results in the deterioration of the psychological appearance of human beings. Therefore, there is a strong relationship between high trait anxiety and physical training.
As was mentioned above, young people are the most vulnerable to the negative impact of social media. The development of virtual communication between teenagers results in the inability of youth to communicate effectively in real life. Having been accustomed to talking on social networking websites from the time of their childhood, young people get scared to socialize in real life and hesitate to start conversations. As a result, they fail to develop communication skills, build social relationships, and make new friends, which leads to loneliness and isolation. It would be fair to notice, however, that there are various social groups in the networking websites, where representatives of minority groups can find support, which is especially significant for teenagers. For instance, there are virtual communities for LGBT people or black people who face racism and inequality. The most significant rule that should be applied is to control the time spent on social media to avoid issues with mental health.
Another negative impact of social media on mental health is people’s addiction to using networking websites. Thus, there are numerous aversive consequences of using social media related to mental health, including insecurity, cyberbullying, social anxiety, distraction, fatigue and stress, emotion suppression, and peer pressure. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict what problem stated in the list a person who is addicted to social media would face. Addiction is one of the most significant issues, as it is difficult to get rid of it. It is especially true when it comes to teenagers who tend to spend much time in front of computers and other digital devices. Therefore, parents must teach their kids from the time of their childhood that excessive use of social media may bring negative consequences. It is fair to notice, however, that while numerous mental health issues may be caused by social media, it is not necessary to stop using it. Instead, there is a need to implement certain measures to prevent the negative impact of networking websites on people’s health.
Various measures can help people to reduce the aversive effect of social media. Thus, to prevent the impact of popular networking websites on people’s self-esteem, some companies started implementing certain changes. Thus, Facebook and Instagram try to implement test programs that reveal only a limited quantity of likes under users’ posts. This measure is supposed to reduce the level of competition and stop envy among people, which is initiated by a large number of likes.
One more measure that aims to reduce the negative impact of using social media is protection from the exposure of blue light, which is produced by digital devices. Some researchers conduct experiments to find out ways to reduce the production of blue light. Thus, Lisa Ostrin, a researcher, revealed that wearing blocking glasses several hours before bedtime had a positive impact and promoted high-quality sleep (Headline Science par.8). Therefore, it is possible to improve the psychological well-being of people using blocking glasses before sleeping. In addition, it could be beneficial to use screen protectors for digital devices. Also, many applications automatically adjust the colors of interfaces and eliminate aversive light effects.
Therefore, there are many ways to improve the situation and avoid psychological issues caused by social media. However, it is necessary to notice that neither screen protectors nor new policies of social media companies can help a person who is addicted to using virtual networking. That is why self-control remains to be the primary tool for dealing with the overuse of networking websites. Thus, people must control the amount of time they use social media. Even though it might be challenging, it is needed for parents to be especially attentive when it comes to utilizing social media by their children.
It can be concluded that even though using social media has some advantages, its excessive use affects the psychological well-being of humans negatively. The academic research projects served as evidence that proved the argument. Thus, it was revealed that the overuse of social media results in low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other psychological issues. At the end of the paper, various ways and recommendations that help to deal with mental issues caused by social media are included. However, it is necessary to mention that the best way to reduce its negative impact is self-control.
Headline Science. “Device Light Disturbs Sleep.” Science Teacher, vol. 84, no. 7, 2017, pp. 18–21.
Jan, Muqaddas, et al. “Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem.” European Scientific Journal, vol. 13, no. 23, 2017, pp. 329-341.
Radtke, K., et al. “Nursing Knowledge of Physiological and Psychological Outcomes Related to Patient Sleep Deprivation in the Acute Care Setting.” MEDSURG Nursing, vol. 23, no. 3, 2014, pp. 178–184.