People often view social media as a way to stay in touch with others, as well as a way to be informed with what is happening in our world. But social media is more than this: it is a social network that has been causing depression and anxiety within young adults as well as negative impacts on our brain. Most cases of depression and anxiety within young adults are because of social media. And if these issues are occurring now, I cannot begin to imagine what issues will start occurring later as social networking continues to expand. In this blog post, then, I will evaluate the negative consequences of social media by using two online editorials that help back up my reasonings. One article is called, “Is social media ruining our kids?” written by Sreedhar Potarazu. In this article, Potarazu elaborates on how social media is having a negative impact on children. Meanwhile, a second article called, “Teens: This is how social media affects your brain” written by Susie East, emphasizes that social media has had a negative impact on our brain. I argue that even though it is true that social media has had a negative impact on our society, today’s generation can handle these changes but those in older generations may not be able to.
The negative impact of social media has caused an increase of depression and anxiety within teens and young adults. Potarazu puts this theory into numbers by providing the following statistics, “The 2014 National College Health Assessment, a survey of nearly 80,000 college students throughout the United States, found that 54% of students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past 12 months and that 32.6% “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” during the same period. The study also found that 6.4% had “intentionally, cut, burned, bruised or otherwise injured” themselves, that 8.1% had seriously considered suicide and that 1.3% had attempted suicide.” These statistics are utterly horrifying and portrays what most teens go through daily, quite accurately. In my opinion, the increase of depression and anxiety is because social media is has made staying in touch with people, way too easy. Social media is a good way to stay in touch with people, but sometimes this easy access is not beneficial. We now know what our friends are up to, which means we know whether we were left out of a group gathering. This can make one feel left out, lonely, and rejected. I can personally vouch for these feelings because I have been there. If these feelings or posts keep reappearing, these feelings may turn into something more serious. In addition, social media gives us the ability to compare our lives to the ones we see on social media platforms. A person’s perfect lifestyle on social media, makes us feel insecure about our own lifestyle. This can result in us becoming discontent with our own lifestyle. And once again, if these feelings persist, depression and anxiety might occur. If we would just keep in mind that no one posts the ugly side of their life onto social media, we might see a decrease in depression and anxiety within young adults. But this mentality is hard to adopt when these posts are constantly being thrown in your face.
Our brain’s development has also been negatively affected because of social media. The most noticeable change is our brain’s plasticity, the area where it grows and changes. As East herself said it, “For example, one study showed that the white matter in an adults’ brains changed as they learned how to juggle over a period of several months. “They found that if you scan [the brains of] adults before they learn how to juggle, and then three months later, you can see changes in the brain structure,” says Dumontheil. Time spent on social media could, therefore, also cause the brain to change and grow.” Here, East provides an example of how our brain reacts when it is introduced to something new. The something new in this scenario is learning how to juggle. When a person learned how to juggle, changes within the brain occurred. At the same time, this could also be applied to social media. Our brain has changed to function around the world of social media. Before, it had time to grow and adjust. But now it has had to adjust in an instant. As Potarazu puts it, “Children are growing up now in a world where they expect immediate response, gratification and notification. Their brains no longer have time to evolve; they must adapt to change in an instant, and the results are distressing. The difficulties of growing up have never been so public.” Everything must be quick and fast. We expect things to be quick and fast and so we also expect our brain to catch on quickly. But this might not be a huge issue. Both Potarazu and East fail to mention that our brain’s capacity is different from those of our ancestors. With our current world being engulfed with social media, those who are born within this generation are so used to social media being a part of their life, their brain has already adjusted to social media. Whereas, the brains of older generations are not accustomed to this form of technology, so their brains are the ones that are having to adjust to the changes. But nevertheless, these changes are occurring and will continue to occur within our brain as long as social media is around.
In conclusion, there is a resolution to help this situation get better and not worse. Potarazu provides four remedies that he thinks will help with our children’s addiction to social media. I am only in agreement with one of his solutions. Not that the other three are not useful, but I think the following solution is the easiest to apply to our own life. He suggests. “Create more structured forms of social media that prevent children from going “all in” at the start…A graduated mechanism that enables young people to ease into social technology might help prevent the abuses that lead to anxiety and depression.” Here, if our children would have more limitations when they could access the internet, we might start seeing a decrease in depression and anxiety. The same thing applies to adults, children are not the only ones who are addicted to social media. So, in short, everyone needs to be more conscious of how much they are on social media platforms. The less we are on social media, the less we are bombarded of other people’s life and the less stress we put on our brains. With being on social media less, we can then be more present with our own life.