Why social media is more damaging than you think

Image: Metaphysics Speaks

Adolescents and young adults are more dependent on their phones than ever before. Phones are no longer just a mode of communication; they have become an accessory which is always attached to us.

Social media in particular is highly addictive with ‘91% of 16-24 year-olds in the UK using the internet and other social networking sites regularly’ according to BBC News reports. Unfortunately, this means there is no escape for those who experience negative feelings after using social media. In 2017 Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, was rated the ‘worst social media platform when it comes to young people’s mental health’ including anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying, body image and ‘fear of missing out’.

Featuring on Instagram are photos of people who have perfectly curated their photos to fit a ‘perfect’ ideal. Online you can see someone who looks ‘flawless’ with a body you have always idealised. It is easy to judge someone and think they have it all and are happy within themselves. Unconsciously, some Instagrammers reproduce unrealistic beauty standards by uploading pictures of themselves with extensive photo-shopping and retouching. In reality, these influencers are themselves seeking perfection and validation by touching up their features to fit a certain ideal and be ‘liked’. Is it right that these influencers are selling us an altered image of themselves and their lives for our ‘likes’? Studies have shown the amount of ‘likes’ can affect your self-esteem either positively or negatively. Are we, as followers, therefore less happy with our own lives because we can never aspire to these photo-shopped images?

Girls are more susceptible to the negative effects of social media

Girls tend to spend about double the time on social media as boys and are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, poor body image and lack of sleep. In the Millennium Cohort Study, nearly 40% of girls who spent more than five hours a day on social media displayed symptoms of depression, compared to around 14% of boys.

Limiting your social media usage can lower symptoms of depression

Social media is known for connecting people and even instigating new friendships and relationships. Social media users in the Millennium Cohort Study who limited their social media usage to 1-3 hours per day exhibited half the symptoms of depression.

 

Isn’t it time we started living in the present and enjoy our own lives rather than spending countless hours looking at someone else’s life?

 

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