Social media is the platform for communication or to share data via smartphones and computers. In today’s world it has become a crucial part of our life. It has influenced the lives of people in many ways with its advance in technology and easy access to internet. Due to the increasing popularity of the internet, social media has made its way into the life of every individual which cannot be denied. Every person uses it be for the purpose of texting, video calling or sharing information. However, the excessive exposure has created a harmful impact on people especially young adults. The people of today’s generation devote their time into social networking and are addicted to it which in-turn has compromised their health and well-being. There are several factors which cause a negative impact such as young adults are more concerned about their social image rather than portraying the real side. They spend excessive time of their day on social media and compromise on sleep watching videos, Netflix etc. Also, while on social media and binge watching movies, they tend to overeat for hours and remain in bed which leads to a sedentary lifestyle and causes eating disorders. Concerns of social media addiction where the mental and psychological health has been affected. Hence, we need to consider the harmful effects by creating awareness to improve the health and lifestyle of people especially young adults.
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Nowadays there are multiple websites and apps for social communication on the internet and thousands of apps are created daily for every purpose. Social media is currently the major source of communication worldwide since it allows to share concepts and news within seconds over the internet. In the previous couple of years social media has outgrown enormously at an awfully fast rate and has influenced voluminous users round the world. Majority of the young adults spend hours daily on social media sites waiting for updates and likes of images posted, gaining popularity and business online, making new contacts and friends, sharing personal information. Hence, their life has become more interesting indoors than outdoors.
One of the major sites of social media is Facebook. It was launched in 2004 and has had the maximum accounts since then (Facebook by the numbers). With the update of smartphones, the number of people joining social networking sites has only been increasing. Other platforms such as Instagram and Twitter are also very popular. In today’s world there are many individuals who feel that social media is a boon since these platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter have kept us connected to people throughout the world, help us share information within seconds, track updates about our loved one’s by knowing the location via social media and also send security warnings. Engaging in various forms of social media has benefited children and adolescents by improving their communication skills, social interaction and even technical skills (O’Keeffe G, March 28, 2011). However, it has destroyed human interaction and has modified modern human relationship. Many create fake social media accounts and identity over the internet to scam others. Many crimes take place with the information received from social media accounts. Fake scam calls over the internet are most common wherein the innocent people share bank account information to illegal and unauthorized scammers are end up losing loads of money within no time
“Recent polls state that 22% of teenagers log into their favorite social media site for more than 10 times a day and more than half of the adolescents log onto their accounts at least once a day. 75% of teenagers currently own cell phones out of which 25% of them use it for social media and 54% for texting. Thus a huge part of this current generation’s social and emotional development is dependent on the internet and phones” (O’Keeffe G, March 28, 2011).
Young adults have a restricted ability to understand self-regulation and fall prey to peer pressure hence, end up navigating and experimenting with various social media sites. There are other issues such as internet addiction and sleep deprivation which has taken a toll on the health of young adults (O’Keeffe G, March 28, 2011).
“Adolescence is a period of vulnerability for the development of depression” (McLaughlin K.A, 2015).
About 10–20% of children and adolescents worldwide experience mental health problems (WHO, 2017). Increasing social media use is one important factor affecting adolescents’ mental health (McRae et al, 2017). It may have more adverse psychological impact on girls than on boys (McRae et al, 2017). Female adolescents with social media profile had higher levels of depressed mood and lower self-esteem as compared to ones without it (Neira and Barber, 2014).
“Body image is defined as an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours associated with his or her appearance and physical ability” (Cash T.F, 2004).
The internet is surrounded by manipulated images of online idealised “beauty” which link to self-esteem and perception of body image which relate to poor mental health (Fardouly J, 2016). Hence, those suffering from poor mental health are likely to spend longer hours on social media for sources of distraction and to avoid depression. We can conclude that the relation between use of social media and symptoms of depression can be directly influenced by poor sleep, poor self-esteem and body image and experiences of online abuse. Young adults with low self-esteem tend to idealise other characters for inspiration. They follow accounts of celebrities on social media and want to eat and dress in a similar manner. Thus social media enables the youth to access and get addicted to such unhealthy behaviour. Their life revolves around such idealistic behaviour which in-turn promotes addiction. Mental health can be influenced by all such kind of behaviours. There have been many incidents of online harassment which impact young people’s mental health by sharing of information that hamper reputations and relationships (Fahy A.E, 2016).
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Sleep is considered to be another effect of social media use (Kelly Y, 2013). Nowadays it is very common behaviour for young adults to sleep with their phones (Lemola S). The most common habit is to access social networking sites and text at night before going to sleep. Social media is the first thing that the youth access once they wake up in the morning and the last thing before going to bed. Use of social media affects sleep amongst young adults in many ways like excess time on social networking sites leads to reduced sleep duration and the fear of missing out along with regular incoming alerts on phone at night causes sleep deprivation (Woods H.C, 2016). There has been an impact of screen exposure before bedtime on the production of melatonin and on the Circadian rhythm (Cain N, 2010). Based on the levels of anxiety and stress caused from online harassment can affect the quality and quantity of sleep. It is likely for majority young adults to develop low self-esteem (Orth U, 2015) which is an effect based on receiving negative feedback and negative social comparisons (Valkenburg P.M, 2017) (Frison E, 2006).
There is a strong relation between use of social media and eating disorders (Fardouly J, 2015). Individuals who spent most of their time on social media had a 2.2 times greater risk of eating disorders and issues about body image. The various disorders include anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and other clinical mental health issues (Nannola R, May 20, 2016). “It could be that young adults who use more social media are exposed to more images and messages that encourage development of disordered eating” (Primack B. A, Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences). Studies of Facebook suggests that comparing one’s self to others is associated with eating disorder and body dissatisfaction in college women (Fardouly J, 2015). Also, keen users of social media follow an inactive lifestyle thus causing health related disorders such as obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and high blood pressure.
Social media is an interesting way to pass time, communicate and is the easiest way to receive information from all around the world although, has created numerous problems since it remains unregulated and does not follow any rules. Content such as verbal abusive language, crimes, violence, nudism and sexual content display on social media can cause a negative impact leading to mental breakdown especially among young adults. Also, it creates addiction and uncontrolled obsession. This obsession in turn takes majority time of their day being unproductive creating an impact on their outcome and performance. People posts pictures and comments on social media just to get numerous likes which is also regarded as an obsession.
Even though social media has its benefits, we cannot ignore the negative impact it has created especially on the youth. Addiction to social media and its effects leading to depression, sleep disorders and eating disorders cannot be ignored. The current generation wants everything at their fingertips. With increasing technology, the life of people gets easier and less active. We benefit from social media in many ways however, the harmful effects of its use is equally creating an impact especially among youngsters. Measures to use social media wisely should be taken. One should keep track of how many hours they spend on social networking sites. Rules and regulation for the safety of users should be implicated. Creating awareness about the impact of social media among the youth will help reduce its negative effects in society.
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