Social media

Social media has hindered the spirits of today’s youth Social media has become the newest addiction for teens in today’s modern world, forget drugs and alcohol, social media is what everyone is getting hooked on these days. Social media consumes society’s everyday life and affects us in unforeseeable ways. Almost everyone with a smartphone enjoys using it and sharing posts with their friends, but unfortunately, the effects of social media on anxiety and depression are not very positive according to many studies done recently. Society no longer interacts as much as they used to in person and instead interact over social media. I have used social media in my daily life for numerous years and I think that it offers positive factors like friends being able to share posts with one another and families in different states being allowed to connect or giving people a voice on a social media platform, but I also know the dark negative impact that social media has. No one knew that social media would take the world by storm and become a worldwide phenomenon. Negativity and cruelty surround social media, a platform that was intended to make people happy, and instead has hindered the growing spirits of today’s youth. Avoiding social media or decreasing its use can help reduce the negative effects of social media on anxiety and depression because if we are not on the platforms such as Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat as much then we don’t feel left out, and we don’t care about how popular we are and thus this decreases our anxiety and depression.

Social media is split, some of society believes it is a positive because it allows us to connect with other and some believe it is a negative because it can lead to a damaged mental state linked to anxiety and depression. Increased social media is a rising concern for teens globally. Some members of the social media community do not understand the severe possibilities that can arise from excessive use of it because they are too busy scrolling through their numerous posts. The drastic impact which social media can have is a serious concern that must be addressed in today’s modern technological society and steps must be taken in order for social media to be used in a safer way. I am someone who is a member of the social media community and I go on social media daily but not for long because I am aware of the negative impact that it can have on a teenager’s mind. In the last 10 years, social media has become a juggernaut because of smartphones and today almost every teen in America has access to a smartphone which allows them access to social media. This increased access to social media has come with gloomy effects such as depression and anxiety. Social media has become the menace of society in the modern world because of all the destruction that it is capable of. In order to have a strong level of mental health, teens and college students must limit their social media because it has a more negative impact on depression and anxiety than a positive one.

Loneliness is caused by social media because attachment to social media platforms substitutes for personal relationships and leads to an increase in loneliness. In her academic journal, Elizabeth Hoge who has an MD and is currently an associate professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and her colleagues David Bickham and Joanne Cantor helps to support the fact that social media has become a substitute for face to face communication. Hodge states, “Young adults social anxiety increases when people are faced with social situations” (Hoge, Bickham, Cantor. 78), and this is one of the many ways that social media affects loneliness. A study included in the journal was conducted by asking young adults about their well-being over a two-week span and how it was connected to Facebook. Hoge, Bickham, and Cantor found that the more the young adults used Facebook, the more their life satisfaction decreased (Hoge et al. 77). This could be linked to the fact that Facebook was substituting for real life connections and virtual connections made them feel disconnected from others. Additionally, Hodge acknowledges the fact that, “Depression has been postulated to be caused by substituted digital communication, such as excessive mobile phone use that takes the place of face-to-face contact and causes subsequent social isolation” (Hoge et al. 78), this information helps support the fact that social media can substitute for personal relationships and this can lead to an increase in social anxiety. Hodge found that studies showed that people felt anxious when they had to communicate with others face to face rather than on social media. Michelle O’Reilly who is an associate professor at the University of Leicester conducted a study on U.S. teens and asked them about their social media use. O’Reilly found that “some teens still use social media even if it brought negative effects because they were dependent on social media” (O’Reilly et al. 609) She found that 57% of U.S. teens had begun relationships online (O’Reilly et al. 602), this data supports the fact that teens are substituting face to face relationships for online relationships on social media and that social media use is linked to a reduction in face-to-face contact (O’Reilly et al, p.603). Not being able to have these face-to-face friendships can cause loneliness in adolescents. Jeff Cain, an associate professor of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Kentucky, states that people have replaced face to face relationships with online relationships and this causes loneliness which can lead to anxiety and depression (Cain, p.738) Cain draws the fact that “digital communications has resulted in students who are lonely in crowds of thousands because they have substituted authentic, face-to-face relationships with virtual friendships” (Cain 738). Digital communication is rapidly replacing real-life relationships and this is diminishing social skills causing teens to feel lonelier in today’s society because they can’t effectively communicate with others and build meaningful relationships. Laura Choate of Psychology Today, states that “findings from a recently released study demonstrate that social media can directly impact our mental health, causing increased levels of depressive symptoms and loneliness”, (Choate 1). The article refers to the fact that even though we are very connected to others on social media, the connections don’t seem to satisfy our emotional needs which make us feel lonely. Teens and even adults are neglecting their personal relationships for their online relationships which is why Choate claims, “When using social media for multiple hours per day to the neglect of face-to-face interactions, people report feeling less fulfilled and even more isolated” (Choate 1). Isolation and loneliness are caused by social media because teens and adults are preoccupied with what is happening on social media, and so society brings the loneliness upon themselves because they choose the virtual interaction over the human interaction and compassion.

Counterclaim Some researchers believe that social media can be a positive outlet for people and in some cases can offer support to those who need it and I also believe that social media can be a positive place when used correctly. Researcher Dr. Michelle Drouin, a professor in the department of psychology at Indiana University, has found that social media can actually be a source of support for college students in need. Drouin asserts that support is critical for college students but they may not have much. In supporting her claim, Drouin states that “Unfortunately, support from established connections may be reduced during this time which forces many college students to deal with their psychological issues in absence of trusted support networks” (Drouin 495). This leads to young adults looking to social media when they have problems which can be a positive uplift for some. The journal refers to a 35 question survey that included 662 undergraduate students in Northeast Indiana and it was conducted to find out about the sources that college students preferred to use when they dealt with problems. 54.2% of the participants stated that they have been given support through social media on occasion and 15% stated that they frequently get support through social media during difficult times. Although some of the participants indicated that social media did affect their anxiety and depression, they still found support when they needed it. Young adults post their problems on social media and others reach out to them with advice and support and social media is being used in an uplifting way when used like this instead of a negative. In conclusion, Drouin believes that social media can be a positive outlet for those who need help or support although this isn’t always the case because social media does still have negative comments and concerns.

In addition to loneliness, social media also leads to an increase in anxiety because some people tend to get “FOMO”, otherwise known as fear of missing out and this causes their anxiety to increase. Melissa Hunt, an associate director of clinical training at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that consisted of 143 undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, the study had two groups and one group was instructed to use social media as usual for three weeks and the other group was instructed to limit social media to ten minutes an app for three apps with these apps being Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Regarding the decrease of social media use, Hunt found that “limiting social media usage on a mobile phone to 10 minutes per platform per day for a full three weeks had a significant impact on well-being” (Hunt et al. 763). In conclusion, the results found that reducing social media use was most impactful for those who started the study with high levels of depression, and subjects with moderately-severe depressive symptoms also saw a decline in their depressive symptoms (Hunt et al. 763). The study helps to support the fact that social media has a dramatic negative impact on anxiety and that cutting social media out or reducing it has a positive impact on our mental health. The participants did not feel left out because as they started to go on social media less and less, they started to not care about what was happening to others. Elizabeth Hoge refers to anxiety when she claims, “the use of social technology has a become a primary method of communication for a majority of young adults and interrupting the use of these technologies can lead to increased levels of anxiety” (Hoge et al. 78). Interrupting the use of social media for teens can make them feel like they are being left out and the result is an increase in anxiety. Jeff Cain refers to “FOMO” and states that “several studies have also shown that the “fear of missing out” is associated with problematic smartphone use” (Cain 739). Seeing what others are doing can lead someone not involved to feel left out and, this in turn, causes symptoms of anxiety to rise. “they perceive others’ lives more favorable than their own” (Cain 739), this quote shows that some teens view others’ lives better than their own which causes FOMO which causes a rise in anxiety. Another author, Laura Choate of Psychology Today, also refers to “FOMO” and says “as people mindlessly scroll through their feeds, they compare themselves to others, which can create envy, feelings of rejection, and contribute to a “fear of missing out” on a great time everyone else seems to be having” (Choate 2). This supports the idea that seeing what others are doing contributes to “FOMO” and that contributes to the boost of anxiety and many users feel that their anxiety is caused by social media. Joanne Worsley who is a professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool, and her colleagues Rosie Mansfield and Rhiannon Corcoran claim that attachment anxiety influences problematic social media use (Worsley et al. 564). A study done by Worsley and her team was made up of 915 young adults aged 18-25 and they completed an online survey that measured attachment styles and problematic social media use (Worsley et al. 564). The data showed that greater attachment anxiety was associated with problematic use of social media and that psychological well-being and attachment anxiety were linked to social media in a negative way.

Moreover, Social media leads to an increase in depressive symptoms because some people are victims of cyberbullying or they feel like they are not popular enough on social media. Cyberbullying in the worst cases can lead to suicide and this is caused because of social media and this should never be the case. Cyberbullies threaten their peers over social media with some even going as far to threaten death and this can lead a teenager to become frightened and depressed. Melissa Hunt and her team found that time spent on screen activities was significantly correlated with more depressive symptoms and risk for suicide-related outcomes (Hunt et al. 752). Spending too much time on social media can cause someone to overthink and this is when depressive symptoms see an increase. The study that Hunt conducted provided data that supported the fact that social media negatively affects depression because the group who limited their social media had lower symptoms of depression after reducing their use of it dramatically. Those with high symptoms of depression were the ones mainly impacted in a positive way and this research helps show that social media is increasingly becoming a negative reality. O’Reilly and her team state that “social media is directly linked to increased anxiety and depression, particularly among adolescents emotionally invested in it” (O’Reilly et al. 603). They asked adolescents on how social media affects them and the participants stated that social media causes stress, depression, low self-esteem and suicidal ideation (O’Reilly et al. 605). Social media was intended to be a place where teens and adults could interact and share memories and thoughts with one another but it has become a place where verbal attacks can take place and cyberbullying can occur frequently. The data that O’Reilly and her team gathered, frequently showed that the participants stated that social media is a cause of depression and the participants felt that the cause of depressive emotions was social media and they were worried that their peers were at risk for suicide (Hunt et al. 606). This illustrates how some teens feel about social media and that it can have damaging consequences and the negative impact that social media can have on mental health and depression. Referring back to Laura Choate, she claims that social media has been found to have an increase on depressive symptoms and that users of social media should place limits on how much they use if they don’t want their social media experience to lead to an increase in depression (Choate 1). Choate refers to the study that was done at the University of Pennsylvania, that was previously mentioned and she mentions the experimental group who stuck to only thirty minutes per day had lower depressive symptoms compared to the group who used social media as usual and that date helps to show that social media use does have a link to depression. Jeff Cain from the University of Kentucky refers to another article and states that the rise in depression is correlated with the rise in social media use. The study gives way to the fact that the more that someone is on their phone, the more likely they are to be unhappy. A survey included in the article, consisted of 5,009 graduate students from across the U.S. showed that 33.5% of participants “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” (Cain 738). Cain believes that the reason for this alarming statistic is because research is beginning to indicate that the use of social media is affecting well-being and mental health. Educators have been concerned with distractions from social media and they now believe that the negative impact is rising. A study included in the article gives support of depression linked to social media use but it does not give the specifics of the study, it mentions that in a study of young adults aged twenty to twenty-four found that frequent social media use was associated with higher stress, sleep disturbances, and depression (Cain 739). If a student has depression then it will greatly hinder their academic success and their overall wellness and studies are showing that this recent rise in depression is linked to an increase in social media use. Cain mentions that we are entering an era where depression is a major threat to students and that society needs to help those with problems because of social media (Cain 740). Another researcher, Ariel Shensa from the University of Pittsburgh hypothesized that social media use and depression can be explained by problematic social media use which is characterized by addictive components (Shensa et al. 50). Shensa and her team conducted a study of U.S. adults aged 19 to 32 and asked them about their social media use and they measured depressive symptoms using the four-item patient-reported out-comes measurement information system depression scale for adults (Shensa et al. 151). The data showed that there were positive associations between problematic social media use and depressive symptoms because the participants felt left out (Shensa et al. 151). Social media has been shown to affect mental health in a negative way and it has worsened depression repeatedly.

Before it used to be drugs and alcohol that teens were addicted to but in today’s day and age, teens are addicted to social media. Teenagers can’t get enough of what is on their smartphones and the majority of what is happening on their screen is related to social media. O’Reilly and her team state that thematic analysis suggested that adolescents believed that social media was framed as an addiction (O’Reilly et al. 608). A few of the adolescents stated that “people can’t survive without their phone and social media is like an online drug” (O’Reilly et al. 608). Social media as an addiction has been recognized by clinical professionals and they believe that it needs to be stopped. Social media as an addiction is real, a study referenced in the article states that 90% of adolescents in that study used social media during the day and at night that 37% lose sleep because of this” (O’Reilly et al. 609). Addiction is referenced in Cain’s article when he says, “those susceptible to addiction have simply shifted to a new drug: smartphones” (Cain 739). The journal references a neuroimaging study which showed social media addiction and how it “showed similar increases in activity in brain regions associated with substance-related addictions” (Cain 739). Social media as an addiction is increasing and action must be taken before all adolescents are affected by social media and their negative impact on mental health.

Overall, social media has brought upon numerous negative effects on teenagers in today’s society. The reality is that social media is around to stay but unfortunately there are many negative impacts. Society has increased the use of social media greatly and with that comes consequences such as an increase in depression, anxiety, and loneliness and addiction. Numerous studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between depression and anxiety increase and social media. Reducing the use of social media can help to positively impact mental health, decreasing the use of social media cuts down negative thoughts of being left out and depression because of cyberbullying. Thoughts of loneliness are increased the more society uses social media because it makes users feel isolated and left out which in turn causes an increase in depression and anxiety. The consequences of addictive social media are very negative which is why researchers advocate for reducing the use of social media as much as possible because research has indicated that social media does indeed negatively affect mental health. If society listened to research then we can all use social media in a healthy way in a way that is enjoyable but also in a reasonable time manner instead of in a manner that causes depression and anxiety. I believe that the more that teenagers use social media, the more likely they are to experience anxiety and depression at some point in their life. Social media can be used in peace if used reasonably and smartly, but if it is used excessively then the negative impacts will surface. The consequences of loneliness, anxiety, and depression and addiction will rise if teens and adults continue to use social media excessively so it is best to cut down when possible because it has a more negative impact than a positive one.