COLUMN: Evolution of social media negatively affects users’ mental states


Although the constant sharing of photos and content seems like a great idea, social media can actually have adverse effects on people's mental states. Annie Aguiar

As social media sites grow and evolve, more people are attracted to apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and more.

Social media makes it simple to connect with friends and share your own content and life events.

Although the constant sharing of photos and content seems like a great idea, social media can actually have adverse effects on people's mental states.

Considering how social media sites are structured now, users can feel judged solely by the number of likes they received on a post.

To combat this, social media users may feel inclined to edit and morph their photos or selfies to garner more likes.

Although photo-editing apps can help users get more likes on their photos, this editing can have drastically negative effects.

“Seven in 10 young people have experienced cyberbullying, with 37% of young people saying they experience cyberbullying on a high-frequency basis... Victims of bullying are more likely to experience low academic performance, depression, anxiety, self-harm, feelings of loneliness and changes in sleeping and eating patterns,” according to the Royal Society for Public Health.

These mental health issues could plague teenagers and young adults for years to come, especially if they heavily use social media sites.

It may seem to some people that increasing social media use will help them get past these issues. For example, perhaps taking time on social media to look at their friends’ posts will cheer them up.

However, it seems the increased use can mimic addictive tendencies.

“Like a drug, we think getting a fix will help, but it actually makes us feel worse, which comes down to an error in our ability to predict our own response,” said Forbes’ contributor Alice Walton.

Even though social media can seem like a safe outlet, it can easily make people compare how their lives stack up to others’.

Robert Potter is a professor in the IU Media School and director of the Institute of Communication and Research.

“I think we learn about how we think life is through the media, and so if we see frustrating political debates or see nothing but the best events being posted on people’s pages, then we think that the world is a frustrating political place and everyone’s lives are perfect" said Potter. "Then, I compare that to my own life, and life is complicated".

Social media use can bring out the negative aspects that one may be dealing with in life. Political tension, for Potter, is one of those negative aspects.

“Facebook has an effect on my self-esteem," said Potter. "I see a lot of political debates that are frustrating. I don’t think it’s the best venue to hold those debates on. Now, I’m just on Instagram, which I know is also owned by the same company, but I can look at the content I want."

Potter said he has found a way around the personal tension that cause him to dislike certain aspects of social media.

He also highlighted some of the issues with Facebook and the tension friends’ posts can bring. Some studies show Facebook has a negative effect on users’ self-esteem.

Researchers at the Institute of Business Management, a private university and Iqra University elaborate on Facebook’s effect on users.

“Increase in social media usage would cause the self-esteem of people to decrease," according to Pakistani researchers. "Time spent on Facebook could be used to predict the self-esteem of individuals."

Their studies found Facebook statistically significant in decreasing users’ self-esteem.

As social media gains popularity each day, its negative effects on users continue to plague society.

As time spent on editing photos and scrolling through feeds grows, social media users have increasingly more risk concerning mental health and self-esteem issues.

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