If you’ll observe human beings, you’ll find that the phenomenon of social networking has existed since the very beginning. We are more of a social being than just the living creatures who have always sought to live in social environments. Today, this very basic need has led to the creation of several social platforms which has unknowingly become one of the very important needs of our regular lives.
With around more than 462 million active internet users by January 2018, the Indian population has significantly developed the fondness for social networking website. In the last decade, clearly, a remarkable boom can be seen in the use of various social networks with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat and others.
Facebook has become one of the biggest social networking websites with more than a billion users worldwide.
Today, the proliferation of these websites and their intensive use has become the integral parts of our life. Once considered as fun, now these social platforms have become trivial and even headache to many. Websites which were initially created to bring people closer is actually now criticized for creating the gap between people, misinterpreting the facts, social shaming and also its negative health impact.
Recently, several researchers have blamed social networking sites responsible for various mental health problems. Among many, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem were the common health concerns affecting different individuals.
Social networking sites addiction is now becoming one of the most frequently discussed topics. It can be defined as the uncontrollable use of social networks for an excessive amount of time. Mainly, it is observed in the chronic users who often tend to neglect their family and offline friends.
By many experts, its symptoms have been referred as similar to any other addictions which result in interpersonal, family and social problems. Additionally, this addiction can also result in depression, self-injurious behaviors, sleep problems, obesity and increased alcohol or tobacco use.
Some studies have also found out that internet addiction can cause microstructural changes in the brain. These changes result in alteration of neurotransmitters and can also decrease the gray matter of your brain which is responsible for muscle control, memory, emotions, speech, decision making and others.
Several studies have shown the link between the use of social networking sites and the symptoms of depression. There are several reasons how social network users can become depressed. In contrast to this, some of the already depressed users might start surfing these websites which can worsen their situation.
With the increasing fondness of these social sites, the time each individual is spending in front of their screens have also significantly increased, ultimately affecting the face to face communication with the family and other people.
Another essential reason is that this digital communication can also lead to the altered or fake reality of the person or thing creating an illusion. This can cause wrong conclusions about the physical appearance, intelligence, moral or other characteristics. Further, it has been suggested that depression due to social media can also increase the risk of social isolation.
The basic definition of self-esteem is the overall self-evaluation of a person with respect to their worth or value. In simple words, it is about you appreciating yourself on the basis of appearance, beliefs, emotions, behaviors and others.
Self-esteem is essential for maintaining good mental health and overall quality of life. It is very important for personal motivation and success in life as in low self-esteem you don’t believe in yourself which can hold you back from succeeding. Low self-esteem is also associated with depression, eating disorders and addiction.
A major reason which shows the relationship between social media and low self-esteem is that most of these platforms cause or promote narcissistic behavior (a behavior wherein person lacks empathy for others; they develop an unreal feeling of superiority and increased sense of self-importance). One study has found that individuals with lower self-esteem tend to be more active on social media for the self-promotion on their profiles.
Social media promotes certain behaviors like people looking at oneself in a mirror, hearing one’s own voice, visiting own profiles for multiple times and so on. All these events may lead to low self-esteem for shorter or longer period of time. Constantly comparing themselves with others, own self-evaluation, a wrong perception of reality, jealousy and narcissistic behavior are all factors which somehow influence the individual’s self-esteem.
More of the electronic screens rather than just social networks are responsible for poor sleep quality as well as sleep duration. The lights emitted from most of the electronic devices can disrupt our sleep cycle by delaying the release of a hormone called melatonin. This hormone controls our sleep/wake cycle and its delayed release make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Another factor is all the notifications from different social media which results in chimes, alerts, signals or vibrations which affects our sleep. Checking these notifications feeds, emails or others excites our brain ultimately upsetting the sleep pattern.
It is advised that people should sleep minimum for 7-9 hours every 24 hours. Everyone should avoid the use of electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to the bed to improve their sleep quality. Higher rates of depression, poor school or work performance, obesity and sundry of other problems are associated with sleep deprivation.
Social Media and Bullying
Socialbullying can be defined as the harassment caused to hurt someone by the use of social networking websites. It is practiced by posting any humiliating content, hacking someone’s account, stalking someone, sending vulgar contents or messages, etc.
This type of bullying is associated with increased anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and self-isolation. Furthermore, it can cause sleep problems, headaches, tension, fatigue and poor appetite along with poor school or work performances. It can also act as a trigger for increased use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. In some cases, cyberbullying can also lead to withdrawal from family or friends, violent behavior and suicidal tendencies.
Taking a break from the social media, changing the privacy settings, talking to concern people, keeping your details private and blocking the responsible person are few effective ways to avoid social bullying.
There may be more than a billion active users just for Facebook and many more for other social networking websites causing a significant change in the way how people communicates or interacts. It may also have various positive sides like ease in sharing the latest news or updates or health information or even connecting with long-distance friends.
But, it can be harmful to us in a myriad of ways despite having all these benefits. It can affect our mental health; physical health and also our face to face communication skills with others. I believe that everyone should ask a few questions before using these websites; questions like, does my life getting dependent on these websites? Or am I spending too much time on social media? Or have I become an object to which people can compare to? Or am I affecting my health just due to the fear of missing out?
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