Social Media and Mental Health

A little over ten years ago, the first iPhone came out, a catalyst for the technologically diverse world we live in now. It started a wave of user-friendly products that have become widespread throughout the world. The Internet has allowed us to find an answer to almost anything; social media has allowed us to communicate with people around the world with only the click of a button.

However, with the growing Internet, social media has become a primary source of anxiety and pressure for teenagers. Nowadays, teens consume an average of nine hours on media a day, scrolling through their feed and being exposed to the ‘perfect’ lives of various celebrities or friends. But, the media skews our perception. The pictures seen online are specifically chosen from hundreds, layered on with filters, and edited with Photoshop until the original image is almost unrecognizable. We are exposed to only the best parts of people while an individual’s true nature goes by unseen by the general public.

In addition to insecurity, social media breeds negativity. Without the threat of consequences, the increase of communication has made it more common for bullying to occur with people hiding in comfort behind their computer screens. Comments underneath photos are filled with crude words of hatred. They express distaste for individuals, going as far to wish harm upon others just for stating their opinion. Political posts have become battlegrounds for conservatives and liberals to fight against one another, rationalism escaping the two groups as they argue for the sake of arguing.

Humanity itself has become harsher as we increasingly hold our phones and computers as shields against true punishment and a sword against those we do not agree with. The mentality of today’s generation is one centered around the perception of self. However, this mentality is oftentimes associated with the rising suicides rate among teens. While not a direct cause, social media oftentimes is a contributing factor towards an individual’s mental health. One of my most difficult struggles in high school was overcoming my best friend’s committed suicide. I entered a period of intense grief, which prevented me from focusing on anything else, other than her life and my loss, which led to a decrease in my grades. Over time, and with significant group counseling and peer support, I was able to move forward and find renewed purpose. However, her death still holds a significant place in my history and has impacted the way in which I have led my life. It has allowed me to greatly appreciate the importance of mental health and the way in which we deal with it.

The growing issue of both social media and mental illness affects the upcoming generation severely. While my experiences have allowed me to become more aware of the problem, they have also instilled in me an importance to broker a change in the mentality of those around us. It’s an issue that as a society we must look into fixing in order to benefit all of us. While removing ourselves from social media is both not possible and illogical, we should look into either regulating or just being careful in the time we spend scrolling.

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