Can the perfect selfie be sabotaging?
With the rise of technological innovation, we are in an age where we are inundated with a multitude of social media platforms. Social media has been greatly impactful because it connects us in a way that wasn’t even possible less than a decade ago — grandparents and grandchildren that live far away can still interact in their daily lives in very meaningful ways and people are able to touch base with those they haven’t spoken to in a long time. Conversely, social media has its drawbacks — every picture is perfectly manicured and our writing has to button up in a seemingly exclusive way.
Older generations have lived both a life with and apart from social media, but what is it doing to younger generations and how is it impacting their mental health?
Emotional wellness manifests overall physical health, and at Huneycutt Family Medicine we treat the whole individual. If you are looking for a general practitioner in Loveland, we are here for preventative health care, cold and flu season, and everything in between. Learn more about how social media may be impacting emotional wellness in younger generations.
The Conundrum of Cultivating Comparison
Because social media is an ever-evolving entity and hasn’t been around for that long, long-term studies aren’t really possible. There have, however, been a few smaller studies that raise some red flags. In a study through the University of Pittsburgh, the research found a correlation between the time spent scrolling through various social media platforms and an increased negative body image. In another study at UCLA, teenagers from 13 to 18 underwent brain mapping. The results showed that a when a post received a high number of “likes” it lit up the reward center of the brain. The takeaway message teens are getting is there is an influence to like photos regardless of the content based on the higher number of likes. This is where the herd mentality is dangerous and social media consumption is disadvantageous — like what others like and you are in, and if not, you are excluded.
Social media can also cause emotional issues including depression and anxiety. In a study looking at filter selectin people use, scientists could identify the mental state someone was in by the filter they choose. It was also found that depressed users are more likely to use filters less frequently, the photos will contain a face, and when a filter is used it is more likely to be “Inkwell” or black and white. More emotionally stable users tend to use the filter “Valencia” as they produce brighter images.
Overall, the more social media platforms a person is active on — high risk being seven to 10 — is positively correlated with feelings of depression and/or anxiety, whereas a lower risk is two or fewer platforms.
How Teens Are Directly Impacted By Social Media
Older people who have experienced life without social media, can more or less take it or leave, but where it is engrained in younger people it can be destructive.
- Only focusing on the “likes” – Teens may engage in atypical or risky behavior to get more likes.
- Cyberbullying – Teens are more likely to engage in trolling and harassment because there are limited consequences.
- Comparisons – Let’s face it, social media is a highlight reel of our lives and they don’t take into account our daily struggles so it’s easy to see them and feel worse about ourselves.
- Accepting too many “friends” – It’s possible to accept thousands of “friends” if your account isn’t private.
- Less human interaction – We need face-to-face and human interaction on a daily basis — how else are compassion and empathy built? Screentime means less time developing this skill.
- Feelings of jealousy – Being constantly flooded with images of exotic vacations and amazing dining experiences can evoke envy, there’s no doubt. A vicious cycle is created when someone sees an image and then out of their triggered jealousy, they then post one of their own.
Emotional health is just one component to our wellness, so if you or your teen is showing signs of depression or anxiety, take a look at social media usage.
To talk more about mental health issues or preventative wellness, connect with us today!