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Digital Era and Its Influence on Health Condition

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Social media can be defined as; technological platforms where people are able to share information and communicate anywhere in the world on any device that has access to the internet. Social media has grown exponentially in the last couple of years and as a result, people are relying on social media in their daily lives. The largest group being people between the ages of 18-29 years old. An international study showed that 83% of people in this age group use social media in their daily lives (Duggan & Brenner, 2013). Social media has become the norm and so it is logical to ask, how is this affecting the mental health of people in these age groups. This paper will look at some of the positive and negative effects that social media has on mental health.

Social media has taken over and it is affecting all ages starting as young as about 8 years old and technology is improving every day making it almost impossible to live without the internet and therefore it gives everyone access to social media and anytime or place. However, when it comes to the effects of social media on mental health it becomes a grey topic because it is something still so new it doesn’t give us much insight on how it will affect our mental health in the future. There are, however, positive effects and aspects of social media such as increased socialization and an increase in communication even though it is through social media platforms and the internet (Bashir & Bhat, 2017). It has also opened up learning for everybody whether it is educational learning or learning in a person free time, it all builds up confidence in people and can then be positive on mental health but too much of this can lead to negative effects, which are later discussed. In a study done on how adolescents react to social media feedback it showed how people who got good and positive feedback had an increased self-esteem and therefore lead to a confidence boost (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten,2006).

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In that same study, the people who got negative or bad feedback had an extreme decrease in self-esteem (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten, 2006). This result shows that people become reliant on social media to increase their satisfaction with life and happiness. In a different study, the result showed that a high percentage of people who become internet reliant struggle in daily life to form and build relationships and so they turn to the internet for comfort (Milani, Osualdella &Blasio, 2009). Some other negative effects on mental health are anxiety, people worry about likes and comments and therefore simultaneously increase their stress levels and affecting their own mental health unconsciously. An example of this is Phantom vibration syndrome, which is when a person hears their phone vibrate as if a message has arrived, however, there is nothing on the phone (Drouin, Kaiser &Miller,2012). Another example being cyber bullying which has a huge effect on all aspects of mental health (Juvonen & Gross, 2008). This high level of anxiety over a long period of time can lead to depression as well as other side effects such as suppressing emotions. Slightly minor effects can be fatigue and decrease in ones intellectual ability (Bashir & Bhat, 2017). All these negative effects of social media on mental health can lead to more problematic situations socially and personally.

When looking at the positive and negative effect of social media on mental health and even other aspects, the negative effects seem to consistently outweigh the positive. The research shows that there can be a positive impact of social media in many aspects such as making the world smaller and bringing people and cultures together but when comparing the effects of it on mental health we see that the negative effects are more common. It is critical that a solution is found to help change the negative effects of social media on mental health or at least improve them in some ways, people are already experiencing the negative effects and it needs to change.

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