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Is social media bad for our health?

Posted by Kiran Saini on 25th May 2017

This blog has been written by our new Account Executive, William Baxter-Hughes…

We as humans are highly-social beings and use our communication skills to create and strengthen relationships, whether it be with family members, friends or colleagues.

The way in which we do so nowadays has changed dramatically from the years of the “wireless” and pigeon mail. The meteoric rise of the internet and social media being some of the main, if not the sole, culprits for this. It has become incredibly easy for us to contact anyone, anywhere, at any time (well most of the time) with the various social media platforms available to us and a steady connection to the internet.

So, with the constant ability and need to stay “connected” and keep in the loop with current affairs and social trends, how could that possibly be a bad thing in general, let alone be a bad thing for one’s mental wellbeing? Let’s go behind the screens and see what’s going on.

In this social media age in which we live, it’s incredibly apparent how heavily reliant we are on wanting to share our experiences with…. EVERYONE. No matter what the situation, whether it is going to the gym, catching up with friends or celebrating achievements (such as the birth of a first-born child), many of us conjure this subconscious feeling or need to promote ourselves through the many avenues of social media available to us, with the press of a button for a quick photo or status update.

But this constant need for approval through the medium of likes is proving to cause more problems than good.

A study conducted by the Royal Society For Public Health, looking at the impact of social media on young people’s health, highlights platforms such as Instagram (ranked number one) and snapchat as some of the worst influencers for mental health issues within 14-24 year olds.

The survey asked more than 1,400 young people to score each platform based on the level of anxiety and loneliness they endure after using them. The findings are very alarming to say the least.

Today, 91 per cent of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social media. In the 25 years since the introduction of mainstream internet access, the rates of anxiety and depression have increased by 70 per cent. Disturbingly, social media has a direct correlation with the increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep.

It’s far too easy for us to scroll through social media all day looking at idyllic locations, delightful spreads, as well as flawless bodies, and think it’s the norm. It’s far from it. By adopting this rationale, we have developed a social norm of constantly battling with ourselves and others on often un-level and totally unrealistic playing fields.

Ironically, social media has in many ways made us less social and more isolated. Yet we are discovering more and more young people finding it increasingly difficult to both mentally and physically switch off. Some are also unable to detach from their online personas/lifestyles that in many cases are so far removed from reality.

I think it’s incredibly prudent for us all to pull our electronic devices away from our faces and actually be social and less reliant on media platforms. We need to immerse ourselves in what and who is in front of us and not be concerned with what might make us look good in the eyes of “fans” in exchange for likes.

Don’t get me wrong, social media has its places and benefits and I am absolutely all for a good meme and an amusing video made by someone with way too much time on their hands. B I think the stats speak for themselves. Social media is proving to be a bit of a pandemic and it’s claimed by some to be as addictive as alcohol and cigarettes.

And that’s enough internet for today me thinks. * two pints emoji *

Photo credit.

Kiran Saini

With a degree in Communication and Media Studies from Brunel University, Kiran has gained invaluable experience of the media industry following her internships with a magazine publishing company based in London and an entertainment PR agency in Richmond. Her most recent internship, however, was with Wildfire where she got a real taste for tech PR. Her passion for media coupled with her new found interest in tech helped her secure a permanent position at Wildfire in January 2016.