expository essay topics

expository essay topics

Exploring the Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

1. Introduction to Social Media and its Pervasive Influence

Social media includes various online technologies and practices that fall into one of the domains of “social sharing, communication, content production, and protection.” Websites and applications dedicated to various social media allow users to share messages, photos, videos, comments, chat, blogs, podcasts, for photos, opinions, or personal networking. Platforms for these actions often build on the basis of user-generated content, and they blend the interaction of users with each other. This type of service can shrink distances and allow people to connect on both a personal and professional level. Social media has severe implications for many stakeholders due to the proliferation of these platforms over the last couple of decades. In the US, 81 percent of teenagers aged 13 to 17, which equates to 30 million people, use social messaging apps like WhatsApp or Kik. About 7 in 10 Americans use the majority of social groups on a daily basis. In this world, with so many people genuinely embracing social media’s unwavering influence, is it time to think about any of its detrimental effects?

As a new medium of communication, social media has a pervasive impact on individuals and organizations alike. According to the data from Pew Research Center (2019), of the U.S. adults surveyed, 72 percent report that they use Facebook; 73 percent say they use YouTube; 37 percent indicate that they use Instagram; 27 percent claim to use Pinterest; and 22 percent use Twitter. Around half of the adults who use social media say that they access it more than once a day. Among the younger adults aged between 18 and 24 years, 88 percent use YouTube, 72 percent use Instagram, and 80 percent use Snapchat. Younger generations are the heaviest users of social media, with many on these platforms for a considerable portion of time each day. Meanwhile, looking at the worldwide user, there are 4.66 billion people actively involved in social media in 2024.

2. The Relationship Between Social Media Usage and Mental Health Issues

In studies, beneficial impacts of SNS on mental health have also been revealed. Users with physical and mental health problems who do not use social media platforms may fear disapproval of non-participants by constantly participating in physical health-related practices and psychological interventions. Users who joined SNS may have an improved quality of life by contacting with others and exchanging common health problems, which allows social media users to learn and articulate life stories. These activities allow them to realize that they are not alone and to distract their mind. On SNS, the patients’ experiences often inspire others to regulate and follow suggestions about the problems of mental health.

There are several potential ways in which heavy use of SNS may be related to mental health. First, by combining photo-editing software and frequent uploads and likes, SNS users often share attractive-filtered photos. To improve attractiveness and boost self-esteem, there is increasing concern that younger individuals may undergo plastic surgery to mimic these pictures. Many approved photo-editing applications help people to change their own selfies, often making them seem more attractive than real-world counterparts. During photo-captured facial recognition, heightened social media use in young adults has been associated with distorted reality, risky evaluations, and different neural reaction signals. Second, when present “status updates” are relative, there is an objective contrast between real self-perception and the way a person presents himself/herself on SNS. In general, social media selectively reflects positive everyday events and good feelings of users, which in turn will raise the comparison-induced self-esteem expressing negative emotions. Third, people may develop SNS addiction and atrophy of grey matter tied to addiction to the SNS. In response to the inability of continuous use of SNS, people will emotionally feel solely secure and happy when interacting with others on SNS. Fourth, variables such as social profit and stress from online communication that captures depression and anxiety, respectively.

Engagement with various social networking sites (SNS) has been shown to influence mental health. The relationship between mental health problems and excessive social media use has recently become a topic of interest for many scholars. According to findings from a National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored US trial on smartphone use, excessive use of technology may exacerbate attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depressive symptoms, and mood symptoms. Young adults in the US age 18-25 were recruited for the trial, of which 200 were overweight or had body-image dissatisfaction, making them vulnerable to mental health problems.

3. Strategies for Maintaining Positive Mental Health in the Age of Social Media

Activating self-reflection and setting personal standards for personal social media use are two cultural ways of people using social media platforms to promote mental health. Establishing personal policy and goals with respect to how we engage with these platforms is about taking stock of who you are, what you care about, and what you value. It is about paying careful attention to your relationship with other individuals, your impact on other individuals, and your impact on the social, cultural, and natural world that surrounds you. Finally, self-expression can also become a special way of promoting mental health – writing about negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions can help cultivate mental health benefits. High-frequency users of social media who use the websites with greater immediacy are more likely to experience detrimental consequences of social media use, whereas consumers who visited such websites less frequently exhibited better mental health outcomes. If you research instant mental health treatment without having to visit a counselor, you can look into online therapy. A counselor can provide you recommendations and aid if you have concerns about your feeling of self-worth.

There is a number of strategies that can help assess and control the extent to which social media platforms contribute to the maintenance of your mental health. To manage the negative impact of social media on one’s mental health, it may be helpful to monitor the amount of time spent on a particular type of activity on those platforms. Consider setting and following a certain limit of time that you spend scrolling through your social media feeds. It may also be helpful to control the time when social media platforms are being used – strive for a time of day when your energy and mood levels are high. It is also good to monitor contents you consume on those platforms. Consider following supportive communities and pages that reinforce your values and make you feel positive emotions. It is also important to keep in mind that social media platforms present a highly selective window of people’s lives – observing only the ‘highlight reel’ of everyone’s life does a disservice to our genuine experiences and emotions.

4. Addressing Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

It is crucial for the field of psychiatric epidemiology to investigate the differential involvement of adolescents in a typical triangle incorporating perpetrators, victims of cyberbullying, and observer types in relation to their potential impact on mental health. The health authorities must pay particular attention and make an effort to improve the mental health state of users exposed to cyberbullying. Increasingly, the health of the population also depends on proper use of the new technologies as well as the mental health promotion-based employment of the internet as much as its diverse online social networks. As we know from our findings, prescriptive adolescence patterns/behavior promote less mental wellbeing than those of proactive nature of the internet.

The global nature of the internet and increasing use of social media mean that young people can be targeted nearly 24/7, and online harassment and cyberbullying can have significant short- and long-term effects on young people’s mental health. In general, psychiatric epidemiology research, both on the impact of social media on mental health and on the relationship between cyberbullying and mental health, suffers from an inadequate use of the theoretical models derived from the involvement of traditional bullying. The research presented throughout this chapter allows us to conclude that exposure to cyberbullying/cyberaggression, as a victim, perpetrator, or witness, is predictive of a negative mental health impact on adolescents, whether suffering from psychological (self-esteem and self-efficacy) or emotional (anxiety, depression, and suicidal risk) disorders.

5. Conclusion: Navigating the Complex Interplay Between Social Media and Mental Well-being

The rapid pace with which digital technology is now developing means that evidence on the influence of technology on well-being is constantly evolving. Longitudinal research is now instrumental in providing us with a deeper understanding of how technology use changes as young people transition from later childhood to adolescence and young adulthood, as well as for the potential long-term effects these rapid technological advances will have. Frequent social media use is associated with poor mental health in children, while medium use, high use, and increasing time spent on social media are strongly related to greater psychological distress. Yet, digital technology is impossible to avoid in today’s contemporary culture, and we advocate that parents and schools both play a crucial role in preparing young children and adolescents for negative experiences they may encounter. By providing essential support and preparing them, parents and schools help equip young people to learn how to navigate these complex online environments in age-appropriate ways.

There is growing awareness within society of the intricate relationship between social media use and poor mental health. Yet, exploration and understanding of this vital topic in the scientific literature is still in its infancy. As technology rapidly develops, concerns about the effect it has on young people’s lives are also starting to gain public attention, a positive sign that reflects the increasing public awareness of issues surrounding digital technology. As concerns grow among concerned stakeholders, so too does our need to provide adequate and appropriate guidance for young people and their families to assist in managing the use of technology. The public discourse on this topic can be tricky to navigate, with concerns about excessive use versus the benefits that technology provides through communication and enhancing our lives.

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