Is Social Media Really Your Friend?

However, Is social media really your friend? Social media is the fishing net for mental health issues. Rates of anxiety and depression have increased by 70% in the past 25 years due to social media. Social media may have its benefits; however, its disadvantages are much more tragic. Social media has a key link to mental health issues such as: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, jealousy, sleep deprivation, low self-esteem and addiction – could you go a full week without checking your social media accounts? It is not the social media network itself which causes mental health problems but it is the effects which it has, such as cyberbullying and jealousy.

Social media could be compared to a tree. Once a seed is first planted it is harmless and easily dealt with. The seed is then fed by water and sunlight and eventually grows into a small tree, which again you can cope with. However, as time goes on, the persistent feeding of the plant makes the tree grow so big that it becomes that big of a problem that it can’t be removed without having a drastic effect. This links directly with social media because at first the effects are harmless and can be dealt with easily. However, the more a person is subjected to the negative effects of social media the more it becomes a problem but it can still be dealt with as by this this point it isn’t malicious enough to have life changing results. By the final stage, when the tree is fully grown it is unable to be removed without being cut down, in this regard the results on a person’s mental health are so drastic (as they have become such a big problem) that now the person has had life changing events and their mental health will be as affected as though they were swimming with lead weights.

It is not just unpopular, unknown, uncommon people which are affected by the effects of mental health issues on social media. Recently, in September 2017, the lead singer of the band Enemy, Tom Clark, left social media site twitter due to depression over repeated cyberbullying. Before he left the social media site he said “since I was 16 I have struggled with depression. Our tour is selling exceptionally well and yet all I want to do is leave music for the sake of mental wellbeing because of a few bullies.”. This shows that it is everybody which is affected by the effects which social media has on people because although he was first diagnosed with depression at 16 it has come back to haunt him whilst he has been a successful musician, in a successful band, earning lots of money and selling out on his tours, something only ever musician could wish for.

The average person has five social media accounts and spends roughly 2 hours a day browsing these networks. This is roughly fourteen hours per week, which accounts to nearly one full day of using these networks, the average day for a teenager is approximately 14 hours depending on other factors like when you get up and when you go to bed. Heavy usage can have negative impacts. It will impact the physical wellbeing which can then result on your mental affects, this is particularly relevant when it comes to sleep disturbances. Several studies have linked sleeping difficulties to the amount of time your eyes are focused on a screen. Whether it is the light of screens or the behavioural disturbances of having to check your phone midway through the night it has a significant impact on sleep which is crucial as a lack of sleep has been scientifically proven to be associated with depression. Social media was initially set up as a way to connect with friends globally but it is now used as a comparing tool. Consequently, social media is no longer used as a way to connect with friends or share memories but as a way to ‘grade’ yourself in relation to others. The nature when using social media is to share the highlights of your life more regularly than the boring events, therefore these highlights can appear to be what one person’s life looks like which can then lead to people comparing their life to the highlights of someone else’s. According to a recent survey of almost 1500 teenagers and young adults they stated that Instagram is the worst Social media network for mental health issues. Through recent experiences myself I believe that this is because on Instagram you post pictures and share memories with your followers, therefore this can lead to mental health issues as you are constantly seeing the ‘luxury’ lives which other people are living and comparing your life to theirs.

To improve lives in the 21st century I believe that getting rid of social media is the key in doing so. This would result in less people suffering with mental health disorders, resulting in less doctors being needed to treat them, which would consequent in more money being able to be spent elsewhere in the NHS improving people’s lives. Also, there would be no more having a chat with your friends and family VERSUS social media and you could spend more time doing more activities which you enjoy subsequently your physical, mental and social health would all improve. Furthermore, health aspects say that “sitting is the new smoking” and the vast amount of people sit whilst they are on checking the latest update on their social media accounts. Therefore, getting rid of social media will improve lives in the 21st century in a variety of ways. It will improve the mental and physical health of people, it will improve grades in school, it will give people more enjoyment in different things and allow them to participate in new things, it will enable them to spend more time with family and will improve another aspect that needs improving due to their being more money to spend. So, is social media really your friend?

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