Thursday 18 July 2019

Social Media Contributing to Mental Health Problems

Earlier this week I a lost a friend on social media after a disagreement, which I believe was based more on a misunderstanding than anything else. I think one problem with social media is that it is simply more impersonal than a face-to-face chat, and there is more chance of a misunderstanding when you can't see people's faces as they talk or hear their tone of voice.

While I was sad to lose a friend, a new study has found that a fifth of adults in Britain who have used social media in the past 12 months have experienced mental health issues directly as a result of using it.

The research, which was carried out by well-being brand Soul Analyse, and polled online by YouGov in June 2019, looked at the impact social media is having on people's mental health. Just over 2,000 British adults - 937 men and 1,067 women - were asked about their social media behaviour, and feelings surrounding it.

The study revealed that 20 per cent of adults feel depressed or anxious when using social media platforms. When looking at different age ranges, the results indicate younger people are more at risk of being negatively affected. More than three in ten 18-24-year-olds said they felt anxious or depressed when using social platforms, and more than half said that social media makes them more likely to notice their flaws.

I suspect the survey was concentrating more on social media that involves a lot of selfies, rather than simple text-only chats, as the survey found a correlation between those who use image filters and those who experience mental health issues. Of the people who said they felt anxious or depressed, 34 per cent of those said they filter photos of themselves. When looking at people who use image filters when posting photos of themselves, just 15 per cent stated they felt empowered when using social media.

Stephanie Dunleavy, co-founder of Soul Analyse, said: "With the invasion of filters, the pictures we see online are not representative of reality and it can be difficult to distinguish between what's real and what's not. This is no doubt causing body image issues, especially among young people.

She added: "The research shows that people are turning to filters to change the way they look but instead of fixing the problem, this is just going to give them more unrealistic standards to live up to. I believe the answer lies in changing the way we feel about ourselves through self-acceptance, rather than changing the way our body looks."

I think this is also true on pagan social media groups. I've recently noticed a few posts by people saying they felt that they didn't look pagan enough. That is, of course, silly, as anyone can be a pagan. A few groups have spotted the trend and tried to counter that by inviting people to share selfies showing that pagans can be any age, any ethnicity and any gender. They can wear any clothing they like and have a body of any shape or size. Being pagan is about what you believe, not how you look.

Time Spent Online
When looking at how much time people dedicate to social media, there is a link between time spent online and happiness. Of the people who spend six to ten hours a week viewing other people’s content online, 41 per cent reported being happy, compared to 33 per cent of those who spend 11-15 hours and 30 per cent of those who spend 16-20 hours.

From my own experiences, I know I am happier overall when I take a break from social media. A couple of years ago I made an effort to cut back my time on social media, and instead spend my breaks using a meditative colouring in book. I really noticed a difference in my stress levels and I probably ought to go back to doing that.

When analysing different social media channels, the survey found that SnapChat is the biggest culprit for negatively affecting the way people feel about themselves. More than a third of respondents who use the multimedia messaging app say they feel less confident as a result of using social media. Instagram was not far behind with 28 per cent, Twitter 24 per cent, whereas Facebook was 21 per cent.

Dunleavy said: "The survey results provide a snapshot view of how harmful social media can be. We have to acknowledge the fact that these hugely popular platforms are potentially very damaging to people's mental health."

But what do you think?  Do leave a comment.

Links and previous related posts


FreeDragon said...

One of the reasons social media makes feel bad about ourselves is that we usually see the best of someone's life- their accomplishments, achievements, what makes them happy, etc. All carefully edited for maximum effect, and we compare that to our whole life. We feel jealous of vacation photos but we never see how many long hours were put in. We envy perfect couple photos but don't see how often they argue. We see the top 1% happy moments and think that is the person's entire life. We compare that to everything in our own lives, the stressful commute to a dead end job, the 14 hour days, the struggle to balance work and family, the guilt we feel at neglecting ourselves, and of course it doesn't add up. It makes us feel inadequate.

Badwitch said...

FreeDragon - I agree!

Anonymous said...

I also agree , those points are really well made. We are what we are and we do what we do, beating ourselves up about it does not help, and as FreeDragon says we don't really know what is really going on in other peoples lives or in their minds.