With the endless development of technologies taking place in this world, we can say that human life and technology cannot be separated anymore. Humans use and depend on technology everyday; we use technology as a form of entertainment, transportation and communication. Over the past 20 years, the biggest change that has revolutionised the way people live now is the emergence of social media. Social media is an electronic communication through which users form online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content (Merriam Webster, 2018). A recent statistics by smartinsights. com revealed that out 7. 593 billion people in the world, 4. 021 billion people use Internet and 3. 196 billion people are active social media users (See Appendix 1). Despite the fact of social media being able to bring connection to people, we cannot deny the fact that there are negative impacts that can contribute not only on society but also on the health and well being of individuals. Although social media has made the lives of many people easier by instantly sharing contents and communicating across the globe, some aspects can lead to the ultimate detriment of one’s individual health and well being. Stephanie Lau, a developmental psychologist, stated that many people are using technology far too close to bed time, which is affecting how well we sleep.
A statistic conducted by Sensis in 2014, supports this statements, where 48% of people uses social media before going to bed. The big problem with using electronics too much, where many scientists and developers still can’t find a solution, is the blue light they produce. “The blue lights of electronics send signals to our brain telling us it is daytime. Our brains then release cortisol hormones, which then keep us in an alert, wakeful state,” Lau stated. Furthermore, there are a lot of studies shows that overuse of technologies leads to too much sitting, which leads to long-term health problems. According to a study by ranker. com, adults who spent at least 4 hours a day sitting in front of a screen were around 50% more likely to die of heart attacks and strokes (Nucilli, 2018). Also, psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman, said that the use of social media can alter the way our genes work. This is mainly because our bodies achieve different things when we interact with people face to face compare to virtually. Scientifically explained, the body produces a hormone called oxytocin, which promotes bonding and this productions is different depending on wether people are in close physical contact or not (Ranker, 2018). Not many people know that the use of social media for house contribute to long term health diseases and shorten lives. Thus, it is important that people are fully informed about this and should be taken into consideration.
A survey carried out by the Cigna Health Insurance Company revealed that there is an uncomplicated connection between time spent on social media and social isolation. But, how can people feel disconnected from others when social media is there to constantly connect us through many different ways? The survey revealed that 46% of respondents stated that they suffer from the sorrow of loneliness from using social media (Amatenstein, 2018). Additionally, Walton, a Pharma & healthcare from Forbes, stated that the more we stay longer on screen, the more we are likely to feel depression, jealousy, low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority. The biggest victims in today’s society are the teenagers and in fact teenagers in Australia spend 1200 hours a year on social media without parent’s supervision (SBS, 2017). Parents need to step into the digital lives of their children. A report conducted by the University of Pittsburgh stated that teenagers use the 11 most popular social media platforms- Facebook, Youtube, twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn- over 58 times a week and triggers their emotional dispossession.
These issues are not to be taken for granted and need immediate action. Social isolation is a serious health risk as such that a recent study found that loneliness is as much of a threat to longevity as obesity (Sydney Morning Herald, 2015). As suicides and mental health issues amongst students and young adults are gradually increasing each year, the role of social media is still being examined deeper. “We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalise us instead of bringing us together,” Professor Brian Primack, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said. There are number of ways to reconnect when we feel social isolation, but now we know that social media isn’t helping as much as we think it is. A statistics put out by Skilled. co provide information in order to further support and strengthen the claims that social media obstructs our mental health which then leads to addiction. The implications of such a statistics are alarming for 85% of people rely on Twitter and Facebook for their morning news, 28% of IPhone users check their twitter feed before getting up in the morning and 18% can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook (See Appendix 2). What more surprising is that a study published in the journal Psychological Science confirms that social media is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. According to Wilhelm Hofmann, team leader from Chicago University’s Booth Business school, “Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist. ” It’s all within our reach, and as mobile addiction grows deeper, researchers are starting to realise its concerning effects. Although smartphones are still common in 65+ age groups, its detrimental effects such as higher levels of smartphone addiction target the younger demographics with 99% of people aged 18-29 use social media (See Appendix 3).
Analysis reveals symptoms of social media addiction amongst young social media users, “Many youngsters today say they feel panic-stricken and physicially sick… some feels frustrated, angry and concerns when they’re unable to stay online (Harry Wallop, 2017). ” Its very concerning that what may seem harmless online actually triggers one’s mental health and well-being. But just look back to our ancestors; they lived their life happier, healthier and longer without all these technologies, so why can’t we? There are many ways to encourage Australians to be more active and to spend less time on social media. A diagram by fix. com shows ways on how to avoid the psychological pitfalls of social media (See Appendix 4).
Firstly, use it responsibly by setting a time limit on social sites each day. Secondly, take it logically, change the way you use social media; if you are using it to connect with friends why can’t you just spend time with them personally rather than online. Lastly, gain information relating news outside social feeds such as Local TV news, newspaper or Google News. Researchers and campaigners are also helping to prevent further destruction social media causes to the lives of many. They have called for the return of youth clubs to encourage millennial in physical activity programs, as well as emerging a range of local policies that support healthy lifestyle behaviours (The Sunday Times, 2018). We cannot stop the world from developing more advance technologies in the future but we can definitely learn our limitations when it comes to relying on technologies. The more we rely on technology, the more we should be more active physically, mentally and socially. Technologies have helped many lives in terms of communication and interactions, but we must understand that no computer could ever replace any human element that is keeping every person alive and well. Too much of everything is bad, just like overusing social media can lead to the ultimate detriment of one’s individual health and well- being. We must be mindful and use social media effectively and efficiently to avoid its harmful effects.
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