An overuse of social media can lead to mental health problems and a lower quality of life

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: MELISSA NOVACASKA
Spending too much time on social media can negatively affect your self-esteem and lead to an increased risk of anxiety, depression and physical concerns.

Social media is everywhere and it is constantly changing.

New apps are developed every day and the list keeps getting longer on what accounts you have to frequently check. According to Social Media Lab, 94 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 24 have at least one social media account.

While social media is a good way to connect with friends and feel part of a community, it does have several negative effects in terms of mental health and the overall quality of life.

I am guilty of spending too much time on a number of social media platforms so I am not trying to tell you to delete all of your accounts.

Instead, I suggest trying to cut back your time spent online and you will inevitably feel happier.

Most people have probably heard someone, usually from an older generation, tell you to “live in the moment” and get “off of your phone”.

Although this can be annoying from our not so tech savvy elders, it is true.

Whether it is on vacation or at the bar with friends, Snapchatting your night away or trying to get the perfect Instagram worthy picture can make it difficult for you to experience something to the fullest.

In an article by Psychology Today, it was found that people who take pictures remember less about a certain situation compared with those who did not take any photos.

The study involved a group of people going into a museum where some of the individuals took photos and some did not. It resulted in those who did not take pictures having a better recollection of what was in the museum. Taking too many photos can also distort your memory of a particular event. People spend so much time focusing the camera or trying to get the best backdrop that it involves cognitive efforts and not personal memory.

One of the biggest negatives to social media usage is how it affects people’s self-esteem, especially in young adults. Constantly seeing the highlight reels of people’s photoshopped lives can make you feel like you are not on par with your peers.

Whether it be someone posting about a promotion, engagement, or just a selfie of their perfect makeup, it can lead to you feeling inadequate.

It is important that when using social media you remind yourself that pictures only tell part of the story and to not base your selfworth on a photo that was probably taken at least 10 times over.

The low self-esteem that arises from the overuse of social media can lead to a negative body image.

A study done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that young adults who spend more time on social media have an average of 2.2 times more likeliness of reporting eating disorders or body image concerns.

In addition to this, they also found that there was an increase in sleeping problems and symptoms of depression in people who spent more time online.

Another issue of social media is cyberbullying. In a study done by Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, it was found that cyberbullying affects over 25 per cent of youth across Ontario.

Individuals who are victims of bullying show a higher rate of depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, depression, and low self-esteem.

Although slightly ironic, spending too much time on social media can negatively affect your social skills.

The less time that you spend face-to-face with people means you will have a more difficult time showing empathy and compassion.

In an article by New York Behavioural Health, learning how to process non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, eye contact and tone of voice is crucial in developing proper social skills.

Spending more time communicating digitally opposed to in person means you will not be able to learn these skills that are necessary for day to day life.

Social media is a great tool and it is advantageous to be able to communicate with the world at any time.

However, it is important to be mindful of the amount of time you are spending refreshing your Instagram page or sending out Snapchats of yourself as a dog because too much time online is not making your life any better.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.