Though social media is valuable for communication and education, it has a harmful effect on mental health. People who engage with social media should be more conscience about the effects certain applications can have on their mental health.
Social media is specifically designed to be highly addictive. Developers benefit from this addiction because it influences consumers to spend more time on their applications. This effectively makes developers and companies more revenue.
This addiction has a negative effect on the psyche. Separation anxiety has become a common side effect of losing cell phones. Going an extensive period of time without using social media can also cause agitation and paranoia. Because of social media’s large presence in modern society, this addiction goes largely unnoticed, and has become normalized so much that it is rarely discussed.
Spending too much time on social media is incredibly damaging to mental stability. Not only does it feed into the aforementioned addiction and anxiety, but it can also worsen mental illnesses such as depression. The reasoning for this is widely debated, but some possible causes include an increased exposure to world tragedies and a lack of exercise.
In addition, the kind of communities that form on social media are dangerous for maintaining mental health. Forums that romanticize mood and eating disorders have become disturbingly common. These communities glamorize mental disorders to the point where people may avoid overcoming their illnesses, which is extremely toxic.
Another community that has formed out of social media is the popular “beauty community,” which revolves around things like makeup, fashion, and modeling. While the large majority of this community is relatively harmless, there are certain aspects that can be harmful to mental health.
Influencers within the beauty community only show an idealized or ‘perfect’ version of themselves. This consciously and subconsciously impacts audiences to believe they should be flawless, which is an unrealistic and unhealthy goal that can produce profound insecurities. Because of this, disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and body dysmorphia have become much too common.
Social media platforms allow for cyber-bullying. Because there is no face-to-face interaction, online harassment has become a major world problem, especially in teenagers and young adults. This new form of bullying lowers self-esteem and can cause depressive thoughts or suicidal tendencies.
Another unforeseen side effect of social media usage is that people are becoming less patient. Social media apps are designed in a way that stimulates the brain’s reward system. Using these apps provides a system of high reward with very little effort. In almost all cases, this reward is also instantaneous. This makes people who use social media less willing to partake in tasks that do not have an immediate reward. This is also part of the reason why social media quickly becomes addictive.
Social media allows for companies to make money off of mental health issues such as addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and suicidal tendencies. In order to lessen the effects of these diseases, people should take mental health into consideration when downloading and signing up for social media websites.