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Social media linked to multiple adverse psychological effects

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Brody Leo, Contributing Writer

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Influential tech powers have stepped up to warn of the harmful potential of social media. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said earlier this month that he will not allow his nephew to use any social media. Facebook posted on their newsroom in December explaining that social media has the potential to worsen the user’s wellbeing depending on how it is used. Given that these companies profit off the high-frequency use of technology, these reports beg the question of just how serious the adverse effects of social media are.

Multiple recent studies, such as ones published in Journal of Affective Disorders, Computers in Human Behavior, and PMC, have displayed frequent exposure to social media’s ability to destroy self-esteem, sleep and relationships while building anxiety and symptoms of depression. What makes these studies even more troubling is that between 2010 and 2015, teenage suicide rates climbed 31 percent, and while schoolwork levels have not shown much increase, smartphone ownership had climbed more than 20 percent. The evidence is clear that social media can have negative psychological effects on its users under the right circumstances, but that leaves us with one crucial question: how much social media is too much?

The amount of time that is too much may not be uniform for every social media user, but there are a few signs that could mean that the use of social media may have crossed the line from healthy to unhealthy. Many have developed an unhealthy dependency on screens for day to day living. If you find yourself interrupting something you’re doing as soon as you feel a vibration in your pocket, or feel uneasy without the weight of your phone in your pocket, it may be time to start making an effort to be conscious of your phone use. Studies also suggest that downtime can boost productivity, attention span, creativity and memory; so instead of pulling your phone out in elevators, lines, study breaks or even class, recognize that boredom is the best option for your brain in the long run.

In the same interview, Cook also said that he doesn’t believe Apple as a company has achieved success if people are using technology at all times throughout their day. He pointed out that social media can be “a place where basic rules of decency are suspended and pettiness and negativity thrive,” and encouraged users to measure their impact on humanity through the people they serve rather than the likes they receive on the photos. It seems to be that these tech executives are concerned with their very own product so much so that the Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, with 75 percent of the student body as children of tech executives, utilizes little to no technology, and emphasizes face to face contact and outdoor learning.

Social media has its benefits, but the negative impacts should also be weighed as well. We now have entered the era of heavy reliance on technology, and we must learn to how to let social media coexist in peace with our analog lives.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Social media linked to multiple adverse psychological effects”

  1. Cindy Janske on January 31st, 2018 7:31 PM

    An insightful article to awaken people’s online conscious.

  2. Nathan Ziv on January 31st, 2018 8:07 PM

    Excellent article, Mr. Leo! As the father of 2 young children, I struggle to find the balance between limiting technology completely and exposing just enough to spark interest / keep up with educational advancements.

  3. Uncle Jon on January 31st, 2018 11:38 PM

    Very insightful Brody. You have quite a good perspective coming from a family very closely involved in Tech. I enjoyed the read, it inspired me to do some research as well. Keep up the good work thinking outside of the box and please keep questioning “authority”! Well done.

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