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Unmasking The Impact: How Social Media Affects Mental Health

by Brinda Goel
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Social media has permeated every aspect of our lives in the digital age, influencing how we connect, communicate, and view the world. While social networking sites let users stay in touch with friends and family and access a plethora of information, there is rising worry about how they affect mental health. 

The goal of this article is to clarify the nuanced connection between social media use and mental health. We can comprehend the means by which social media can affect our mental health by looking at the possible implications of comparison, cyberbullying, and constructed online personas.

1. Self-Esteem And Comparison: 

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One of the most obvious drawbacks of social media is the propensity of users to participate in social comparison. People frequently contrast their own selves with the well-manicured and idealized representations of themselves that are displayed on social media. This frequent exposure to the seemingly wonderful lives of others can result in poor self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and feelings of inadequacy.

Many people, particularly famous people and “influencers,” utilize their social networking profiles to present the ideal picture using carefully selected (and manipulated) images and videos, many of which were created using various filters or photo-editing software. Children and teenagers who imitate those profiles could believe that their own lives are missing as a result, which might make them seem worse about themselves. 

2. Cyberbullying And Harassment: 

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Regrettably, social networking platforms have developed into hotbeds for online harassment and cyberbullying. These platforms’ ability to provide anonymity and distance might give people the confidence to engage in harmful behaviors like spreading rumors, making cruel comments, or disclosing personal information. Serious psychological repercussions from these events may include increased stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Cyberbullying victims’ choices for self-defense are limited. There are no parents or teachers there to observe what is taking place and act to stop it. Additionally, because cyberbullying can be done anonymously, the victim has few alternatives, including telling a supervisor about the aggressor.

Cyberbullying can swiftly reveal bullying incidents to tens of thousands of individuals through the usage of social media.

3. Loneliness And Social Isolation:

Image Source: msn.com

Contrary to popular belief, overuse of social media might result in feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Face-to-face encounters and real social ties can be replaced by spending a lot of time on social media. Real-world social skills may deteriorate, empathy may be diminished, and it may be difficult to create and sustain meaningful relationships, all of which are essential for mental health. 

If you believe that you are alone in the world, you may begin to engage in more unhealthy behaviors. For instance, because certain individuals use alcohol or illicit substances as a kind of self-medication, substance misuse, and loneliness are frequently linked. It’s simple to become caught up in what you think when you’re isolated from society, and this can result in a skewed perception of the outside world, yourself, and other people.

4. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO): 

Image Source: istockphoto.com

Using social media might make it more difficult to attend crucial events, activities, or social gatherings. Observing others have fun while we remain idle might make us feel lonely, isolated, and unsatisfied with our own lives. In the end, FOMO can have an adverse effect on mental health by causing worry and a feeling of isolation. 

Sadly, FOMO causes an obsession with constantly checking in on other people’s online lives. We get so dependent on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that it becomes all-important and time-consuming to keep track of what other people perform or how they are responding to our posts. FOMO has reached an all-time high in recent years due to the immediate window that social media gives into the affairs of others.

5. Sleep Disturbances: 

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The use of social media, particularly right before bed, can cause sleep patterns to be disturbed. The melatonin hormone, which controls sleep, can be by the bluish light that screens produce. Additionally, using social media may expose users to exciting content, elicit strong emotions, or encourage addictive behaviors, making it challenging to switch off and relax before bed. Poor sleep can cause mood disorders, cognitive decline, and a general decline in well-being. 

Those who check their phones after going to sleep may be more affected by blue light exposure. A whopping 21% of individuals report waking up in the middle of the night to check their phones, which puts them at an even greater risk of missing sleep and getting a sleep disorder.

Key Takeaways: 

It is essential to approach these platforms with knowledge and intention because social media has complex implications for mental health. Social media can help with emotions of worry, loneliness, and poor self-esteem while also providing opportunities for connection, support, and self-expression. The negative effects can be lessened by being aware of how we use social media, establishing healthy limits, and developing a balanced digital lifestyle. 

In addition, preserving our mental health in the face of the influence of social media requires asking for help, building in-person relationships, and engaging in self-care. In the end, we can navigate the constantly changing social media landscape while promoting our general well-being by being proactive about managing our digital involvement and giving our mental health priority.

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