Mental illness continually prevails among the youth and social media platforms form part of this dark wave. The great impact that social media has cannot be negated, however, unfiltered access to different kinds of content has been shown to contribute to the development of, and perpetuate mental illness. Why should we be concerned? Because mental illness is not taken as seriously as it should be.
Cyber bullying: Commonly experienced in various forms, from hurtful comments, threats to photographs and videos that cause distress. One can “mute, block and move on” but it does not take away from the harm it has caused. Victims lose confidence, feel worthless, resort to self-harm and to the worst extent suffer depression and anxiety.
Body Image Concerns: Young people tend to admire certain bodily appearances and start comparing them with theirs. Self-hate, depression, low body-confidence and eating disorders commonly arise from the inability to attain what “ideal” bodies should look like – Abs, popping biceps and quadriceps, toned gluts. While we are at it, let’s address the myth that body image is the female issue.
Males are also vulnerable and affected just as much.
They also develop eating disorders and commonly put their bodies through extensive fitness activities.
Self-esteem and confidence in the context of body image are also negatively affect by the increasing use of digital software to edit photographs posted on social media. This creates a false sense of beauty and young people sadly fall in that trap.
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO): This is the culprit for inconsistent sleeping patterns and behavioural changes. FOMO is associated with excessive screen time which eventually leads to mental exhaustion, lower mood, reduced productivity and lower life satisfaction. Detrimental effects on academic attainment is commonly experienced by those in the sphere of academia.
Easily accessible harmful and distressing content indirectly attempts to “normalize” self-harm and depression, making it appear more “okay” to suffer than it is to seek psychological help hence the is significantly concerning link between social media use and rates of self-harm and suicide.
Appropriate digital resilience is essential, especially during this lockdown time. We may not be able to control what we might have access to on social media, but for the sake of our mental wellbeing, let us vent to trusted persons and/or check in by the nearest doctor/therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist.
Reference: Glazzard, Jonathan & Stones, Samuel. (2019). Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health. 10.5772/intechopen.88569