Human beings are naturally social. We interact with one another every single day in many different ways. Current day, one of the most common ways we interact with one another is on social media. Each year that goes by the number of individuals using social media increases. The number of social media users worldwide in 2019 was 3.484 billion, up 9% from 2018. The numbers increased dramatically during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, the number of social media users jumped to 4.5 billion and it increases everyday.
Along with the increasing number of social media users, the number of individuals suffering from mental health issues is also increasing. Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which people understand their abilities, solve everyday life problems, work well, and make a significant contribution to the lives of their communities. Its very interesting to think about how and why social media can effect an individuals mental state so greatly. The Displaced Behavior Theory may help explain why social media shows a connection with mental health. According to the theory, people who spend more time in sedentary behaviors such as social media use have less time for face-to-face social interaction, both of which have been proven to be protective against mental disorders . For example, the more time an individual spends using social media, the less time this individual spends on their own social relationships off screen.
Believe it or not, many studies have linked the use of Facebook in young adults to increased levels of anxiety, stress and depression. I know based on my own personal experiences that life changed greatly when Facebook was introduced to my generation in Middle School. We went from going for walks around town, movie dates and phone calls to sitting in front of a computer screen for hours straight trying to figure out who posted the best profile picture that night or who received the most likes and comments on a post. Based on my own experiences, I believe this is when cyberbullying became a huge issue. Individuals, especially young teens, take into account everyone’s opinion’s and comments on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. This why mental health is associated with the use of social media. Social media can create a lot of pressure to create the stereotype that others want to see, its almost like a popularity contest.
It makes me wonder how far is too far? When will Social Media platforms truly censor cyberbullying and put a stop to the rise of mental health issues associated with using these sites. Studies have proven that these platforms cause extreme mental health problems in individuals. The individuals who are mostly affected by this range from 12-17 years of age. I believe that if we regulate the age groups allowed to join these sights it may be helpful to stop the detrimental affects these sights have on teenagers. It boggles my mind to think many teenagers would still be alive if they did not download a social media platform or they would not suffer from mental health issues. We really have to think as parents, friends and family members if downloading social media platforms is really worth it.
Can you think of any solutions to this growing problem? At what age would you let your child use social media?