Social Media: Does it AFFECT our mental health?

Social media, is it really social?

According to “Social Media Statistics Australia” in August of 2017, 17 million users are active on Facebook in Australia, there are 5 million active Instagram users as well as 4 million active daily Snapchat users to name but just a few. Social media has taken over control of most individuals and I am no exception. Daily checks of our social media accounts have become religious actions, with the constant observation of our “like” and “follow” sections becoming our sole vision.

In this article, I am not shaming the use of social media but rather I am observing the effect of its influence over our lives; both positive and negative. I find the concept of social media to be great as it allows the communication of individuals from all over the globe. Through this, we can exchange ideas and further our knowledge and ideas, as well as be pushed out of our comfort zone through the knowledge of differing beliefs and concepts to our own.

The use of my blog, klhwriting, is a prime example of this point. I research articles and points to further my understanding of various topics and then write my own posts in regards to topics I feel strongly about, communicating those concepts with my readers. Individuals then comment and like the post, furthering the reach of the post and continuing this cycle; thus, expanding the audience that reads my posts.

This is true for other social media influencers who have much larger followings than myself, influencing other individuals with their work either directly or indirectly. Although sometimes not intentional, the impact of social media stars have over their fanbase can be astounding.

Bodily image perception is a point that comes to my mind immediately. Through observation of their favorite stars, individuals may feel that in order to fit the “conventional look of attractiveness” they must look like their stars. What they may not understand that these stars have undergone various photo shoots to capture the best photos, perhaps out of hundreds. The use of Adobe Photoshop and filters on the photos are also common use.

The Conversation states, “The greater the effort and concern around creating and posting the most attractive selfies, the greater the body image concerns.”

They continue further by saying, “People can become trapped in a vicious world. They anxiously await “likes” and feedback from others, then feel wounded and disappointed if the desired response is not forthcoming. They then feel even more distressed and anxious about their appearance.”

This is a major concern that is infiltrating the youth of today, but also the majority of society. The desire for acceptance and/or approval of one’s self-worth becomes evident.

The Sydney Morning Herald conducted a study in which 150 undergraduate students conducted surveys 5 times a day for 5 days. ” For each survey, they reported if they had compared their appearance with someone else’s, and whether they made that comparison after looking at social media, traditional media or in person. They also reported whether they thought the person looked better, the same or worse than them. They then rated their body image, mood and thoughts of dieting and exercising.”

The report also states that “Women reported being in the worst mood after social media comparisons relative to other comparisons. When women made social media comparisons, they also reported being unhappier with their appearance and more motivated to start unhealthy weight-loss activities, like going on a diet, than when they made comparisons in person.”

Similar results were also reported for men and individuals of other ages.

 

Capture1
Instagram, the social media giant that allows users to share pictures to all their followers.

 

The Guardian furthers this point with their own article which inspects the impact that social media has upon the viewers. It is brought forth that celebrities as well as friends, can have an impact on the mental wellbeing of individuals due to the “Airbrushed” effects on pictures of individuals.

“Around 70% of women aged 18 to 35 regularly edit their images before posting them – as do 50% of men in the same age group.” This data was collected by the Renfrew Center Foundation, an organisation that focuses on the impacts of eating disorders.

As shown by these statistics it becomes evident that social media can have a detrimental effect on the mental health of individuals and action must be done to combat the effects it has. However, I do endorse the positive effects of social media as well, due to being an avid user, especially of YouTube which allows me to view large selections of informing and entertaining videos.

In the meantime, I can just strongly recommend for users of social media to understand the impact that social media CAN have and find their own ways to combat this. This can be done through the removal of individuals who impact your mental wellbeing negatively as well as limit the amount of time you spend on social media each day.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. yazzeus says:

    Good stuff, Kyle. The relationship between social media and mental health is very interesting and quite overlooked.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kyle Hughes says:

      Thank you Alyazya! Yes it is and I needed to speak about it

      Liked by 1 person

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