One of the main associations with today’s generation is social media. Apps such as Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are becoming increasingly popular and statistics show that 78% of teenagers across the world own mobile phone, (47% of whom own smartphones), and 94% of teenagers who go online using a mobile device do so daily. Social media is an extremely talked about topic but the effects of social media on mental health are consistently overlooked. More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online, and over 25% of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their mobile phones or internet.

It can be broadly argued that there are two sides to the impact of social media on today’s society. On one side, the fact that 78% of teenagers across the world own mobile phone shows just connected the world is today, allowing ideas and trends to be spread across the globe and allowing people from different countries across the world to communicate in a way that simply was not possible before. However, the other side of this story is that social media could be the reason for why many teens and young adults can find themselves suffering from mental health issues today.

For example, Instagram. The most obvious problems people come across are those of ‘online predators,’ but what about the more subtle problems? Instagram is a photo sharing social media site, now commonly used for people to take photos to post online for their friends to see. Now this may seem harmless, but there may be something more behind it. Most of the time people will only post a picture of themselves of they feel good about it, if they like how they look and are happy for it to be publicly seen. The problem with this is that it can fuel the giant stereotype created by magazines and advertisements of a ‘perfect’ image.’ In addition, sites such as Instagram and Facebook can be used by people to share parts and moments of their life, for example posting a picture from a party. However, people are most likely to only post a positive event/moment thus creating what may appear to be a ‘perfect life’ which. as a result, may cause others to possibly feel lonely and unsatisfied with theirs. For some, seeing this everyday on your phone can create huge self-esteem and self-worth issues which can lead onto much more serious problems.

Other sites such as Twitter and Ask FM are also guilty of causing unnecessary emotional harm. Ask FM especially being known for being the cause of teenage suicides. Teenagers using those sites to publicly talk about other in a bad way is a form of bullying and can be the cause of others to feel useless and unloved. Problems like these are what can lead to depression and even suicide amongst young people.

So does social media cause more harm than good? Social media has changed the world and has a countless list of benefits. It shouldn’t cause more harm than good, especially regarding mental health, but unfortunately it can, and not always in the ways you’d expect it to.

Shivani Ved

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