Have you ever wondered what would happen if cellphones and internet were suddenly useless? This may seem like a question to roll your eyes at; however, you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the answers. Social media and smart phones have become a must-have in today’s society. Although they bring convenience, easy access to knowledge and quick communication, social media and smartphones can have some devastating affects on one’s self esteem, relationships and mental health. I find this topic worthy of discussion because social media is used by a large percentage of the world. I find myself obsessing over my own phone and decided to research this topic to better understand why.
To begin, there are reasons to believe social media and smart phone usage causes mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. According to a study done on 1,787 adults, Primack, B. A. (2016) “Compared to those in the lowest quartile of total time a day spent on social media, participants in the highest quartile had increased odds of depression and anxiety.” (p. 33). This small study is not the only evidence we have of depression and anxiety being a result of social media use. In October 2014 an online survey concluded that those describing themselves as constant users of social networking websites also described more symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. (Shensa 116-128). Depression and anxiety are not the only disorders social media has an influence on. There is evidence to suggest social media may be contributing to eating disorders. People often think one benefit of social media use is for marginalized people to find similar friends. They can turn to support groups online for someone to talk to. Sadly some “support groups” are doing more harm than good. Recently, online groups disguised as support groups for eating disorders are promoting anorexia and bulimia. According to Fitzsimmons-Craft, E. E., & Wilfley, D. E. (2019) There is “increasing concern about online communities that promote eating disorder (ED) behaviors through messages and/or images that encourage a “thin ideal” (i.e., promotion of thinness as attractive) and harmful weight loss/weight control practices” (p. 1-11). Social networking sites can negatively influence your mental health and set unfair weight standards.
In addition, social media may be ruining our ability to maintain healthy relationships. With dating apps so common it sometimes feels like we have all the options in the world. It seems like more and more people are meeting through the internet. Social media has created an easy outlet for cheating. Statistically, the rates of infidelity have increased dramatically after the creation of the internet. According to Ducharme (2018) “studies found that around 23% of married men and 12% of married women have at some point had sex with someone other than their spouse.” This statistic is especially shocking considering Laumann et al. (1994), conducted a study in 1988 and 1989 finding “less than 1.5% of spouses admitted to having extramarital partners.”. It’s possible that these statistics may be unrelated, but the evidence suggests that the number of partners admitting to cheating increased after the internet started to take over. Dating apps, another form of social networking may just be a waste of time altogether. An online survey found that most people regularly using dating apps aren’t interested in being in a committed relationship. The participants also described their experiences on dating websites as unhelpful (Mcanulty p.268-265).
Finally, social networking sites can influence your self-esteem. Social media is all about judgement and comparison. It’s only natural that we compare ourselves to other people. This comparison can be positive when it motivates but it can also produce low self-esteem. Social media is for sharing the most positive aspects of your life. Therefore, its really harmful to compare ourselves to people when they only are sharing what will make them look the best. Şahin, C., & Kumcagiz, H. (2017) study found that “The analysis results yielded a statistically significant negative relationship between social media addiction and self-esteem, but a significant positive relationship between social media addiction and narcissism.” (p. 2136–2155) It seems like