12 January 2018
Social media and depression proposal
Over the past few years, social media platforms have grown tremendously, resulting in new applications being created. Social media allows people to connect with one another by sharing content and communicating between each other. The Internet, as well as social media, provides many positive effects. From one point of view, it provides businesses with the ability to market their products to consumers with ease while on the other, it provides society to build relationships with the people in their life that they care about. With positive attributes, come negative ones. Social media platforms can cause issues such as creating a false sense of connection, a lack of privacy, decrease productivity and has potential for cyber-bullying. Most importantly, social media has an overall negative effect on our mental health and the results can be damaging. The main concern is the connection between social media use and depression.
Research suggests that there is a link between spending an extended amount of time on social media and experiencing mental health issues. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that the use of multiple social media platforms is more strongly associated with depression and anxiety among young adults than time spent online. “The analysis showed that those who reported using the most social media sites, seven to eleven, had more than three times the risk of these mental health issues than those who used the least amount zero to two platforms.” (Psychiatric News, January 17, 2017). This is honestly a mind-blowing study published by Psychiatric News. I know for a fact, that the younger generations have at least four or more social media platforms downloaded on their phone. Every one of your peers is three times more likely to experience mental health issues, than those who used zero social media platforms.
Everyone is aware that the internet can be very addictive, but can social media become addicting? A study from Nottingham University set out to determine if the use of social media was addicting. Experts said, “It may be plausible to speak specifically of ‘Facebook Addiction Disorder’…because addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be present in some people who use [social networks] excessively.” (Nottingham, 2017) Addiction and depression go hand in hand, because when you are not feeding you addiction you feel helpless and depressed. Another study was conducted on which it was trying to determine whether Facebook triggers more sadness and less of well-being. The results said, “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive ‘offline’ social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.”(2017) these are all characteristics that can lead to social media users forming depression.
There are many articles that have been released to the public about conditions that could possibly be formed while using social media. A study published December 10th, 2016, found that social media users using multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, ETC.) were associated with depression and anxiety. Brian Primack says, “Other potential problems of using multiple platforms include an increased risk of anxiety in trying to keep up with the rules and culture associated with each one and more opportunity to commit a gaffe or faux pas since attention is divided.” (Psych News, 2017) The traditional way we thought people formed anxiety and depression were not the only ways. We as a society thought people could only form these conditions from comparing themselves to their peers or being cyberbullied, but there are more ways to form these conditions. As we dive deeper and deeper into the human brain we are realizing how detrimental social media can be on us as a user.
Finding a solution to this problem is complex, because nearly everyone has a social media account. One of my solutions I came up with would be to regulate how often a person can access social media. If someone was to regulate social media it would make a tremendous difference, because people would feel less attached to their social media account. I believe the Government should give the social media companies the amount of time the public can spend on it, then it is up to the social media companies to regulate and enforce these new restrictions. People obsess 24/7 about their social media account and that’s one of the main contributors to depression. If this was implemented, I believe we would see less social media driven depression and an increase in face to face interactions. I do not believe this should be implemented as harshly to start, they should decrease the time you are allotted over a period of time, but if someone wanted to seek an increase in the allotted time of social media access they would have the options of community service and donating clothes to goodwill. My second option would be to get rid of social media as a whole. Social media gives its users a ton of positives (Easy communication, access to world news, connections, ETC.) but it also gives negative aspects of social media as well (depression, anxiety, addiction, sadness and jealousy). My last option would be to sign a waiver before signing up for a social media platform. The waiver would say that you are knowingly engaging into something that could possibly cause (depression, anxiety, addiction, sadness and jealousy), and leave it up to the user to make their decisions.
The resistance to these solutions would be vast, from social media users to congressman and women of the United States of America, as well the social media companies themselves would resist this. Because this would dramatically cripple the rise of social media. This would ultimately limit the potential of these companies, because they would have to abide by the laws of the government and enforce them. The only plausible decision would have to be the last option, because we have rights In the United States of America that give us the opportunity to have unlimited access to social media and because we should not take away social media from everyone. We should find ways to strengthen the community within and build up social media. I would agree with the outrage of some of these solutions, but we must be progressive about the problems with social media. I think the first step in the right direction would be a waiver. A waiver meaning you must sign an agreement before creating an account acknowledging the risks that are involved into social media (depression, anxiety and cyberbullying). I do not think this is an end all solution to decreasing social media depression, but a step in the right direction to get social media users aware of the risks they are taking. Once people become aware with what is going on, then that is when real change can occur within the community.
To conclude, social media platforms are a blessing and a curse. When used properly you can have arguably a wonderful time, but when used improperly you can fall into some trouble. I believe that as a community we have to come up with a solid solution to this epidemic. I have provided three solutions that I truly believe that would dramatically decrease social media depression, only knowing that one out of the three would be implemented. It is about time that we start hearing about the dark truths of social media on television. We as a nation need to be proactively searching for ways to decrease social media based depression, because the longer we wait for a solution the harder it will be to fix. Everyday another person is buying a smartphone and downloading their favorite social media platforms, how long before this person gets addicted and forms depression?
“Using Many Social Media Platforms Linked With Depression, Anxiety Risk.” Psychiatrics News, psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2017.1b16.
The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR). “How to Avoid Depression Induced by Social Media.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 12 Jan. 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evidence-based-living/201701/how-avoid-depression-induced-social-media.
“Teens Social Media = Depression? Is Social Media Affecting Mental Health?” PsyCom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986, www.psycom.net/depression-teens-social-media.
“Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health.” Time, Time, time.com/4793331/instagram-social-media-mental-health/.
Walton, Alice G. “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 Oct. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#4fbaabd62e5a.
Vitelli, Romeo. “When Social Media Sparks Depression.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 21 Sept. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201609/when-social-media-sparks-depression.
Thorbecke, Catherine. “How social media ‘pressure’ and depression may be linked in teens.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/social-media-pressure-depression-linked-teens/story?id=48976063.
“We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones.” Time, Time, time.com/4974863/kids-smartphones-depression/.