Is Social Media Causing A Public Mental Health Crisis?

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : July 22, 2021

The red flags just don’t stop showing up when talking about social media.

Amidst the debate, many experts have found that the usage of social media has a strong correlation to negative mental health among young people. They have seen an increase in depression among youngsters since 2012 in connection with the excessive use of social media and an increase in the amount of time spent online.

Is Social Media Causing A Public Mental Health Crisis?

Earlier this year, more than a thousand Americans were surveyed by the Reboot Foundation on their social media usage and a disturbing effect on mental health was found.

Is Social Media Causing A Public Mental Health Crisis

All of this points towards how our social media usage has turned into a health crisis for the public. It is imminent that we need to categorize these platforms as cigarettes and alcohol. Age restrictions and warning labels must be attached, and more research must be undertaken on the long-term health effects.

President Joe Biden said that the misinformation that was running rampant on Facebook related to Covid is putting many people’s lives at risk. The explosion of misinformation is a serious problem, but it is not the only thing that threatens public health. The dangers of social media posts can be likened to misinforming people about the benefits of anti-vaccination.

More than half of the people that were surveyed acknowledged that social media heightened the effects of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. They also mentioned that it worsened their low self-esteem and made it much more difficult to concentrate.

What’s shocking is that despite recognizing these detrimental effects, just a third of the surveyed people said that they are willing to limit their usage of social media. This involves deleting or temporarily suspending their accounts.

It is incredible that even though people know the ill-effects of social media, they’re unwilling to change. If you look closely, it seems like just the case with cigarettes and smokers. We must treat it the same way.

Luckily, it is simple to solve with a digital detox. It would be much more effective if it was done on a society-wide scale.

The use of labels can be more effective than it looks at first glance. If every time someone opened Instagram, a label that said that the platform may be hazardous to your mental health existed, the use of the platform would drastically reduce.

There is strong advocacy to dismiss these studies as ‘moral panic’ and compare it to other inventions like the press or the telephone, which had raised several concerns during the time of its being introduced but turned out to be relatively harmless.

We are certainly dealing with a vastly different problem with social media.

It may just be time for the government to consider regulating the creation of social media accounts. The growing research that shows an association between social media and deteriorating mental health only makes a stronger point for the regulation of social media.

The research will definitely provide more insights into social media and its negative effects over the following years. Meanwhile, a lot more action must be taken to reduce the negative effects of social media.

As technology has become increasingly addictive, a digital detox has been gaining popularity. It is essentially a break from screens that have been known to increase individuals’ productivity, help them spend more time with loved ones, and lift moods.

Voluntary breaks are not enough, though. This is attributed to the fact that most people refuse to take them. 

Research has shown that almost 40% of people would even give up their pet or their vehicle before giving up on their social media. 

This is not healthy.

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Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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