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Social Media on the Brain and Mind

han2206320 1 / -  
Nov 11, 2021   #1

Social Media on the Brain and Mind

As of 2020, there are about 7.7 billion people in the world. As the seconds go on, that number continues to increase as babies are being welcomed to Earth. Of those 7.7 billion people, 4.4 billion are on social media (pewresearch.org). That is more than half of the world's population. The rise of social media began in the early 2000's. It first started off with Myspace and Facebook, then it grew to Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (Ortiz-Ospina, 2019). With technology also on the rise, social media has become accessible to anyone and everyone. Most people have smartphones which allow them to browse the internet and go on social media whenever they please. With that in mind, an average user spends over 2 hours a day on social media (techjury.net). It makes you wonder what effect that has on a human being, living their lives online for friends, family, and strangers to see. There are numerous studies that prove social media has a negative effect on the mind and brain. In order to combat that, there needs to be more exposure and education on the effects that social media has on a person; concluding in spending less time on social media.

Evidence is proving that there is a link between social media and depression. "In several studies, teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 percent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time (Miller). One of the biggest differences in today's children versus in the previous generations is that children back then were not able to spend time online and instead spent time playing outside or interacting with their friends. The connections that you make online are emotionally less satisfying and leave a person feeling socially isolated. Another issue with that is that kids miss out on reading body language and social cues which then affects their ability to socialize in real life (Ehmke). Socializing online causes a deeper sense of isolation that can lead children into feeling depressed.

Fear of missing out, or better known as, FOMO is an online epidemic for children, teenagers, and adults that can also lead to depression. With the accessibility of social media, people are able to see what their friends are doing at every single second. And if a person were to go on Instagram and see a picture of their friends all hanging out, the person may ask themselves a number of questions. They may wonder why they were not invited or make sure that they do not miss another post of their friends. It becomes an addictive game of catch-up that always ends in self-deprecation and insecurity (O'Keeffe, 2011). People are then once again prioritizing online social interactions that leads to further isolation and depression.

Another reason that links social media and depression "is the loss of self-esteem, especially in teenage girls, when they compare themselves negatively with artfully curated images of those who appear to be prettier, thinner, more popular and richer". Again, not only do you now have 24/7 access to your friends and family but you are now able to follow your favorite model or celebrity. Young girls are comparing themselves to people who are able to change their appearances with plastic surgery, photoshop, makeup, and money which most young people are not able to do. It sets an unrealistic standard for young girls. However, it may not even be a famous person, it could be a friend posting the best picture of themselves. The curation of a perfect image may not only make others feel inadequate; it's unhealthy.

Another possible source of depression is that with people spending over an average of 2 hours a day on social media, it leaves less room for healthy physical activity. Exercise has "both a positive chemical effect on your brain reducing stress and improving mood, as well as resulting in lasting positive benefits for the brain and body" (fitnesseducation.edu.au). It has been proven that exercising causes your brain to release happy chemicals called dopamine. Being on social media does cause some sort of dopamine to be released but it is an unhealthy way to get it because it is short lasting and therefore becomes addicting. That little notification that you get or that little ping is addicting but not satisfying.

Some of the ways in which social media use impacts mood could be passive. For instance, one of the most common contributors to depression in teenagers is sleep deprivation. Teenagers and children excessively use their phones and social media. Spending hours at a time on it. And as stated earlier, social media is addicting. "Research shows that 60 percent of adolescents are looking at their phones in the last hour before sleep, and that they get on average an hour less sleep than their peers who don't use their phones before bed (Miller). Sleep deprivation has a costly effect on the brain. Losing sleep makes a person moody and irritable. It can also impair brain functions such as decision-making and concentration (Costandi, 2018).

Social media applications like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are now bombarded with advertisements. Almost after every scroll or video is an ad. The content of the ads nowadays are alcohol related content. "The developmental stage of a child plays a role in the effect of commercials. Young children do not understand the concept of a sales pitch. They tend to believe what they are told and may even assume that they are deprived if they do not have advertised products" (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Not only does it affect children but it also affects adults in the sense that someone may not have even been thinking about drinking alcohol but they then see an alcohol ad and go out to consume some. It can lead to unhealthy habits. Moreover, alcohol is labeled as a depressant and will cause low mood and lethargy.

Finding sources and data that discuss social media and the effects it has on the brain was a challenge. Since social media is new and on the rise, there has not been a lot of data collected on the subject. Social media is only a couple years old especially with the new and popular social media like TikTok who has taken over Generation Z. It is also hard to conduct studies on something that is ever changing and something that affects people of all backgrounds and age groups differently. Nonetheless, there were quite a few updated sources and data about social media and the effects it has on people. There were also articles on ways to combat social media and the effects it causes.

While social media may have some benefits like allowing others to connect with each other, using it too frequently can make people feel increasingly unhappy and isolated. These negative emotional reactions are not only produced due to the social pressure of sharing things with others but also the comparison of material things and lifestyles that these sites promote.

To combat the effects of social media, the main thing is to educate people on what social media really does to your mental health and brain. The next step is to spend less time on your phone. There are ways to set a timer on your phone or on your clock to limit yourself to 30 minutes or 1 hour on social media. You can also find a hobby like journaling or playing a sport to spend your time doing that instead. In conclusion, people have more power over social media than they think. It's up to them.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 12,000 3875  
Nov 12, 2021   #2
The introduction to the topic will be helped if a previous paragraph is presented showing the history of human social interactions leading up to the brith of social media. Without this historical foundation, the current first paragraph lacks a proper background presentation. This current first paragraph is most effective as the second paragraph as it creates an excellent informative launching pad rather than thesis statement. There needs to be a clear introduction paragraph to connect to it.

Avoid using citations or paraphrasing in every paragraph. While this proves heavy research on your part, it avoids showing what you learned, understood, and created an opinion of in the process. These are elements the professor would want to learn about from you and will add to your positive scoring consideration. Balance the essay with opinion presentations and more transition statements to smoothen out the transition from one paragraph to the nest. Specially when changing topic focus.

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