Note: Essay for my Psychology class! Thought I’d share, here. 🙂
I am writing on my beliefs that social media is psychologically detrimental. The subject at hand has been studied in detail and I will be sharing several of the studies done, as well as psychologists’ views and why social media can be so addictive.
Several studies have been done, trying to prove the grim effects which social media can have on the mind.
One study was carried out at the University of Pennsylvania. 140 participants were asked to either continue their regular use of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, or to limit each one to only 10 minutes per day, totaling to half an hour of social media. The participants were also provided with data from their phones to show exactly how much time spent on the social media accounts. Before and after the intercessions, participants also filled out questionnaires of how they were doing, psychologically. Researchers were especially interested in the participants’ anxiety, depression and loneliness levels.
At the end of this study, it was found that those who had limited their usage of social media to only a half hour a day, reported lower depression and loneliness levels.
Leon Festinger was a social psychologist who once wrote about “A Theory of Social Comparison Processes”. He theorized that the majority of a person’s self-evaluation, was based on the way they viewed others around them. He wrote that, “a person’s evaluation of his ability to write poetry will depend to a large extent on the opinions which others have of his ability to write poetry. In cases where the criterion is unambiguous and can be clearly ordered, this furnishes an objective reality for the evaluation of one’s ability so that it depends less on the opinions of other persons and depends more on actual comparison of one’s performance with the performance of others. Thus, if a person evaluates his running ability, he will do so by comparing his time to run some distance with the times that other persons have taken.”
From the journal entry, “Frequent Social Comparisons and Destructive Emotions and Behaviors: The Dark Side of Social Comparisons”, the authors state that, “people who tend to make spontaneous social comparisons, therefore, tend to be unhappy, more vulnerable to the affective consequences of such comparisons, and more likely to get caught in a cycle of constantly comparing themselves to others, being in a self-focused state, and consequently being unhappy. More social comparisons, rather than serving a useful, coping function, merely serve to reinforce the cycle tying social comparisons to diminishing well-being.”
This being said, it can easily be seen that in general, humans self-evaluate themselves by what they see in others around them.
Social media has been known for supplying information that creates discontentment and heightens loneliness and depression levels. The reason being, that the individual being supplied with the information, finds their life menial and degrading. By surrounding themselves with what is perceived as people with perfect lives, the individual automatically becomes unhappy with their current situation.
Another study was done at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center. A fMRI scanner was used to image the brains of 32 teenagers as they used a bespoke social media app, mirroring Instagram. The research team assigned “likes” to photos that the teenagers had posted. By watching the activity inside different regions of the brains of the teenagers, the research team found that the brain’s reward center became especially active, when the participants saw that their photos had been liked.
“This is the same group of regions responding when we see pictures of a person we love or when we win money,” stated Lauren Sherman, the lead author.
We see then, that social media can also create a state in the mind, of addiction. By relying on this form of “social connection” to bring pleasure and fulfillment, the individuals associated become reliant on an object of no consequential matter.
Social media can be a very detrimental and harmful object upon the individual who decides to use it. There are many more ways to spend one’s time, than by participating in something which heightens depression levels, increases loneliness and activates the brain’s reward center. We can learn so much more by reading a book, writing a story or pondering life’s greatest mysteries. These are the things that will reward you much more in life, than spending time on social media.
Thus, I come to my conclusion of the matter.
-Keziah Hofmann – October 16, 2020
Research Shows Just How Bad Social Media Can Be For Mental Health – Forbes.com
Leon Festinger’s “A Theory of Social Comparisons” journal entry. 1954.
Frequent Social Comparisons and Destructive Emotions and Behaviors: The Dark Side of Social Comparisons – Journal Entry — Judith B. White,1,5 Ellen J. Langer,2 Leeat Yariv,3 and John C. Welch IV
SEEING EVERYONE ELSE’S HIGHLIGHT REELS: HOW FACEBOOK USAGE IS LINKED TO DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS – Journal Entry — Mai-Ly N. Steers, Robert E. Wickham, Linda K. Acitelli.
Teens: This is how social media affects your brain – Susie East – CNN