Communication occurs during interaction and our urge to interact and connect with others is unavoidable. According to Blackwell (69), the usage of social networking sites such as Tinder, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have emerged as the cornerstone of modern communication and connection since they offer their users a sense of belonging and a redefine their way of being. Blackwell (71) added that there absolutely no problem or nothing wrong with using social media but the problem emerge after the user becomes addicted and spends much time on these platforms and the habit ends up affecting their lives in a negative way. Regardless of the numerous benefits by this sites, current research has reignited dialogs over the place of social networking sites and social media in our lives
Social media and social networking sites addiction have been found to have significant impacts to the mental health of users especially the young generation who are enthusiastic users of these technology. In his research, Lin (31) discovered that the use of social networking platforms influenced numerous aspects of the user’s life like their academic achievement and their real life relationships. Even though there is no official medical recognition of social media addiction as a disorder, addiction means a compulsive behavior which eventually leads to negative effects. Blackwell (11) found that there is close link between social network site addiction and innate basic psychological needs. Since users can get instant feedbacks from hundreds of people, they get rely on this social networks for feedback. Lin (31) added that social media stimulates the reward pathway of the brain which is the basis of addiction.
The use of social media can also contribute to depression and feeling of anxiety. In a research by Turel (84), clinical psychologists revealed that individuals who excessively use of social media stands a higher chance to depression and anxiety that those who don’t. In the past one decade, most people have preferred the use of emails, text messages and the use of social media instead engaging in real life conversation. According to Blackwell (69), spending too much time on social leads to unhealthy sleep patterns and the quality of sleep itself which leads to anxiety. Individuals can feel a sense of worry and restlessness, trouble concentrating and sleeping. Depression is characterized by feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness and low mood depending on the quality of online interaction.
Additionally, social media platforms have reported numerous cases of cyberbullying, cyber-harassment and spread of fake news. According to Lin (31), numerous social media platforms are easily reached for both predators and friends. Since the existing platforms are easy to access, teenage users, preteen and children are disposed to cyber-bullying since they are the most susceptible to threats and attacks. On the other hand, cyber-harassment entails an adult victim and one might be dealing with unscrupulous person without their knowledge. This person might then use the information posted by someone on social media against you. For example, fake news about a celebrity who died in a critical accident. Numerous websites are created that spread hoaxes and disinformation just to drive traffic to their sites and spread through the social media platforms.
For treatment and therapies, people addicted to social media networks should first admit that they are addicted. Even though social media addiction is an individual responsibility, healthcare providers, researchers, employers, social media operators and educational establishments should all play a part in reducing the excessive use of social media. In his research, Blackwell (12) denoted that treatment and recovery only works after the addict is no longer in denial. The first step is reducing the time spent while using the networking sites. However, the overall strategies focus on a balanced use of technology and social media limitations while also encouraging engagement in offline relationships and activities. Talk therapy can be an effective and both therapists and psychiatrists use a large repertoire to aid people cope up with the addiction. Clinical therapy might be used if the user shows consistent symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Even though social media is a prodigious way to keep in touch with family, friends, sharing of information and organizing events, it’s clear that its addiction can lead to adverse mental health. From the analysis, however, it is worth noting that social media affects people depending with their personality traits and their preexisting conditions. Social media brings myriad benefits to our lives and it will be wrong to universally consider it a bad thing. However, its addiction and excessive use has been linked with adverse mental and health complications such as depression, anxiety and poor relationships in the real life. Besides social media being a revolution in mass communication, it stands as a major menace towards human interactions and people should be sensible on how to utilize different platforms to their benefit without bias to another.
Blackwell, David, et al. “Extraversion, neuroticism, attachment style and fear of missing out as predictors of social media use and addiction.” Personality and Individual Differences 116 (2017): 69-72.
Turel, Ofir, Damien Brevers, and Antoine Bechara. “Time distortion when users at-risk for social media addiction engage in non-social media tasks.” Journal of psychiatric research 97 (2018): 84-88.
Lin, Liu Yi, et al. “Association between social media use and depression among US young adults.” Depression and anxiety 33.4 (2016): 323-331.