What would we do without our hourly Instagram update or our lunchtime flick through Facebook?
Social media is arguably the most popular phenomenon of modern day life. There are so many forms – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter… even LinkedIn is a social alternative to job searching. Later generations will not remember a life without social apps and wont have lived in a world without laptops or the internet.
In many ways this modern obsession is a positive, it allows you to keep in touch with friends and family, it links people from other sides of the world and conversation is always just a tap, click or swipe away.
However, there is a darker side; what happens when you care more about how many likes your latest photo got than your job, studies or real life? Or when you feel more lonely after browsing through your news feed rather than more connected?
It can pave the way for bullying, ridicule and just make the user feel worse about their own life or problems.
Social media, of late, is the crux of many scientific studies. A great deal of intellectuals claim that excessive use of Instagram, twitter and Facebook harms the user’s mental health considerably; especially if they are more impressionable children or young people.
The Office For National Statistics put forward findings in 2015, showing that over 56 per cent of children spent more than three hours on social media a day and that they were 27 per cent more likely to develop mental health problems in later life. Children who spent less than three hours glued to screens were shown to have that risk significantly reduced to 12 per cent.
Since then, multiple studies and information have argued the negative impact of social media. It creates a false world, where followers see a snippet of another user’s life and assume that their life is always that lavish and exciting.
It creates a competition between users, who can receive the most likes, followers and popularity. It also takes up a lot of our time.
When did you last take a walk and admire your surroundings instead of swipe through your news feed or Snap chat that lunchtime latte?
We have indeed developed into a world where our phones are always glued to our hands, where we document everything on Facebook and where we cannot get away from constant, updating social media.
According to an article published on the NHS official website, Instagram is ranked the worst of the social apps due to its excessive toll on user’s mental health. The study took into account the opinions of 1,479 young people and asked them what apps they thought most affected their levels of anxiety, depression and unhappiness. The participants also mentioned that bullying was rife in the popular apps and that a lot of the negative feelings came from fear of missing out or not having as successful lives as their ‘friends’.
However, the study which was published by Royal Society for Public Health, did note that there were some positive aspects; keeping in touch Is a lot easier in the digital age and some young people say that they feel a heightened sense of community and self-identity.
So, like with practically anything, there are both good and bad points, but it can’t possibly harm you to choose to read a chapter of a book or take a walk around your local park once in a while instead of discovering which flavour syrup someone you used to go to school with had in their coffee this morning.