The Cyber Effect
How many times a day would you say you look at your phone? Out of boredom or maybe just out of habit. How many times do you find yourself frustrated seeing your friends on social media taking amazing trips, buying nice things and showing them off while you’re stuck at work or school wishing you didn’t have all these responsibilities or bills to pay. I can definitely relate. Now take a second and picture a world without social media, were your only focused on yourself. A world where you’re not worried about the latest trends, of out doing one another constantly and dealing with social pressures. I bet snapchat isn’t looking to good right now right? I don’t mean to divert you from social media after all it could be very useful, we get information we need now at lightning speed, we get to communicate with our loved ones and start forums and discussions with people who can relate with certain issues. But if your losing more than your gaining you might want to reconsider what personal information you are giving out, how much time you spend on these platforms, and the importance you give to each like on a post.
A big component to worry about is Privacy, in a survey conducted by ProCon.org it was reported that 81% of people feel “not very” or “not at all’ secure when using social media sites to share private information. On the law enforcement side 73% of federal, state and local law professionals surveyed that social media helps solve crimes more quickly and has helped prosecute many criminals. For example, a case in 2014 where a gang was charged for the beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia, PA. The gang was caught because they had uploaded pictures of the beating and left incriminating comments online. Did you know that the National Security Agency can monitor social media activity and read the content of private social media messages simply by entering a person username into their system? And let’s not forget the latest scandal with facebook leaking their user’s private information.
A study done by the US National library of Medicine Institute of Health found in 3 separate studies that the use of social media is correlated with personality and brain disorders. The first study showed that users between the ages of 19 and 32 were associated with having increased depression(Ly et al., 2006). The second study focused on sleep disturbance and found that people who had a higher frequency of social media use have significantly greater odds of having sleep disturbance compared to those who use it for less time (Levenson et al., 2006). And lastly, anxiety. Individuals who use social media have an emotional and behavioral attachment that can cause different associations with mental health outcomes. These specific results found that those who use social media more constantly have increased odds of elevated anxiety. (Shensa et al., 2006).
If you feel depressed and anxiety when using social media sites you are not alone. Psychologists from the accredited website psychology today surveyed 1500 people and from that number 60% of social media users feel inadequate and have feelings of jealousy while comparing themselves to others on facebook, instagram etc,. The author of the article Allison Abrams says that if you are already in a low mood or not feeling good about yourself, having pictures of happy couples and smiling babies pop up on your screen on a consistent basis may make you feel worse. She states it is also important to remember, for each individual whose qualities you covet, there’s someone out there who wishes they had what you have. If we can’t change our outer circumstances, at least we can try and change our perspective and learn to be grateful for what we have. She also notes some simple solutions by trying the following; Deactivate your Facebook/Instagram account (you can always reactivate it later), Un follow your most (seemingly) happy and successful friends, Remember that social media sites are not a representation of reality and most people leave out the negative factors of the lives and only post the happy and exciting moments, and turn off the computer or put down your phone and go make your own happy moments (Abrams).
The National Alliance on Mental Illness advises that we analyze and begin to understand our own personal reasons for using social media and evaluate whether our use of these sites is helping or hindering our sense of connection and our overall emotional health. Once we understand our underlying needs for those sites we can adjust our expectations of them. For example are you using these sites to build social or professional relationships? Or maybe just to stay in touch with friends that live far away? Once you determine what you are looking for you can set realistic goals. Here are a few tips they offer us to keep it all balanced; Limit the time you spend in the virtual world aka Social media. Send texts and private messages rather than sending them through an open forum such as Instagram, this will allow a more personal and intimate conversation with the person you are messaging. Also make sure to schedule time to see your friends and family, having positive and secure relationships is strongly associated with high levels of self esteem while also fostering feelings of connectedness and decreases depression and anxiety (Durlofsky).
Studies from the University of Harvard suggest that we be a role model to our family and friends by setting screen free times whether it’s in the evening, during a car ride or during special moments like family trips or vacations. After all it’s always better to live in the moment then to hide behind a screen and miss the beauty of it all. It will also help to open up to other entertainment sources like playing sports or exercising with friends. The goal is for the individual to put their devices down on their own to help build their ability to manage their interactions with technology and learning a key life skill that we need to develop now and into the future.
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Durlofsky Paula PhD. (2016). The National Alliance of Mental Illness Montgomery County. Can Too Much Social Media Cause Depression. Retrieved from
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Hocking Lucy. (2018). Rand Corporation. Does Social Media Depression in young people really exist. Retrieved from
Stone Jasmine. (2018). 2 Oceans Vibe. Watch this video if you think you or a friend might have social media addiction which leads to depression. Retrieved from