Social media is an interactive technology that facilitates the creation and sharing of information through virtual communities and pages. Information can be in the form of text, pictures, videos, etc. Popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Youtube. While the creators of these platforms had genuine intentions of allowing people to connect with each other online, they were unable to predict the negative effects that social media has on the younger generation. “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix does a great job of explaining these effects and how they came to be.
In general, mental health issues are proven to have a high correlation with social media usage, especially among teens. They primarily experience body image related disorders as well as depression, anxiety, and suicide. Suicide among teens has gone up more than 90% compared to the last decade. As stated in the documentary, around the time social media platforms were established, depression and suicide rates skyrocketed among teens and pre-teens. Because they start using social media at such a young age, they are exposed to unrealistic portrayals of beauty and self-worth very early on. Girls grow up believing every negative comment about them and don’t realize that most of the people they see on Instagram have doctored their pictures in some way. They start hating how they look and wonder why they can’t look like that naturally. It’s imperative that parents don’t expose their children to social media at a young age, and if they do, they should be having regular talks with them about healthy social media behavior. Having a strong support system can help reduce the likelihood of mental health issues.
Almost all studies about this topic state that particular social media behavior could have been seen as warning signs of suicide. One example is vaguebooking. This is when a person creates a post online that is intentionally vague in order to elicit responses. This can be seen as a cry for help and should be taken seriously. It can make all the difference in the world to simply reply with something positive so that they can feel they’re not alone. Social media can be considered a double edged sword - it can both connect people with others while also alienating them at the same time. I highly recommend watching the documentary “The Social Dilemma” for an in-depth review of how these social platforms work and the ethical concerns that come with them.
Berryman, C., Ferguson, C. J., & Negy, C. (2018). Social media use and mental health among young adults. Psychiatric Quarterly, 89(2), 307-314. doi: 10.1007/s11126-017-9535-6