It has been researched by media psychology professionals that total time spent on social media in our day-to-day lives has a huge impact on our psychological well-being and daily lives. While only 5% of adults were aware of social media platforms in the US in 2005, the number has grown to 70% in the current world (Allen, 2019). There has been a steep rise in the number of people using Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms meant for social media- and the main concern among the clinicians, parents, teachers and policymakers is the time spent on these platforms. The time spent on social media results in reducing the face-to-face time known as the social displacement; and negatively impacts the development and health of an individual as it may lead to social anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, and exposure to content not suitable for good development.
Social Media Platforms
The enhancement in media platforms meant for social interactions and their quick adoption by adolescents, teenagers, and youth directly indicates the social media tools’ compelling nature such as Snapchat and Instagram. In a recent survey reported by Pew Research Center Survey, it has been reported that 76% of teenagers use social media (Uhls & Ellison, 2017). These platforms are easily available on the internet and can be accessed via smartphones or apps.
Advantages of Social Media
It has been found in extensive research that social media is used by youth in many important development things such as peer engagement, aspirational development, and identity development. The online environment these days reinforce and complement the offline processes, practices, and relationships (Allen, 2019).
In the new studies of adults and literature on adolescents and social media, it is proved that a good relationship exists between social media’s time and enhanced social support, self-disclosure, self-identity exploration, social capital, and self-esteem. All the above-mentioned processes are important to identity development and healthy growth. It is clear in continuous findings that social media is used by adolescents to maintain and develop a friendship. More than 90% of teenagers use social media to connect to old friends while two-thirds of them use it to make new friends. Thus, social media supports approval and peer support during the stages of development (Uhls & Ellison, 2017).
Social Media’s Costs
Although there are some advantages of social media as stated above, it negatively impacts the development and health of individuals as well as their psychological well-being. One specific concern about social media is that more time spent on screen via social media takes away face-to-face time known as social displacement. Meaningful interaction with our close friends and partners is directly displaced by social media and we interact with them via different modalities such as in-person time, phone calls, emails, and texts (Allen, 2019).
It has been reported by (Allen, 2019) that adolescents and youth who spent the minimum time in direct face-to-face interactions and the maximum time on social media reported loneliness the most. (Uhls & Ellison, 2017) states that though it has been reported by most of the adolescents that social media brought positivity to their lives, many negative results have also been found in the literature such as social anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, and exposure to content not suitable for good development.
In both academic and press research, cyberbullying has got big attention. It has been reported that cyberbullying has been found to have more depressive and aggressive symptoms in comparison to traditional bullying. This may be because of the enduring and public nature of things posted online. Social media also leads to alterations in sleeping patterns for adolescents, which ultimately leads to depression. Children keep on watching mobiles during the night resulting in a lack of sleep which is closely associated with issues at school, loss of memory, depressive symptoms, crashes of motor vehicles, and other critical problems (Uhls & Ellison, 2017).
As reported in a study by (Uhls & Ellison, 2017), 54% of social media profiles of people 18 years of age found high-risk behavior like violence, substance abuse, or sexual activity. Additionally, subjection to unsuitable content and the ability to show and get acceptance through peer authentication of risky behavior (like smoking, drinking) may prompt youth and adolescents to make incorrect decisions about what should be shared on social media platforms.
Last but not the least, social media platforms are used by many companies for selling and advertising. Advertisers for several unhealthy products, alcohol, and sexual content easily approach adolescents and children via social media platforms.
To conclude, the time spent on social media results in reducing the face-to-face time known as the social displacement; and negatively impacts the development and health of an individual as it may lead to social anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, and exposure to content not suitable for good development. Though there are some advantages of social media platforms as well such as peer engagement, aspirational development, and identity development, their demerits clearly surpass the merits as they hamper the development and health of individuals as well as their psychological well-being. Therefore, parents and children should develop an awareness of the use of social media and programs should be funded that encourage digital literacy.
Allen, S. (2019). Social media’s growing impact on our lives. New York: APA.org.
Uhls, Y., & Ellison, N. (2017). Benefits and Costs of Social Media in Adolescence. Pediatrics , 68-70.