Social Networking and the Aftereffects

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With the current age of technology and the usage of several applications, social media has become part of the everyday routine for the majority of the world's population, often being the cause for many personal issues one may deal with. According to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world, seven in ten Americans use social media. The institution also recorded that just 5% of American adults used social networking sites back in 2005, but by 2018, it was recorded that 69% of the public engages in social media platforms; this information displays the impact social media has on American society, let alone its impact on the world's population usage of social networking sites (Social Media Fact Sheet). By reviewing ten different peer-reviewed articles regarding the topic of social media, I will identify, describe, and discuss the effects correlated with the usage of social media in regards to adolescence.

Adolescence is a developmental stage in which peer influence tends to become more influential as parental influence decreases. Despite the fact that social media holds many negative effects, I will also discuss the positive effects social media provides its users. Although there is a broad spectrum of outcomes associated with social media usage, I divided its aftereffects into four different themes based on the findings, which include: self-esteem, mental state, development, and socialization. To better understand the ideology that is social media, I will provide the history behind the concept. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, social media is defined as forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. However, in regards to the concept behind social and media as separate entities, social media can be defined as a form of communication through different media across great distances, such as letters.

The first form of written delivery dates back to 550 B.C, but with the creation of the telegraph in 1792, communication was revolutionized as it allowed for long distance communication by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between stations (McFadden). With the creation of the telephone and radio in the 1800s, the distance for communication was shorter and faster. It was not until 1966, that electronic mailing was established and helped create the initial stages of what the general public defines as social media (McFadden). The modern Internet, otherwise known as the World Wide Web, was invented in 1990 and it is the more recognizable form that we are familiar with today. In 1997, the first official social media site was enabled; allowed users to upload profile pictures and connect with others (McFadden). The social media sites most commonly used today, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, were established in the mid-2000s. Although social media has been present since 550 B.C., the electronic era of social media has just begun with its peak barely approaching. Literature Review Social Media on Self-Esteem Self-esteem is the confidence one holds about their own worth and abilities.

In adolescence, one's self-respect is influenced by many factors, their appearance on social networking sites included. As social media is becoming more vital in people's lives, the idea that social media addiction is a key factor in the increases and decreases in one's self-esteem is becoming more apparent. Sahin and Kumcagiz (2017), professors of Gazi University, investigated the relationship between social media addiction, self-esteem, and narcissism by collecting data from 520 students using the Social Media Addiction scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the Narcissistic personality Inventory. Sahin and Kumcagiz (2017) concluded that there was a statistically significant negative relationship between social media addiction and self-esteem and a significant positive relationship between social media addiction and narcissism (p.2139). Meaning that as the usage of social media increases, self-esteem decreases and narcissism increases. There are several factors that indicate the reasoning as to why constant social media usage can result in lowered self-esteem.

The pressure to appear near perfect online can be an influence on adolescent's self-esteem. Many view such posts as inspiration, but because some posts are often unattainable, they tend to result in people feeling unaccomplished whenever the goal is not reached. From personal reflection, seeing Instagram models or noticing the accomplishments my peers achieved through social media does hold some effect on how I view my own appearance and achievements. Another factor is the need for likes, the amount of likes a post receives is associated with the amount of attention and acceptance the post holds. As social media can be used as a method to receive attention, the minimal amount of likes the user receives can be perceived as a reflection of their own self-worth. In worst-case scenarios, users may experience forms of cyber-bullying that hold weight on their own perception of their self-worth, but also their mental state, which will be discussed in the next theme. Despite the negative consequences of social media use on one's self-esteem, a prominent advantage of social media is the opportunity to promote oneself (Sahin & Kumcagiz, 2017, p.2138). With promoting oneself, the positive feedback an adolescent may receive from their post can enhance their self-esteem, as mentioned by Guinta and John (2018, p.198).

In their academic journal, they reviewed both the positive and negative consequences of social media use and discussed the role of pediatric nurses in mitigating negative effects and mobilizing use for positive effects. Guinta and John later discuss the finding that the depth of engagement is associated with an increase in self-esteem, meaning that the increase is defined by praise and appreciation on the user's post or overall profile. Regarding the amount of likes one receives, the higher the amount can also be a factor in a user's increased self-esteem. Overall, Peer feedback, whether positive or negative, tends to be the main theme as it plays an influential role in how adolescents view themselves. Social Media on Mental State It is becoming more apparent that the excessive use of social media influences mental health, as more people begin to suffer from depression and anxiety due to addictive use, an evocation of jealousy, and cyber-bullying. Ahmad, Hussain, & Munir (2018), researchers of the Pakistan Journal of Medical Research, helped uncover the correlation between social media and depression by measuring 200 Facebook and Twitter users from a university through two research instruments, a questionnaire and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and finding that the students who spent more time on social media were found depressed.

More specifically, the students who spent more time on social media for searching health information and playing games were more depressed than those who used social media for a chat with friends and family (Ahmad, Hussain, & Munir, 2018, p.77). Based on these findings, I can agree that one of the factors correlated with depression is searching health information, mainly because I often find myself browsing websites based on the symptoms I am experiencing and almost always receive the result that I have a life-threatening condition, which causes stress levels to increase and leave my mental state decreased, much like other users may experience. The researchers of the American Journal of Health Behavior, Shensa, Sidani, Dew, Escobar-Viera, & Primack (2018), also measured the relationship between social media usage and depression by using respective 4-item Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS) scales and found that cluster analysis yielded a cluster solution. Participants who were characterized as wired and connected increased the odds of elevated depression and anxiety symptoms. According to Shensa, Sidani, Dew, Escobar-Viera, & Primack (2018), wired individuals may routinely engage in attention-seeking behaviors… which may lead to lead to depression if the individual does not receive the desired feedback from his or her social media audience (p.124).

Similar to the effects on self-esteem, when users do not receive the expected and wanted outcome from something they posted online, the feeling of unworthiness tends to lead to depression as the negative consequences holds power on one's mental stability, especially in terms of addictive use as users have a higher emotional connection to social media. As anxiety is one of the many aftereffects associated with social media usage and mental health, Docu (2018), a researcher of the Romanian Journal of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy & Hypnosis, conducted an experiment aimed to understand the patterns and the neurophysiological fundamentals of social behavior and human connectedness, in relation to the increased engagement in electronic communication by Millennials. Millenials are the most anxious generation… one particularity of anxiety among Millenials is the fear of missing out (FOMO)… which can stimulate individuals to compare their own lives with facts they've read in online posts and observations they've made through images on social media sites, making them feel less satisfied with their life and behavior which can also evoke jealousy based on the comparisons made (Docu, 2018, p.8-11).

With the desire to continually stay connected, also characterized as FOMO, it can contribute to hyper-vigilant social media surveillance associated with addictive use and which also contributes to symptoms of anxiety. In High School, I formed a habit of looking at the profile and the likes of my then partner, almost in a way to check in on him without having to ask him personally. This habit became a routine, as I would initially check on the profile before I continued scrolling through the application's feed. Based on the Docu's findings, I can confirm this old habit to be a form of anxiety that was initiated through social media usage. In terms of cyber-bullying, social networking sites can cause users to become depressed and anxious when visiting such platforms. Standard methods of cyber-bullying are name-calling or insults, the spreading of rumors, and the distribution of unauthorized pictures (Guinta & Rita, 2018, p.197). Victims of cyber-bullying experience a lack of acceptance from their peers, which results in them feeling lonely and isolated. The social withdrawal can lead to low self-esteem, as previously stated, and depression, as the bullying seems inescapable and can leave the victim feeling unsafe always.

Social Media on Development

The popularity of communication technologies, including social networking sites, has grown exponentially, especially among adolescents, and the effects on psychological and cognitive development are more apparent as usage increases. Cyr, Berman, & Smith (2015), researchers of the Child & Youth Care Forum, helped determine if technology usage and preference for using communication technology in social situations are related to adolescent development in regard to peer relationships, identity development, and psychological adjustment. Cyr, Berman, & Smith (2015), mentioned that communication technology may not be interfering with identity development process per se, but it might be exacerbating the level of anxiety and distress associated with the process… similarly, communication technology is not interfering in the development of relationships, but it does seem to be related to a decrease in the quality of peer relationships (p.89). This effect on socialization will also be discussed in the next theme. Nonetheless, with several adolescents having constant and easy access to social networking sites, the amount of anxiety and depression a user may receive from social media usage can affect their identity development as they are hindered to excel in their own personal growth as they are affected by such symptoms.

As the adolescent brain changes throughout the adolescent's years, it is apparent that cognitive development is accompanied by changes in the structure and function of the adolescent brain, as supported through several studies. Shepherd, Parker, & Steiner (2015), researchers of the International Journal of Arts & Sciences, discussed the overuse of social media using mobile devices and other technology, and its potential effect on psychological symptoms and brain development. Psychologists and psychiatrists have found that a lack of good enough attachment can result in difficulties in developing neural pathways and healthy neurotransmitter functioning, especially in the limbic system (the emotional brain) and in the pre-frontal cortex (the intellectual brain). This can result in anxiety, depression, several types of personality disorders and difficulty with intimate relationships (Shepherd, Parker, & Steiner, 2015, p.592). Since the adolescent neural symptoms are still underdeveloped, younger people are more prone to feeling anxious and depressed due to social media interactions, as negative interactions can affect their development on the structure of emotional processing.

Social Media on Socialization

With social networks influencing the lives of individuals, there are its advantages, but also several disadvantages, including the effect on social life. Mohammad et al. (2017) aimed to determine the impact social media has on academic performance and social relationships, as well as factors associated with social media and pattern of using social media. By testing 205 male students and 250 female students and concluded that social media had both positive and negative effects on social relations. Their findings regarding the positive effects social media has on socialization found that 47.9% felt close to those they communicate with on social media, which can be supported by the ideology behind social media as its purpose is to connect people through communities, as previously mentioned, therefore allowing users to feel connected to others, especially when finding friends with similar interests. From personal experience, I found a group of friends that I would not have previously met if it were not for our shared interests and continuous interactions through social media. Mohammad et al. (2017), also discusses that there were 45.1% reporting that their time speaking with a friend on social media was more than that of face to face… most of the students (39.6%) did not tend to meet their friends on social media even if they had a good relationship (p.2916).

This result is identified as online-disclosure, mentioned by Do??an (2016), as a way students keep disclosing themselves to learn more information about others, stay away from meeting new people with face to face communication and so keeping the tensions to a minimum level (p.223). Scott, Valley, & Simecka (2017), researchers of the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, provide a comprehensive look at society's use of technology, and also mentions that the negative consequences from technology overuse impact an individual behaviorally, affectively, and cognitively; counseling interventions and treatment options are discussed as methods to reduce the effects of technology abuse and isolation from the real world and to help people find a balance in connectivity. According to Scott, Valley, & Simecka (2017), people are struggling to manage their internet use, and that compulsive use often creates personal, family, or social impairment and/or distress… counselors report growing numbers of teens and young adults presenting with poor social skills, anxiety, ADHD, and even depression. (p.606-608). Excessive social media use is more prevalent in younger generations, which results in the next generation of adults to be more isolated due to the minimal social skills that they failed to acquire through their adolescence as they there impacted by their overuse on such platforms.

The main findings found from each article is that there are relationships between social media and self-esteem, mental state, development, and socialization, whether it is an advantage or disadvantage associated with social media and a certain topic addressed previously. Before reviewing the literature, my own inquiries were made for each topic and I found that a few findings related to my own questions. With social media on self-esteem, I questioned if social networking sites would increase self-esteem based on the amount of praise or appreciation one may receive and decrease if one makes comparisons between themselves and another. These inquiries were answered through the literature, along with different reasons for an increase or decrease in self-esteem. The inquiry made about social media and mental state was answered as cyber-bullying is a cause for someone's depression and anxiety, however, I did not question how other social media interactions could also be a cause for depression and anxiety, for example, not receiving the desired amount of feedback on social platforms could also result in depression.

With social media and development, the idea of constantly using social networks could cause adolescent development to remain stagnant or suppress was questioned and with the literature regarding the topic, it was addressed that development can be interfered by social media. Although I questioned the fact that social skills would not be apparent with people who overuse social media under the topic of social media and socialization, there is still a sense of socialization as they are interacting with people online, but the social ability to be involved in face-to-face communication was affected, as mentioned in the literature. Overall, as long as social media is being overused, there will be aftereffects, whether it is correlated with self-esteem, mental stability, development or socialization. In order to rectify such effects, awareness raising training can be enacted to inform both adolescent users and adults about how to prevent the negative consequences, but still promote the positive aspects of regulated social media usage.

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Social Networking and the Aftereffects. (2020, Feb 27). Retrieved April 20, 2024 , from

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