Like, comment, share, tweet, snap. It is all part of the role of that 45% of adolescents plays that have one or more social media accounts. However, they maybe shouldn’t be using them as often as they are due to the influences they may have. Social media has negative effects on the mental health of adolescents in the United States because it has led to not only an increase in depression rates but also suicidal risk factors and suicidal death rates. Constantly checking the sites and seeing what their friends are up to on a day-to-day basis can be damaging to their mental health.
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Depression is one of the mental health disorders associated with social media. This may happen if over time one is consistently talked down to, bullied online, or too much time is spent on their phone in general. Think about how much time is spent on phones and more specifically, on social networking sites, how isn’t everyone depressed? According to Garcia-Navarro, a journalist for National Public Radio, NPR, a study found that around the time that smartphones and social media became popular, 2012, there was a substantial rise in depression symptoms and rates. Garcia-Navarro also mentioned that the amount of time spent looking at the screen, whether it be on Facebook, Instagram, etc., the depression rates are increasing after every minute of use. Depression related to social media has gotten to be so common that psychologists have come up with a name for its diagnosis. Within the past couple of years, a new phenomenon has been created called “Facebook Depression” that occurs when adolescents spend a great deal of time on not only Facebook but any social media networking site and experience the beginning signs of depression. Not only is depression a negative effect of social media, but an increase in suicidal risk factors and deaths has been observed.
Social media, no matter the size, includes some sort of suicidal risk factor that may even lead to suicide. Some specific and serious factors include cyberbullying and cyber harassment. These words refer to when an adolescent is intentionally and repeatedly targeted by another or a group of others in the form of humiliation or threats over the internet. An adolescent that goes through a situation like this will have elevated feelings of isolation, hatred, hopelessness, and other stressors that can influence suicidal thoughts. As stated earlier, screen time can lead to depression but excessive usage can even lead to suicide. A journalist at NPR found in a recent study, ‘At two hours a day, there was only a slightly elevated risk. And then three hours a day and beyond is where you saw the more pronounced increase in those who had at least one suicide risk factor.’ When adolescents are using social media, the last thing that they’re going to realize is that it is hurting their mental health to the extreme of suicide, but it is possible. Like with most things, there may be a beneficial side to consider with social media.
Some people may say that social media has positive effects on mental health. There are many adolescents who go to the media to help comfort loneliness or just for somebody to talk to. In a study done by Pew Research Center in March-April of 2018, 40% of teens said the main reason they use social media is to connect with family and friends, another 16% said it makes it easier to read and view the news and find information. However, in the same study, 27% said they see more bullying and rumors than anything and another 17% said it is harming their relationships and personal contact with others. Therefore, the negatives in this survey seem to be more of a shocker, especially coming from 14-15 year-olds.
The amount of people that use social media has grown to an outrageous number within the last couple of years, especially in the younger ages. Thinking twice about what one wants to say and limiting how much time is spent on social media can benefit one’s mental health a great deal in the long run. Spending no more than 2 hours scrolling on a networking site and the other hours of the day doing things that improve mental health such as connecting with friends and family outside of the screen can be a start. Overall, one will be happier if they were able to just put the phone down.
Negative Effects of Social Media on Mental Health. (2021, Oct 07).
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