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Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

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Front Range Community College Technology has come such a long way just in the past decade, we use it for almost everything. Including an obvious one- communication. In 2018, over 90% of people ages 18-24 years old have a social media account including facebook, snapchat, and twitter. Almost 80% of them visit these sites daily. This is all harmless right? It seems as though that’s the case, but its not. There are many studies reporting that social media can detrimental to mental health. Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. There are many damaging effects from social media use including addiction, self-esteem, and depression.

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We have entered into the world of technology where we carry computers in our pockets and at the tips of our fingers. The majority of young adults have at least one social media account; today, we call this “staying connected”. Data from Pew Research Center, a numbers, facts, and trends on internet and technology database, reports that in 2018 over 80% of young adults use social media on a daily basis, not to mention, several times a day. Social media is becoming a problem in over use, just like anything else this is considered addiction. Addiction to social media has not only provided research topics for many psychologists but also a great concern from older generations including friends and family. This addiction is a result from operant conditioning. This theory was introduced by B. F. Skinner and is defined as a method of learning that occured through rewards and punishments for behavior. This can be directly related to the positive feedback and reactions given through social media. We are able to connect and follow friends, models, and people we admire which in turn leads us to a constant use of social media. In 2012, Facebook Addiction Scale was designed by Cecilie Andreassen to determine the rate of addiction to Facebook in young adults. Andreassen as well as many other authors fromUniversity of Bergen created a questionnaire that included this Addiction scale, Tendency scales, and an online sociability scale.

The aspects are to scale mood modifications, tolerance, salience, withdraw, relapse, and conflict. This questionnaire was given to 423 young adult students. The results verified addiction to social media in the student population. After this theory, another questionnaire was created to test the quality of sleep of these users. It was determined that the dependence of facebook may be a result of poor sleep. Based on these results. The overuse and addiction can cause implications to normal daily functions. Today, social media plays a large role in our lives, especially in young adults. Being socially accepted is very important and in some cases we rely and define ourselves to this acceptance. Self-esteem is referred to as the way we define our self worth. In many ways this is done through social media such as posting pictures of ourselves, where we travel, or what we drive. These are ways of not only ‘staying connected’ with family and friends, but also to seek validation from the as well as our followers. We do this to strive for acceptance from others by receiving ‘likes’, which is directly related to Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning. As we follow friends, models, and ones we admire we are comparing ourselves to one another. People usually only post perfect/edited photos of only the best parts of their life which in turn is what we are comparing ourselves to. Comparing ourselves to what we think is perfect can be very detrimental. Self-esteem is important to our mental health and when self-esteem goes down we are more likely to develop many forms of mental illness.

A report done by Mehdizadeh presents a study done at York University, 100 students gave a self-esteem and personality self-report. The results concluded that the students with lower self-esteem were also more active in self-promoting content on social media. Although, a study conducted by Gonzales and Hancock gathered a group of students and provided them with a few different settings that include a mirror, their facebook profile, and and a control setting. The results show that their most positive self esteem was related to their facebook profile. This controversy may be related to the timely use of social media. The constant use of media daily, constant self evaluation, competition, and comparisons is related closer to lower self-esteem, jealousy, and depression.

There are many studies that conclude that depression can be related to the time spend on social media by association of false impression of physical and personal traits of ones we follow or admire. This can lead to low self-esteem, jealousy, isolation, addiction, cyberbullying, etc.

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An article published by Chou and Edge proposing the effects of social media on the perception of others’ lives. This study contained 425 undergraduate students at Utah State University. The students were shown pictures of social media models and they were under the impression that their lives were better and more successful which resulted them to feel that life isn’t fair. The over all results of the study were that people who have preexisting signs of depression were more likely to have more of an impact on their mental health. In contrast, a study in 2013 many psychologists at the University of Michigan conducted a text message based study. Participants received five text messages per day for two weeks to evaluate their mood, social interactions, feelings of loneliness, and social media use. They also received questionnaires to scale these answers. This study was not very useful in determining the results of a decline in their overall well-being. There are many ways that social media can affect our mental health that include addiction, self-esteem, and depression. Because today technology is a very large part of our lives, I believe that people need to pay more attention to how much time they are spending on these sites. It seems as though many of these issues are directly related to the overuse of social media. So, for our families, friends, and ourselves it is important that we become more aware of these effects so we can prevent them.

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Effects Of Social Media On Mental Health. (2019, November 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 1, 2023, from
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