|The Intersection of Mental Health and Social Media: Effects and Addiction

The Intersection of Mental Health and Social Media: Effects and Addiction

The advent of social media platforms in the late 2000s was a huge game changer when it came to the virtual world in India. Social media platforms would covert arduous time-consuming tasks into mere few clicks. It was a huge revolution in the field of technology. However, over the years, the world of social media surfaced its ugly head. The continuous scrolling led to addiction, further leading to a plethora of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and stress, and even leading to a rise in suicides.

 

The impact of social media on mental health has always been a topic that is discussed in the medical community. However, the changing dynamics of the world have made it difficult to control the impact of social media on mental health. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the mental health of many people with the lockdown and isolation. It is very important to peel the onion layers and understand how social media triggers the rise of mental health issues.

 

How does Social Media affect Mental Health?

Social media has become a primary source of information, knowledge, learning, communication, and interaction. It has also been a source of income for many people. Therefore, social media has become a norm in people’s lives. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, India has the second-highest number of Internet users after China. According to UN data, 564 million people use the Internet in India.

Social media, if used in the right way, can be extremely beneficial. However, it can also be a double-edged sword and cause horrendous consequences. There is a thin line separating social media from being beneficial to harmful. Sadly, the youth and adolescents are unable to differentiate and often transcend into the latter.

The Harmful Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Depression and anxiety

One of the most significant negative effects of social media on mental health is that people tend to compare their lives with the curated and often idealized versions of others' lives they encounter online. This can result in feelings of inadequacy, envy, and diminished self-esteem, ultimately leading to depression. Continuous exposure to images portraying idealized beauty standards and body types can also have adverse effects on body image, particularly among young individuals. This can result in body dissatisfaction and may even contribute to the development of eating disorders.

Depression and Anxiety

One of the most significant negative effects of social media on mental health is that people tend to compare their lives with the curated and often idealized versions of others' lives they encounter online. This can result in feelings of inadequacy, envy, and diminished self-esteem, ultimately leading to depression. Continuous exposure to images portraying idealized beauty standards and body types can also have adverse effects on body image, particularly among young individuals. This can result in body dissatisfaction and may even contribute to the development of eating disorders.

Cyberbullying

Social media platforms often serve as a breeding ground for cyberbullying, and this can exert severe repercussions on an individual's mental health. Cyberbullying victims frequently contend with heightened levels of anxiety, depression, and increased feelings of isolation. Additionally, worries regarding privacy, data breaches, and the misuse of personal information within these platforms can contribute to elevated stress and anxiety levels.

Cyberbullying

Social media platforms often serve as a breeding ground for cyberbullying, and this can exert severe repercussions on an individual's mental health. Cyberbullying victims frequently contend with heightened levels of anxiety, depression, and increased feelings of isolation. Additionally, worries regarding privacy, data breaches, and the misuse of personal information within these platforms can contribute to elevated stress and anxiety levels

Addiction

Excessive social media usage can induce addiction-like behaviors, prompting individuals to feel an incessant need to check their accounts regularly. They find themselves continuously scrolling through feeds, seeking validation through likes and comments. This addiction can disrupt daily life, sleep patterns, and overall well-being. On average, people spend approximately 2.4 hours per day on social media. It is up to 27 hours per week for adolescents.

Addiction

Excessive social media usage can induce addiction-like behaviors, prompting individuals to feel an incessant need to check their accounts regularly. They find themselves continuously scrolling through feeds, seeking validation through likes and comments. This addiction can disrupt daily life, sleep patterns, and overall well-being. On average, people spend approximately 2.4 hours per day on social media. It is up to 27 hours per week for adolescents.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Social media frequently highlights people's exciting and joyful moments, instilling fear of missing out on these experiences. This fear can give rise to anxiety and feelings of inadequacy among individuals

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Social media frequently highlights people's exciting and joyful moments, instilling fear of missing out on these experiences. This fear can give rise to anxiety and feelings of inadequacy among individuals.

Sleep Disturbances/Insomnia

Late-night use of social media can disrupt sleep patterns, as the blue light emitted by screens interferes with the body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Poor sleep quality is linked to a range of mental health issues. Most electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers emit blue light. Blue light exposure in the evening can interfere with the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, as it suppresses the production of Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Scrolling through social media right before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.

Sleep Disturbances/Insomnia

Late-night use of social media can disrupt sleep patterns, as the blue light emitted by screens interferes with the body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Poor sleep quality is linked to a range of mental health issues. Most electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers emit blue light. Blue light exposure in the evening can interfere with the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, as it suppresses the production of Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Scrolling through social media right before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.

Conclusion

Social media can be a boon if used optimally. It serves as an excellent source for acquiring education, acts as a gateway to entrepreneurship, and has created career opportunities for both entry-level and senior-level employees. Moreover, it facilitates bridging geographical gaps and connecting with people and relatives abroad. Therefore, it is up to the individual to use it to its full potential. To address the excessive use of social media, one can follow the following –

  • Limit screen time and take regular breaks from social media.
  • Consult a mental health professional if you’re facing mental health challenges
  • Educate themselves about online safety and privacy.
  • Set time limits and establish boundaries for social media.
  • Curate your feed and follow accounts that promote positivity.
  • Use night mode or blue light filters.

By adopting these strategies, individuals can harness the benefits of social media while mitigating its potential drawbacks.

Author: Dr Amey Patil

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