Social media is a useful tool that connects people all around the globe. It allows individuals to talk, video-chat, text, and share information with others no matter where they are in the world. Social media is a priceless tool. However, all who use it do often end up paying a price.
We hear today that “social media is ruining the minds of young people in America.” However, many older generations are just as active on social platforms and are equally exposed to the same wildfire of misinformation. Yes, the main age range of Facebook users is 25-30-year-olds, Instagram is most popular with 18-24-year-old people and the same goes for Twitter according to Sprout Social. Understandably, people would assume that no one older would have a use for social platforms, however, that is untrue. Around 79% of 30-49-year-olds, 68% of 50-64-year-olds and 46% of 65+-year-olds use Facebook daily. This adds up to about 134.4 million people that are on social media every day, soaking up information. Young people are not the only ones taking advantage of these cost-free social platforms.
Regardless of age or social media usage, even the smallest amount of exposure can leave a lasting impact. Both pros and cons of social media play a role in our mental health.
Pros of using social media
Ability to instantly communicate with friends and family
From instant messages to group video-calls, social media allows every individual an opportunity to connect with others and they can do it for free!
Expand your personal and professional network
Social media allows you to make new friends and connect with groups that share your interests. Also, it gives easy access to individuals or companies in a given professional field, which can often lead to learning or job opportunities.
Raise awareness about worthwhile causes and invite others to join you
Funds can be raised to support a charity or an individual struggling with medical bills. The information about causes like these can be shared instantly. Social media provides a wider reach in communication between people, companies, and causes.
Discover new resources regarding issues you care about
Social media houses an extensive number of resources about almost any topic one finds interesting. From cooking to self-care to exercise and sports to mental health, the possibilities are truly endless.
Provides an outlet for self-expression and creativity
Individuals have the chance to share their ideas and opinions in a space that may be easier to face than an in-person sharing of ideas. Whether a person is an aspiring artist trying to generate a following or simply someone who wants feedback on their creative writing, social media gives people a chance to express themselves and have a supportive community behind them.
Cons of Social Media
Skewed perception of life or your appearance
Very few people using social media to post about their bad days and sad moments that they commonly face. This gives other people on a given platform the misconception that someone else’s life is perfect and that they are doing something wrong. Social media glamorizes everyday life and can make people forget that no one is perfect no matter how perfect their profile may seem.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Being isolated from a conversation or left out of an event is something that someone of any age can agree they do not enjoy. Social media gives an exaggerated sense that if you are not on the platform you are missing something “big”. This creates many issues including generating a compulsive need to pick up your phone, even while driving or when hanging out with people in person.
According to Help Guide, “10% of teens report being bullied on social media.” This may not seem like a large number, however, granted that social platforms were meant to be places of connection and positivity, cyberbullying was never part of the equation. People have just taken advantage of the false sense of safety that comes with posting on social media to take out their anger on others.
Depression and anxiety
To be mentally healthy, humans need in-person interaction, physical touch and eye contact with people that we care about. Without this, your mind is far more susceptible to mental illness. A University of Pennsylvania study showed that people often feel more alone when they prioritize social media over their relationships.
Social media provides instant gratification that can often promote feels of unhealthy self-centeredness. As the number of likes, comments and shares increase, people are often given a false view of themselves and often distances them from real-life connections.
The platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were designed with the purpose to connect us with the people we love. Unfortunately, they have also separated us from reality and have given us a false perception of ourselves. From constant personal comparisons, distractions from meaningful real-life interactions, to cyberbullying experiences, social media often leave a more negative impact on its viewers.
This information is not just for teens, it is for people of all ages. As humans, we are simply the output of whatever we take in. Choose to take in positive resources, factual information and loving people that will lift you. Do not let social media be the device that takes your mental health down.