There is no question that there has been growing popularity in the use of social media over the past several years. The all-too-common discontent expressed about kids always being on their phones has grossly contributed to the negative stereotypes associated with those in Generation Z.* These all too common remarks are a central force in the development of the increasing disapproval of today’s modern culture and its members.
Though these stereotypes are often misguided and are vast overgeneralizations of the 61 million people that make this young generation, it has, however, brought the topic of social media and its effects to the forefront of national discussion. Growing questions of whether or not social media is harmful to a person’s mental health have been a topic of discussion I have had with many of my friends and I have heard a wide range of opinions about.
Many of the negative effects associated with social media are rooted in mental and emotional health issues. There have been a number of studies that have shown that higher usage of social media is correlated to increased feelings of loneliness and anxiety in an individual. Though these studies do not show direct causation between social media use and emotional health, it, however, should still be taken into consideration when discussing the negative implications social media can have. I have seen many of my peers develop lower self-esteem and more negative self-images due to their use of social media. Most of this stems from the fact that many people only post the positive things that happen in their life, very rarely will they show anything other than favorable; this hence creates a more idealized and perfect version of themselves to share with the rest of the world. This further cultivates an air of comparison that can be detrimental to one’s emotional health.
There are, however, positive effects of social media that should also be taken into account. Now more than ever, social media has started to become an influential platform for political activism that has brought more awareness for current events and subsequently has promoted more citizen participation in social justice causes. Furthermore, social media provides a way to stay connected and in contact with friends and family that live in various parts of the world. It even serves as a means for people to express themselves in new and creative ways; whether it be showcasing drawings, music, or photography social media provides a way to showcase one’s artistic abilities to a much wider audience than ever before. These are just a few of the many positive effects social media can have that shouldn’t be overlooked when discussing its influence in today’s world.
So with all this being said, should you use social media? Frankly, I cannot answer this question for you. Each person is affected by social media in vastly different ways. Having a discussion, however, on its implications in today’s world is a good start to develop a more informed opinion on the subject. Because in the end, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself what is best for you.
* People born after 1996 and up until about 2012