The overuse of social media is a nationwide issue that we all must be aware of. The generation that is most affected by social media is that of Gilmour Academies students. If we do not educate ourselves on the effects of social media overuse, we may all be negatively impacted by it.
Three billion people, around 40% of the world’s population, use online social media – and we’re spending an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms, according to some reports. That breaks down to around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos shared every minute.
With social media playing such a big part in our lives, could we be sacrificing our mental health and well-being as well as our time? What does the evidence actually suggest?
In the survey of 1,800 people, women reported being more stressed than men. Twitter was found to be a “significant contributor” because it increased their awareness of other people’s stress.
Researchers have looked at general anxiety provoked by social media, characterised by feelings of restlessness and worry, and trouble sleeping and concentrating. A study published in the journal Computers and Human Behaviour found that people who report using seven or more social media platforms were more than three times as likely as people using 0-2 platforms to have high levels of general anxiety symptoms.
Humans used to spend their evenings in darkness, but now we’re surrounded by artificial lighting all day and night. Research has found that this can inhibit the body’s production of the hormone melatonin, which facilitates sleep – and blue light, which is emitted by smartphone and laptop screens, is said to be the worst culprit. In other words, if you lie on the pillow at night checking Facebook and Twitter, you’re headed for restless slumber. A student’s sleep is one of the most important aspects of their life. If students do not get enough proper sleep, there will be many negative consequences.
Last year, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh asked 1,700 18- to 30-year-olds about their social media and sleeping habits. They found a link with sleep disturbances – and concluded blue light had a part to play. How often they logged on, rather than time spent on social media sites, was a higher predictor of disturbed sleep, suggesting “an obsessive ‘checking’”, the researchers said.
Social media is changing faster than scientists can keep up with, so why are we still moving towards social media dependence with the younger generation? The best thing we can do is limit the amount of time and value we put into our social media accounts. Focus less on likes and comments, and focus on real world things. Focusing more on bettering yourself rather than being concerned about others will only help you in your own life.