In this digital age, most people depend on technology and social media to make communication easier. Although many people with various social network platforms such as Facebook or Instagram find it entertaining, social networks have a lot of negative impacts.
As the use of the internet grew, mood disorders and depression among individuals rose as well. Social media has become the most harmful affliction for young people in the advanced world. Studies on the influence of social media deduced that as the use of social media increases, so does depression and mood disorders.
Do Social Networks Harm People?
There is a huge difference between the lifestyle of previous generations and the lifestyle of today’s young adults and teenagers.
When we compare the past and present generations, we can observe that most of the present generation has at least one account on the different social media channels. Having and maintaining a social media account (or accounts) is time-consuming and ultimately limits the time this generation spends with their friends and family. Experts believe that the rise in the number of depression correlates with social media use because social media essentially portrays a false reality – leaving users to feel isolated.
There is a Chinese saying:
When things reach an extreme, they can only move in the opposite direction (idiom)
In other words, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Similar to social media usage. While it may seem small and insignificant, constantly checking your notifications and counting your likes can lead to extreme cases like depression. Social media has plenty of benefits but how you choose to use it is ultimately up to you.
Here are 3 negative impacts of social networks that correlate with depression.
1. Restricted Healthy Activities
A probable cause of depression among young adults and teenagers who engage too much on social media is that they are practically doing nothing.
Meaning, they are not performing any physical activity or participating in things that can bring them a sense of achievement – like developing a new skill or past-time. If people spend an excessive amount of time on their mobile devices, they will form addiction and eventually dedicate less time to significant tasks.
Teens and adults who engage too much in social media do not get enough happiness in return to make them feel proud of themselves or boost their self-esteem. Although we find it nice whenever we receive a new notification, friend request, or a “like” on our posts. These small pleasures are not in the long-term satisfying or beneficial.
2. Unhealthy Comparisons
The rise in depression is also the result of an increasing lack of self-confidence, particularly in teenagers. This is usually a result of them making constant comparisons with other individuals they consider to be more popular, smarter, prettier, and more prosperous.
Such comparisons can also happen when individuals are following influencers and celebrities (who they do not realize use a lot of photo editing). If these young individuals constantly compare their own lives with those false and photoshopped images, it can extremely affect their self-confidence.
Teens and young adults who spend a lot of time on social network platforms also tend to post things that will get them the most likes. Things that will make everyone believe they are living a perfect life. They want everyone to know that they are beautiful and that they are happy.
Social media is the new way of seeking approval from society, and if you post the wrong thing – it can easily put your social status at risk.
3. Mood Swings and Lack of Sleep
Excessive social media use can also indirectly influence one’s mood. For example, one of the most typical contributors to emotional sadness in teenagers and young adults is lack of sleep, which can be a product of social media usage.
A study revealed that at least half of adolescents look at their mobile devices before they go to bed. This habit makes them get less sleeping hours compared to their friends who do not use their smartphones before sleeping.
The blue light coming from electronic screens gets in the way with the ability to sleep.
How Can You Minimize the Harmful Effects of Social Networks?
While experts do not have physical evidence that the use of social media can cause depression, there are several warning signs that it can affect our family and friends. For parents, it is ideal for you to know the benefits of staying away from social media.
So, limit your kid’s engagement on social media and guide towards activities that can facilitate physical movements.
Also, know and understand the signs and symptoms of depression. If you observe that your kid might be lonely or low-spirited, always take this seriously. Always ask your kid how he or she is doing, and never hesitate to visit a mental health doctor.
Here Are Practical Steps You Can Apply to Guarantee Healthy Engagement on Social Networks
1. Focus on Reality
It is not a surprise anymore that individuals are more prone to develop loneliness – especially from constantly comparing their lives to others, specifically on social media. So, ensure your children engages in social communication offline. Also, make time for activities that can help in building their confidence.
2. Turn Off Social Media Notifications
Application developers are becoming more aggressive when it comes to notification alerts. They do this to attract users to suspend whatever they are doing and engage with their mobile devices. So, switch the notification alerts off.
3. Ensure Careful Use of Social Network Applications
Encourage each family member to be smart in terms of the amount of time they spend on social media. As mentioned above, social media use causes mood disorders and stress, so it is ideal to limit social media use.
4. Discourage Smartphone Use Before Bedtime
Educate your kids about the harmful effects of using mobile devices before sleep for them to get a full 8 hours of sleep without any worry.
Although social network platforms have benefits, particularly in communications, global news updates, sports, etc. it is best to limit our exposure to it. Plus, if you find one of your family members to be lonely, always talk to them and make them feel a sense of belongingness.