There is no doubt that the advent of social media has brought it with many welcomed and some not so welcomed developments. Social media platforms have revolutionised the way we stay in touch with each other and it has become an integral part of the daily life of many.
While there are many positive roles played by social media, it has many setbacks as recent reports have said that over- or misuse of social media can have a negative impact on self-esteem and mental health, particularly among younger users.
So how and when might social media use be detrimental to our mental wellbeing?
One piece of research posited that tweeting or checking emails may be ‘harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol’. The more social media use becomes an important part of our daily routine, the more we may become too emotionally and psychologically dependent on it. Asides that, addiction to social media affects our everyday relationships, sleep hygiene, or our performance at work or in our studies.
The Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) Factor
Getting into the habit of checking social media at any available time may lead to us checking on impulse. This can lead to us never really switching off or taking time to relax. Many social media users today live in the fear of missing out on an update from a friend or celebrity causing them to constantly check their social media platforms at all available given times.
One thing that makes social media fun is that we get to have a glimpse into the lives of others and keep up to date with them. However, being in constant contact with the lives of others can lead to critical comparison leading to feelings to insecurity. We forget that most of what we see on social media platforms are carefully selected and filtered content and we aspire to unrealistic expectations.
One study has suggested that the more frequently you visit social networking sites the more likely you are to feel socially isolated. However, like many of the studies exploring the effects of social media on mental health, it is difficult to pinpoint causation.
One major headache of social networking is the issue of cyber or online bullying. 70 percent of young people and 40 percent of adults say that they have experienced some form of cyberbullying. The Royal Society for Public Health says that victims of bullying are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and even self-harm.
Anxiety and depression
One study has reported that the simultaneous use of multiple social networking sites led users to be more likely to report feelings of anxiety or depression. Those that already have difficulties with anxiety, problems such as body dysmorphic disorder and low self-esteem issues may be compounded by social media.’