I had to write a research essay on the effects of mental health. I need a peer edit done with a focus of corrections and I need three categories in which my essay could be stronger.
The Detrimental Effects of Social Media
The beep of a notification from a phone is a constant roadblock for the brain. Although social media provides various ways of communication, social media is extremely detrimental in adolescents lives. Social media causes a distraction to students, changing their day-to-day interactions, along with difficulties arising in their mental health. 4.48 billion people use social media while adolescentes spend nearly nine hours a day on various social media platforms. Social media has a deleterious impact on adolescent's mental health through increasing depression and anxiety, enhancing opportunities for low self-esteem, and eliminating person-to-person interactions.
Social media increases the risk for depression in adolescents' daily lives. Many factors can lead to depression such as self doubts and low self esteem. Many studies show that, "teenagers and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms were shown to have a substantially higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time" (Miller). As more time is spent consuming what the media produces, the risk for depression goes up because of the detrimental effects social media has on mental health. Self doubts can lead to various extremities of depression and disorders that can be life long, as well as life changing. Always seeing the happiest moments and positive posts of peers on social media can cause negative self-talk and thoughts that lead to a negative feeling about one's personal life and accomplishments. As social media becomes more popular, the depression numbers have increased immensely.
Social media not only increases the risk for depression, but it also plays an impact in anxiety and the fear of missing out in adolescent's lives. Studies have proven that social media "increases FOMO and feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, and isolation. In turn, these feelings negatively affect your mood and worsen symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress" (Robinson). Spending too much time on social media platforms can make teenagers feel more lonely and isolated along with negative feelings about themselves, creating a higher risk for mental health problems. Teenagers are always looking at their phones viewing what others are posting and doing. Oftentimes teenagers are wishing they got invited to certain parties or activities causing a feeling of missing out on the fun. Teenagers are sometimes not willing to participate in activities or family gatherings because they are content with their devices. This overall feeling of missing out and feeling anxious of what others are doing or where they are is exhausting to the well being of teenagers, having a toll on their mental health.
Social media has been proven to affect the brain in ways that have everlasting effects on one's well being. Social media causes many changes in attention as beeps or ringing can distract from a conversation or simple task. Studies have shown that higher users of social media perform worse on cognitive tests than those who limit their time on social media. Spending time on social media can change the structure of one's brain along with how it processes information. The NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center conducted a study that proves, "heavy social media use is linked with memory deficits, especially in your transactive memory" (Lewis). Transactive memory is associated with what information is important to store and what information can be outsourced. Not having a proper transactive memory can affect the way one performs on important tasks such as jobs or school. It is important to recognize the effects of social media as it has many detrimental effects to one's health.
Adolescent's choice of spending countless hours on social media affects the amount and quality of sleep they get. "The blue light emitted from electronic screens has the greatest impact on sleep. Blue light stimulates part of the brain that makes us feel alert, leaving us energized at bedtime when we should be winding down" (Newson). Oftentimes the most time spent on social media is when teenagers are laying in their bed trying to unwind. Little do they know, looking at different platforms is only making it harder for them to sleep because of the blue light being emitted. The same study shows, "Approximately 21% of adults say they wake up to check their phone during the night, leaving them at an even higher risk of losing sleep and developing a sleeping disorder like insomnia" (Newsom). As adolescents and adults continue to partake in social media before bed, the risk for sleep disorders and decrease in amount of sleep increases. Sleep is a very important factor in mental health as it helps restore and repair the body and when it is limited the body struggles to perform daily activities.
The amount of time consumed on social media increases obesity in adolescents. Since social media is a distraction to physical activity and sleep, the risk of obesity increases. Studies show, "Use of television and other screen devices is associated with risk of obesity through a variety of mechanisms, including insufficient physical activity and increased calorie intake while using screen devices" (Cha). While the use of devices after school and after activities distracts teenagers, their portion sizes tend to be bigger. Their diet and food choices are often unhealthy and poor quality. Obesity leads to low self esteem which affects an adolescents mental health throughout their life as they compare their image to the way their peers look.
A main source of low self esteem and negative body image is a consequence of social media. Social media produces an unrealistic life because people only post what they want others to see. A study by researchers at Penn State University states, "viewing others' selfies lowered self-esteem because users compare themselves to photos of people looking their happiests" (Brown). Social standards are unreasonable for adolescents because there is still growing up that needs to be done, along with a lot of life experiences needing to be had. Social standards have become such a normal aspect of life, creating a platform of insecurities in adolescents. Many aspects can contribute to insecurities such as past experiences but the main contributor in an adolescents life is social media.
One of the contributing factors to social standards in an adolescent's life is the ability to edit photos. People are developing filters so that all the pictures have the same tones to make their social feeds more aesthetically pleasing. There are also filters to take away acne or blemishes to create a more perfect look that creates unattainable social standards. Along with filters, there are editing tools to stretch body parts to create a more lean look, even making people seem taller. When teenagers are viewing these edited pictures, oftentimes it's not disclosed that filters and editing has been applied to the photos changing the photos and appearances in drastic ways.
Due to the fact that social media is an easy tool for communication in an adolescent's life, social media limits person-to-person communication and interaction. Person-to-person is a key aspect in adolescents' lives because it provides life skills that are necessary for life. Research shows that human interaction is key to mental health as it provides a sense of safety and belonging to humans. An article written by Kelly Burch states, "Teens have been comparing themselves to their peers and have been deprioritizing in-person communication". Social media platforms allow different ways for teenagers to communicate making it easy to not see the value of in-person interaction.
Teenagers are missing out on valuable opportunities to learn communication skills because so much of their communication is done online. For example, teenagers no longer have to have the hard in-person interactions such as break-ups in relationships because much of the communication is done through social media apps. These valuable hard conversations teach how to communicate effectively later when confronted with face-to-face interactions such as job interviews or college-admission interviews. The hard in-person conversations such as break-ups or communicating with a teacher oftentime shape the teenager's ability to communicate later and the opportunities they may or may not get because of their ability to communicate. Although communication skills can be taught, there is no replacement for the value of face-to-face interaction and thinking on the spot.
Social media destroys creativity in adolescents' lives. There are apps such as Pinterest that allows anyone to search up a craft or idea that they are wanting to do and hundreds of items come up relating to that search. This allows ideas to be copied, decreasing creativity in the brain. Pinterest also impedes creativity because as one goes searching on Pinterest, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and inadequate at the types of projects on Pinterest. This often discourages a person's self esteem on their creativity. The amount of ideas on social media creates unrealistic standards to one's personal level of creativity.
In todays society, suicide rates are rapidly increasing, one of those factors being social media. Suicide rates have increased exponentially the past few years, having an average of 132 suicides a day. A research done by Brigham Young University states, "As teens' use of social media has grown over the past decade, so too has the suicide rate among younger people, with suicide being the second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34". Not only does social media have an effect on mental health, it takes mental health difficulties to the extremity as seen in the suicide statistics. Girls have been proven to have a higher risk of suicide from the effect so social media. A study shows, "We found that girls who started using social media at two or three hours a day or more at age 13, and then increased [that use] over time, had the highest levels of suicide risk in emerging adulthood" (Moses). Girls tend to have a higher risk because they are harder on themselves when it comes to body image and perfectionism. Comparing one's life to that of their peers' lives creates a sense of jealousy and a sense of change to better themselves for society's eyes.
Another dangerous aspect of social media is the online dating platforms. Although some people meet their spouses on these apps, many people come across danger when using these apps. A recent case of nineteen year-old Maddie Allen, shows how dangerous online dating can be because the users really don't know who is behind the device. Very few of these dating apps do background checks or vet the users to create a safe and protected platform. Maddie Allen was talking to a thirty-nine year old man she met in a chat group online, she agreed to meet up with him and was kidnapped after getting into his car. When authorities found her she was, "being held in a coal storage area of the home's basement and was naked and completely covered in coal" (Burke). As more investigation happened, Maddie had been sexually assaulted on many different occasions and threatened. The dangers of these apps create a risk of life changing experience which affects mental health issues.
Adolescents and young kids are receiving devices at a young age while looking at various websites and social media platforms. There are many advertisements, videos, or pictures that aren't age appropriate for an adolescent's eyes. Social media introduces teenagers and pre-teenagers to a world unknown to them, causing many questions and curiosities. Questions and curiosities can lead to anxiety and depression as the more mature content with their limited understanding can cause frustration and confusion. Oftentimes they're hesitant to ask their parents because the content causes shame. This content can lead them down a path of inappropriate content without their parents or guardian knowing. Inappropriate content is a detrimental effect of the use of social media as there are so many different ways to advertise that content and get the attention of the adolescent to further their curiosity.
Excessive use of social media causes an addiction that affects every aspect of an adolescent's life. "59% of parents say that their teens are addicted to their mobile devices'' (Shepherds Hill Academy). The addiction and feeling of always needing to be online and up to date on their peer's lives is taking over teenagers' lives causing a major distraction. Scientists say that "research is zeroing in on the effects of social media addiction on the teenage brain. Proper treatment is key" (Monroe). Teenagrs feel that without social media, they have no way to keep up-to-date on their friends' lives. The addiction of social media and technology in general is taking over in young kids' lives all the way through adulthood.
Addiction and distractions oftentime go hand in hand. Social media can be extremely distracting. Most social media platforms are set up so that there is always something new to look at or scroll through. The unlimited content provides an easy distraction that takes one away from pending tasks such as homework, chores, or things that are productive. Oftentimes an adolescent picking up their phone for a quick break can waste unlimited time. As they scroll through unlimited content there for them to consume, they lose track of valuable time. Social media provides the perfect distraction as new content is always being uploaded.
Social media has been known to drive individuals to a more extreme content. A recent study done by The Wall Street Journal, created bots and gave them interests, making a TikTok account for each bot. In the study, within 45 minutes the algorithm on TikTok had found the interest of the bots, showing more content that was in the interest group of the bot. Gradually, the app started showing more content within the interest of the individual but adding more extreme and shocking content. For example, someone who was searching for healthy recipes was gradually given content showing eating disorders and body image problems. The researchers stated, "So basically the algorithm is detecting that this depressing content is useful to create engagement and pushes depressing content. So the algorithm is pushing people towards more and more extreme content, so it can push them towards more and more watch time" (Wall Street Journal). Social media's algorithms have ways to push the users to watch and view the extreme in order to keep their interest on the platform. As more and more videos are watched, social media plays a bigger role on mental health as videos such as depression and suicide extremities are being shown to viewers.
In the same study of algorithms, it discussed the lack of regulation on videos. Individuals can post content according to their liking regardless of accuracy or validity of the content. There is not a process to fact check the information that is being shared on the media platforms. This can create a dynamic of anxiety and fear. For example, a bot that was interested in politics was led to the extremity of QaNon and conspiracy theories. The algorithms take a simple interest and leads the individual viewer to content that may or may not be fact because there is no process to verify content. Leading viewers to the extremity of their interests takes a toll on one's mental health.
Social media has a detrimental effect on adolescents mental health through dangers, depresion, anxiety, and increase risk of low self-esteem along with an increase in suicide rates. Social media has taken over in society and interfered with many adolescents' lives causing problems to arise, as well as, dangerous situations. As adolescents logon to their social media platforms, they are removed out of the real human interaction world and placed into the virtual dimension. Society needs to be aware that social media and the time spent on the internet can change not only your life but the way the brain functions.