Social Media has been around for what feels like a lifetime to most of us. However, this statement is greatly untrue. According to historycooperative.org, social media was born in 1997, when the website Six Degrees was created. Benjamin Hale of historycooperative.
org states, “It was named after the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory and lasted from 1997 to 2001. Six Degrees allowed users to create a profile and then friend other users.” Social media allows people to be able to share aspects of their lives with others. Since the birth of social media, it has only become increasingly popular as the years go by. Every year, more and more people join the ever growing network of apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. Although social media does have its positive effects, such as communicating and keeping up with family and friends who live far away, it also has its negative effects.
Social Media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat have a negative impact on today’s society, which can lead to a number of problems, such as loneliness, anxiety, suicide, addictive behavior, and the spreading of false information. Use of social media leads to increased feelings of loneliness. Loneliness in the young is largely caused by what we see on social media: possibly photos on Instagram of someone and their many friends doing fun activities.
The fewer friends a person has, feelings of loneliness tend to increase. Today, social media is a significant source of finding friends. (Graham C.L.
Davey) According to Graham C.L. Davey Ph.D.
, “Whether you perceive yourself to be a successful user of social media is likely to have an impact on feelings of loneliness, anxiety, paranoia, and mental health generally.” Social media adds a new layer to loneliness by allowing individuals to log onto Instagram or Facebook and view other people’s lifestyles and compare them to one’s own. It’s next to impossible to not do this.
Not only that, but it’s incredibly easy to do so as well. (Graham C.L. Davey) According to a study of university students in the UK, they found that “real life social interaction was negatively associated with excessive use of Twitter, and loneliness was a significant factor that mediated this relationship,” so it’s obvious that many people use social networking sites in general to relieve themselves of their loneliness, which ironically, only makes them more lonely. In a study done by Brian Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh, of 1,787 U.
S. adults ages 19 to 32, it turns out that the people who spent more than two hours a day on social media had twice the odds of social isolation than those who spent only a half hour or less a day. Also, people who checked into social media sites 58 or more times per week had more than three times the odds of social isolation than people who checked in less than nine times per week. (Katherine Hobson) Along with loneliness, social media has also been linked to feelings of anxiety.
Recent studies show a serious increase in depression and suicidal thoughts over the past several years for teens, especially girls and those who spend several hours a day on social media sites. (Leah Shafer) According to Youth and technology expert Amanda Lenhart’s 2015 Pew study of teens, technology, and friendships show a list of social stressors related to social media that increase anxiety. Some of these situations include seeing people posting about events to which you’ve been left out, feeling pressure to post pictures and videos that make you feel and look good, feeling anxious about getting comments and likes, or having an individual post things about you that you cannot control. (Leah Shafer) Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health reported that Instagram was the social media site with the worst ramifications for teenagers’ mental health. One teen patient, in therapy for his anxiety disorder, told the Times that he “would constantly be judging my self-worth online” during high school. (David Z. Morris) The design of apps themselves can also cause adverse reactions, especially for those with a high chance of getting anxiety.
“Many apps, gadgets, and media platforms are carefully designed to manipulate our brains by hijacking pleasure centers, which young people have less ability to resist.” states David Z. Morris of fortune.com.
These apps can create long-term effects on a developing brain. (David Z. Morris)