sample journal article review

sample journal article review

The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

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1. Introduction

In recent years, the prevalence of mental illnesses, such as depression, has been on the rise at a global level. The World Health Organization (WHO) gave the alarming statistic that 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide and that number is increasingly on the rise (WHO, 2018). This statistic is what has prompted me to further investigate the topic of mental health and its correlation to social media. I believe that to tackle an issue of this magnitude, we need to identify issues in our society today and this essay is going to focus primarily on the increased usage of social media by people of all ages and how that has affected their mental health. This essay will argue whether the usage of social media is contributing to the onset of mental health issues in recent years by society or whether mental health issues have started to influence the way that people use social media. This essay is split into four main sections. The first section will look into what mental health actually is and how it is pertinent to the human experience. I believe that while it may seem obvious, to tackle an issue of mental health and social media, it is important to define exactly what either of those concepts are and how all encompassing they can be on society today. Step one in solving a problem is usually identifying it and that is the goal of this section of the essay.

2. Literature Review

Section 2: Literature Review There is a solid body of evidence on the negative effects of social media on the mental health of young people. A recent systematic review of the mental health impact of social media on adolescents included five studies which largely supported social media’s detrimental impact. Issues of internal and external validity were consistent across the studies with small sample sizes and an overreliance on self-report measures. However, the negative effects reported were still compelling. These included lower self-esteem, greater psychological distress, and higher rates of suicidal ideation. And while these effects were more pronounced in adolescent females, indicating a moderating role of gender, they were still marked in males. Singh et al.’s (2018) quasi-experimental design found that participants who were randomized to an increased social media usage condition showed an increase in depression and loneliness, compared to a decrease for the decreased usage condition, although the small sample size restricts generalizability. These findings are consistent with similar studies conducted cross-culturally in Iran and the US in young adults, further indicating a wide-ranging and consistent problem. An experimental study by Hunt et al. (2018) further supported the temporal relationship that social media causes increased depressive symptoms. High social media users involved in the study who were then randomly allocated to taking a break from Facebook reported record lower levels of the indicated symptoms than the control group.

3. Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

A social media site allows an individual to create an online profile which details their information, interests and a general persona. This often involves taking pictures which show the individual in a positive light and the success of editing technology to enhance desired physical attributes. This then creates a public image of how the individual wants to be viewed and applies the theory of high and low self monitoring. Those who have a high self monitoring tendency will aim to upload only pictures which they view as positive and attempt to generate a response from individuals which reflects the same. This may be through tagging pictures to their places of work, choosing a profession and an education to show off on their pages or publicly displaying relationship success. All of these actions compare to activity in real life but an attempt to maximize reactions and create a positive public image. In comparison those of low self monitoring may only have a minimum of content which would resemble their real life persona, with an emphasis on not having to try and generate a positive public reaction by constantly adjusting the way they behave in a similar fashion to their public profiles. This creates two levels of identity and behavior both of which will essentially impact the self-esteem and mood of the users in differing ways.

Our impression management is our public perception or how we want to be perceived by our peers on a day to day basis. Goes Irwin has suggested a distinction of impression management stating that we have two different types of behaviour. The first being high self monitoring, this is where one will be overly conscious of how they are perceived by others and will often adjust their behaviour to create a desired image. This often occurs as they are more attuned to the reactions of those around them and are more willing to change to create a positive response. The second is low self monitoring, these individuals are often viewed as stubborn and consistent in their actions and who they are due to their lack of willingness to change to create a positive image. High self monitors have a tendency to absorb the negatives of situations and dwell on the positives and will often consider the best way to behave in a situation to generate a positive. This then enhances and maintains positive self-esteem. This then compares to low self monitors who may not necessarily pay close attention to how they are perceived by others as their lack of interest in creating a public image reflects that creates and maintains an attitude of true to the self and little regard to impact on the perceived opinion of others. This theory is particularly relevant to the usage of social media and its effect on the mental health of individuals.

4. Strategies for Promoting Positive Mental Health on Social Media

Building a community for mental health resources, support, and advocacy – Tapping into tribes on social media who are committed to creating positive change for issues such as self-injury, eating disorders, and suicide can cultivate a sense of belonging and empowerment. Norming and modeling through social media – This means using Facebook status updates, tweets, and blogs to share an experience with a psychological disorder, correct misinformation, show the real prevalence of mental disorders, and express that recovery from a mental disorder is possible. When done in appropriate and safe ways, this strategy can be a highly effective method of changing attitudes and behaviors toward mental health issues. Positive social marketing – This involves employing strategic marketing efforts to change the attitudes and behaviors of a social media group in order to improve their health and well-being. With mental health, this is often approached by trying to increase awareness and education on specific topics as well as promoting the use of help-seeking behaviors. A team from the US has recently launched a positive social marketing initiative on body image and eating disorders. They are using evidence-based information and resources to create awareness and change attitudes on these issues through social media.

5. Conclusion

Undoubtedly, social media has revolutionized the methods of communicating and sharing information. However, the longstanding effects of such a change are not all positive, and it is important to recognize that the drawbacks can be quite serious. On an individual level, social media makes it very easy to increase one’s volume of social interaction, from anywhere at any time. This can be very pleasing for an outgoing person who is in search of company, but quite the opposite for someone who is shy or has social anxiety. For them, the internet and, more specifically, social media, can be an unforgiving and anxiety-provoking place when it comes to interaction. The lack of face-to-face and body language cues in online communication may lead to a misunderstanding, or a person feeling left out or isolated. Conversations may simply end without notice or a clear reason. For someone with anxiety or poor self-esteem, this does not bode well for their mental state. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. A recent study of over 1,000 Australian adolescents found that the less time a teenager spends on social networking sites, the higher their level of mental well-being. This study suggests that it is the lack of face-to-face social interaction and the potential for negative experiences on social media that leads to higher levels of anxiety and depression.

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