Social media landed a noticeable impact on the world. It changed the ways of communication, sharing of information, and human interaction. Different social media platforms have cons and pros to users. Its use brings various effects to individuals, but a concerning consequence of social media use is its detrimental impact on wellbeing and mental health.
Every year, one-fourth of British adults are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, costing about 4.5% of the economy’s GDP. Mental illnesses have many causes, but an increasing number of researches points out to heavy use social media.
According to a 2017 survey from the Royal Society for Public Health, 14-24 Britons believe that the social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram negatively affects their wellbeing. Although an average number of subjects think, social networks can be useful for self-expression, and for building communities, they also said that these platforms aggravate serious issues that affect mental health. Heightened depression, anxiety, bullying, fear of missing out, and sleep deprivation are some of the concerning consequences of social media use. Studies show that these unfavorable effects tend to be worse among frequent users.
Many people are aware of the negative impact of social media to users. Even Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, admitted the platform works by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
In 2014, five neuroscientists studied the brain of Facebook users and found that using the network triggers the same impulsive behavior when gambling or abusing drugs. Another study performed by experts from the University of California San Diego showed that increased time spent on Facebook resulted in decreased life satisfaction. For the research, the experts tracked 5,208 Americans and the time they spent on Facebook from 2013 to 2015. The results of the study implied that as the frequency of Facebook use increases, reports of mental health declines.
Reducing screen time is the most plausible solution to the issue. A neuro-scientific study focusing on Facebook users found that the cognitive ability of the network’s users they use to control their impulsiveness is less impaired than gambling and drug addicts. Another study from the activity tracker app, Moment, showed that light users of social media can still have satisfying wellbeing. The app asks 1M of their users weekly if they’re happy or sad when using the mentioned social networks. About 63% of Instagram users who use the app for an average of 1 hour a day report they feel miserable. While, the remaining 37% users who only use the app for around half an hour daily, say they are happy.
On the other hand, the study found that 91% of Facetime users and 84% of people who receives phones calls are much happier than individuals who browse social networks. The results of the research imply that actual conversations bring a better impact to wellbeing than using social networks.