Does Social Media Hurt Our Mental Health?

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When it’s no longer necessary to talk face to face and we have access to other, faster ways for communication, are we left more sensitive to mental health problems when we’re always behind a screen?

Jordan Bivins

Generation Z  is the first generation to grow up with technology. On average, kids born in Generation Z got their first phone at the age of 13. As time goes on, smartphones become more accessible and more common the younger a kid gets their first phone. People born in Generation Z are the heaviest user in nine of the top 16 social media sites. Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube and Tiktok are of these apps that all hold a different purpose and advantage. All of these apps are opportunities to be more social, thus the name social media. On Instagram you can post about your life, Snapchat you can talk to friends, Tiktok you can post short videos on things you’re interested in. All these ways to stay social, but are they really making us more prone to mental illness?

As a generation as a whole we are pretty much phone addicted, no matter how much one might deny it. Checking our phones daily to see who snapped us, who posted on Insta, what Tiktoker had a scandal or what time our favorite Youtuber is releasing their video. Generation Z is considered the technology natives out of all other generations because of how we’ve grown up with it. More often than not, Generation Z will opt to snap or direct message a friend than set up a time to talk in person, especially in a pandemic. This works well because it’s quick communication. At the end of the day, is it better to have a quick text conversation  or partake in a deep talk face to face? Social media also opens our eyes to the problems in this world and the perfections. It’s hard to constantly see perfect bodies and start feeling less than you are. It’s also hard to see terrible things happen to humans and animals in our world. Are all these eye opening things leading us to a harsher mental state?

A growing number of studies have shown that mental health and illness might be a direct effect of social media use. According to Rob Whitley of Psychology Today, “That said, heavy users of social media and digital devices may be forgoing actual face-to-face social interactions to indulge their social media habits.” Whitley suggests a digital detox for those who feel that social media is hurting their mental health. A digital detox is just to unplug whether it be from just social media or your phone entirely. Instead of wasting your time watching 50 Snapchat stories and liking a 100 Instagram posts, maybe you could spend your time reading your favorite book or playing your favorite sport. According to the CHC, Generation Z already has the most mental health problems. Arthur Evans from the CHC says “The fact that more Gen Z individuals than adults in other generations said that they thought their mental health was fair or poor is concerning. However, this could also be interpreted as a positive sign. This generation may be more tuned in to recognizing issues with their mental health than older generations.” Because learning about mental illness is more prevalent in schools, and on social media more kids can understand that their feelings aren’t good for them and are able to reach out for help. 

In the end, social media is a fun way to socialize and learn new things ,but as any else, it should be taken in moderation. It is always a good idea to have deeper face to face conversations (as long as you’re COVID safe). It’s also a good idea to take a digital detox every once in a while and participate in something else that interests you. Always know that you are worthy, you are loved and you are important.