Modern day technology is capable of so many things that the previous generation may have dreamt of. Social networks are capable of bridging gaps when it comes to communication. Many families with relatives abroad have turned Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay connected and in the loop. However, a recent study has revealed that social media has one important disadvantage: it has been found to be capable of harming the mental health of young people.
Through a project titled “#StatusOfMind,” U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Young Health Movement conducted a research to find out how social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, can affect mental health.
According to the research published, Instagram claimed the top spot as the social network with the most negative effect on the young generation’s mental health. Snapchat and Facebook followed close, whereas YouTube and Twitter ranked as the most positive. The research analyzed data collected from 1,479 participants, with an age range of 14 to 24 years old. They were made to take a survey meant to measure 14 criteria that looks at general well-being based on several factors, such as loneliness and self-identity.
“Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health,” said RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer, in a statement.
Given that Instagram and Snapchat are both geared toward sharing visual representations of a user’s current interests, hobbies, and likes, the very nature of the social media networks mentioned instill a sense of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression to young people who view them. Meanwhile, Twitter is a perfect avenue for online bullying, which has been proven to affect mental health.
Aside from the alarming negative relationship between social media and mental health, the participants also cited its positive benefits. It provides them an avenue for self-expression and emotional support that can help alleviate some of the symptoms that lead to mental illnesses. Furthermore, the results of the research are meant to help educators and specialists understand how they can help children develop good coping mechanisms that can protect them from the negative effects of social media.