During COVID, we saw each other on social media more than usual, which is expected. We can all agree that social media has its pros and cons, however, I think we need to limit our time spent on social media not only because of the negative side effects but their implications for our long term mental health.
When people watch people’s highlights online and feel left out of an activity, it can affect them both physically and emotionally.
A 2018 UK study at McLean Hospital suggests that prolonged use of social media can cause delayed sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss and poor academic performance. Numerous studies have shown a strong link between heavy use of social media and increased risk of depression.
I don’t think any research is needed to show how much more depressed we feel the more we use social media. That’s not to say that social media / tech is inherently bad. I love that my niece can have the technology to help her with her homework; I think it helped her expand her knowledge. However, we also have to watch the pitfalls of social media, especially whenever I see her with a phone in my hand.
When I was a kid, I would go out, be physically active, and use my imagination to have fun in my own way. Now that she has a smartphone, there is no longer any imagination used in the same way since everything is available on social networks. According to social travel theory, more time on social media means less time one is likely to spend socializing face to face. Ironically, social media was created to increase this interaction, but not in a way we expected.
It also distracts her during school as she feels the urge to text her friends all the time and constantly film TikToks. She’s so addicted to tech and social media that she creates a big scene whenever she can’t have it. I think restricting children’s phone use would help curb this behavior.
Another downside to social media is that its convenience increases the likelihood of spreading fake news and confusing readers. I think we’ve all experienced our fair share of fake news during COVID, and we’re all on the phone trying to figure out what’s going on in the world. But anyone with an internet connection can create fake news, even if platforms try to stop it. In my opinion, social media encourages anti-social behavior.
Cyberbullying is something older generations have never experienced. Cyberbullying is at an all time high (59% of teens) according to Pew Research. Social media can create opportunities to meet like-minded people by fostering positive relationships, but it can also mean encountering many pitfalls like this. Cyberbullying is linked to depression and suicide in teens, with reports suggesting cyberbullying is on the increase, according to a recent Science Daily study.
Overall, I think it’s important to limit the time spent on social media to younger generations.