sample literature review for research paper

sample literature review for research paper

The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

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1. Introduction

Adverse mental health effects of social media usage are a particular concern for young people. There are a number of reasons for this. Young people are the most active users of social media. Across different platforms and social media activities, the potential effects of social media on mental health will not be uniform. Young people’s mental health can be affected positively or negatively (or not at all) depending on the social media activity. The same applies to different mental health dimensions (i.e. it is not the case that all social media-related mental health effects will be detrimental) and this makes the task of trying to assess the range of social media mental health effects more complex. Given these points, we have targeted our report towards effects that have the most potential to cause harm to young people.

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the emerging mental health implications of social media practices and platforms. We examine research evidence as to whether social media usage adversely affects the mental health of young people. This is important to an understanding of the potential consequences of inaction, since some social media activities may be a cause of mental health issues.

2. Literature Review

A considerable amount of young people reported online bullying, and it was shown that the medium in which the bullying took place was on social networking sites. Those with negative experiences were found to be generally addicted to the internet, using it as a forum to let out their feelings, or those who would visit chat rooms. Measures were taken through running studies to create an anti-cyberbullying program over the prevention of negative behavior online and to promote positive behavior. Those using social networks, especially children, need to be protected from exposure to harmful conduct from other users, and this is why for a European project that was tested for an online anti-cyberbullying game that was successful and voted highly by children in the US and UK.

In the research study, it was shown that social networking sites have a negative impact on the mental health of children under the age of 16. Researchers questioned 997 young people between the ages of 10-19 about their top five social networking sites and conducted further interviews. The results showed a strong link between the age a child began using social networks and the likelihood of them having a negative experience. Those who began using social networks between the ages of 9-10 were more likely to have a very negative experience in comparison to those who started using social networking sites at 14 years and above.

3. Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

There are a variety of ways in which social media impacts the mental health of its users. Perhaps the most prominent example of the negative impact of social media on mental health is the increase in cyberbullying on social media platforms. Cyberbullying is particularly harmful because it can be perpetrated by a large number of people and can occur at any time of the day or night. Victims of cyberbullying have reported increased use of drugs and alcohol, skipping school, feelings of depression, sadness, and difficulty sleeping. Additionally, it has been widely publicized that tragic suicides in young people can be a result of cyberbullying. Social media can also have a negative effect on the self-esteem of its users. Seeing the highlight reel of someone’s life can cause feelings of jealousy over the material possessions of others and cause people to feel they are not living up to their potential. Viewing altered images and reading about the seemingly perfect lives of others can lower self-esteem and cause depression. Another common negative impact of social media on mental health is the promotion of negative behavior such as the viewing of violent, sexual, or otherwise inappropriate content. This can lead to dangerous behaviors such as eating disorders, self-harm, and drug abuse. Using social media can also decrease anxiety in some users. In a study examining the relationship between social media use and mental health, researchers found that the use of social media has a negative effect on an individual’s quality of life. The use of social media was associated with half an hour of lost sleep and a greater risk of reporting higher psychological distress. Measures of association showed that higher social media use correlated with a greater chance of high anxiety.

4. Strategies for Promoting Positive Mental Health on Social Media

One strategy for promoting positive mental health on social media might be fostering connections through shared experiences, providing people with differing mental health statuses opportunities to relate and connect with one another. This could reduce the feelings of isolation or difference from the rest of the world that some people with mental health issues experience. The Mental Health Foundation in the UK has already been doing this through a program called “Finding Mind,” where they facilitated people with and without mental health problems to communicate and share their experiences, with the goal of reducing stigma and discrimination. An analogous social media activity might include a designated blog where people with various mental health issues could hash out their personal experiences to one another. Through engaging with individuals and their unique experiences, the program would give participants a sense of validation and understanding. Other ideas that fall under this strategy include engaging the participation of mental health professionals on social media and building supportive communities for specific mental health issues or identities. Shifting focus a little, this next strategy is based on the conservation of wellness. It is suggested that when people are not currently experiencing mental illness, reminders of past experiences may not be helpful to them. In being prompted with a Facebook photo from a time when they were unwell or reading a post by someone with a similar issue, it’s possible that they could be triggered into negative states of thinking. For this reason, mental health advertisements and positive messaging should be targeted specific audiences, relating to those with experiences of a particular illness and including those who may be in recovery phases. Industry professionals can also attempt to advocate and influence mental health promotion policy within the organizations running social media sites. Lastly, a positive intervention might involve giving people tools that they can use to track their own mental wellbeing and providing them with information on how to interpret and act on the results.

5. Conclusion

It is undeniably clear that social media is very impactful on the mental health of many of its users, since it has affected a vast population from various different demographics. Its effect can range from positive to negative, there is no denying that social media takes a toll on the minds of many people. Adolescents and teens are the most at risk while using social media, these young and impressionable minds often fall victim to the idealistic body image standards that are perceived in many different social media. A study conducted by Fardouly, Diedrichs, Vartanian, and Halliwell concluded that “a higher frequency of Facebook and appearance comparison, and the mediating roles of internalization and self-objectification, can lead to body image concerns and ultimately disordered eating”. This shows that the younger population that often compare themselves or internalize the beauty standards that are often plastered over all types of social media end up with more issues with themselves than people that don’t use social media. This is only one of the many pitfalls that social media has influenced in younger people, another is the cyberbullying that takes place often on the internet. A study wrote “Cyberbullying on social media is linked to depression in teenagers” conducted by Anne Marie Yang, showed that there was correlation between the amount teenagers that were bullied on social media and the ones that became depressed. With most things that have a negative effect on lives there are often some positive aspects, social media does have some good effects on mental health although they are few and far in between, the support of others online can be very beneficial to those who suffer from mental illnesses. Often times there may be support groups/pages that offer understanding and coping strategies that can be beneficial to one’s well-being.

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