By: Divya Sundar
It’s no secret that technology shapes the world we live in. From iPhones to self-driving cars, its impact can be seen in every aspect of our lives. Being a teenager, social media has played an especially important role in my day-to-day life. I have spent countless hours scrolling through Instagram or posting on SnapChat. As evident by the millions of users on both these platforms, I’m definitely not the only one. Yet, despite social media’s prevalence, we often don’t stop to reflect on its impact on our mental health. As shown by a few recent studies, social media can have both negative and positive impacts on our wellbeing.
Teens have often been derided by others for being “glued” to their phones and unable to live without their digital devices. Although this may not be entirely true, addiction is definitely possible when it comes to using social media. Due to FOMO, the fear of missing out, we feel the need to be logged onto our device as much as possible. A study done by the Michigan State University found that we generate a positive response from looking at a Facebook-related image, even if it’s for a short period of time. This is what feeds our addiction, which is only furthered by our ability to log in from anywhere: our phones, our laptops and even our smart watches. Unfortunately, addiction isn’t the only way social media can negatively affect our mental health. As we scroll through pictures of stunning Instagram models, we often can’t help but feel inadequate and body conscious. Many psychologists have observed a connection between social media usage and body image concerns. This way of thinking is detrimental to our mental health but is, unfortunately, another damaging side effect of social media.
However, despite the harmful impact social media can have on us, these platforms have also proven to be beneficial.
The various social media apps that we use.
As we watch people strum along on their ukuleles or create amazing hand-drawn animations, we are reminded of the fact that these platforms allow people to express themselves and share their creative talents. People from all over the world can take advantage of platforms like Instagram to gain followers and inspire others. When used in this way, social media can be seen as a positive community that encourages others to pursue their hobbies and passions. When viewed as a supportive community, social media can also be a place for people to establish meaningful connections. Even if someone does not have many contacts in real life, social media can be a way for them to communicate and bond with hundreds from across the globe through forums, direct messaging, and other features.When it comes to romance, research has shown that online relationships may last even longer than traditional ones.
Overall, social media can have a huge impact on our lives. Whether it’s making us feel body conscious or helping us feel connected, there’s no denying that social media’s effects are too broad and far-reaching to be categorized as purely negative or positive. Rather than taking solely one extreme or the other into account, using social media to express our talents and make connections while spending some time in the real world will be the best way to enjoy all it has to offer.