Yesterday evening, many users of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram had to twiddle and twaddle their thumbs because their favourite social media apps were down.
The resulting hullabaloo was a sight for sore eyes for those people who have been decrying the horrible effects of prolonged use of social media in people.
While social media has many positives, it still has caused numerous issues among children and young adults ( the demographic that most of these apps heavily target).
Let us take a look at some of the effects that social media can have on our mental health. They are below;
That social media is addictive is agreed upon by a majority of experts. A study from Nottingham Trent University concluded that “it may be plausible to speak specifically of ‘Facebook Addiction Disorder’…because addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be present in some people who use [social networks] excessively.”
A study from Swansea University found that people experienced the psychological symptoms of withdrawal when they stopped using (this went for all internet use, not just social media). “We have known for some time that people who are over-dependent on digital devices report feelings of anxiety when they are stopped from using them, but now we can see that these psychological effects are accompanied by actual physiological changes.”
It triggers more sadness, less well-being
Funny thing is that the more people use social media, the less happy we seem to be. A study that focused on Facebook users stated that they had less moment-to-moment happiness and less life satisfaction—the more people used Facebook in a day,.
“On the surface,” the authors write, “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive 'offline' social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.”
In fact, another study found that social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. It turned out that the more time people spent on social media sites, the more socially isolated they perceived themselves to be.
It increases people comparing their lives with others and is mentally unhealthy
One study compared how social media users compared themselves to others' posts, in “upward” or “downward” directions—that is, feeling that we’re either better or worse off than our friends.
The conclusion was that both types of comparisons made people feel worse.
It can lead to jealousy—and a vicious cycle
Numerous studies have showed that many social media users speak of jealousy when seeing other people’s posts. One particluar study noted that,
“This magnitude of envy incidents taking place on FB alone is astounding, providing evidence that FB offers a breeding ground for invidious feelings."
People get caught up in the delusion of thinking it will help
Another issue that affects social media users is that they keep going back to it thinking that it will help them in the long run. One study showed that social media users almost always felt worse after using it, compared to people engaging in other activities.
More friends on social media doesn’t mean you’re more social
One particular study found that more friends on social media doesn’t necessarily correlate to having a better social life. It also found that spending virtual time with friends online doesn't have the therapeutic effect that time with real friends has.