Woman using social media

14 Negative Effects of Social Media Use

 

Do you also start your day scrolling through social media aimlessly? Then probably you are also wasting many precious minutes of your day without even realising it. In this article, I will discuss about 15 negative effects of unhealthy social media use.

Social media is not just a medium or platform, it’s a powerful revolution that has changed our lives from various aspects. It has changed the mode of education, the way we socialize with our loved ones and build new connections, spend our leisure time, showcase our talents, grow our businesses, create new career opportunities, raise our voice to protest, raise funds for a cause and so on.3.81 billion people use social media worldwide in 2020

There are 3.81 billion social media users worldwide as of 2020. It goes without saying that we are constantly consuming information on social media. The purpose behind using social media is now beyond just connecting with family and friends worldwide. The ease of internet access and the evolution of social media has created countless number of opportunities regarding careers that no one thought would exist.

Regardless of the numerous opportunities that social media offer, we can’t neglect it’s negative effects on individuals, communities, organizations and society as a whole. It has become urgent to raise awareness on social media negative effects. A number of studies have found associations between increased social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, suicide risk, and so on. These negative impacts of social media, if not recognized on time and handled properly, can be risky to the health and social well-being of its users. Here are 14 ways that social media use can be unhealthy for its users:

Cyberbullying

You might have seen people posting hurtful, threatening and tormenting messages repeatedly, like ”Why are you still alive?”, “you are so ugly” and what not. This is called cyberbullying. Bullying has always been there, but it has changed it’s form with the advancement of technology. Typically, this is done through mean comments, online rumors, and even sexual remarks.

It can also be stated as “wilful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices,” says the Cyberbullying Research Centre in the US. Forms of cyberbullying are harassing by sending negative messages of mean, intimidating or threatening nature over and over again using digital media , hate speech.

Cyberbullying has become a worrying impact of social media because it results in victims feeling anxious, socially isolated, falling into depression and in more extreme cases, has cost them their lives. 

Cyberbullying was taken to a whole new level with the entry of the ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ which was a suicide game, conducted primarily through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To know more about it in detail head on to ‘Blue whale Challenge’ .

To know more, you can check alarming Cyberbullying Statistics in 2021.

Defamation

With the rise of social media, everybody has got easy access to a platform and the power to share and spread whatever they want. However, some of them forget to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. They think that they have got the right to speak anything about anyone’s life ,throw abuse and don’t know where to stop.

Some people misuse the power of social media to spread rumours about others and defame them within a few seconds sometimes just for the sake of having fun or to take revenge, at the cost of their lives. Another way to defame people, especially women, is to save their pictures without their permission ,morph it and then spread it online. This mentality was always there. It’s just that, with the advent of social media they have got an readily available tool to show their inhuman side. In these cases ,it’s actually the ‘dark side of people’ rather than social media.

Just like getting something ‘viral’ can give recognition to a talented person, it can also defame an innocent person to such an extent that it compels him to end his life.

17 year old Manav Singh allegedly committed suicide due to the allegations of sexual abuse levelled against him on social media. To know more about this case, check Manav Singh Suicide.

Provoke violence

Some people intentionally hit a point that has some kind of emotional attachment which triggers others indulging in unnecessary fights and never-ending arguments via comments in social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube .It’s hurtful to see that people have normalised using bad languages and abusing each other for no reasons. 

Not every comment on a post is an invitation to arguments. Getting involved in unnecessary conflicts or fights is not healthy for anyone. It does not lead to any conclusion,rather creates an air of negativity,spreads negative vibes to whoever comes to interact there. So the smart thing to do is staying positive and not wasting time arguing with people online.

In many cases the violence induced through social media does not remain confined only to the virtual world but also infiltrates into the real world. One rumour or inappropriate post that hurt an individual or community sentiment have many times led to violent outrages on the street including riots, destruction of public and private property and even loss of lives.

Misinformation

If you find any content on social media be it in the form of a message or image or video or audio harmful, unlawful or misleading ,then do not pass it on to others and if possible report it. Sometimes it can be dangerous for people who blindly believe it. It might reach lakhs of people/mass population in no time and would be difficult to control; resulting in spreading of fear and hatred unnecessarily. So care before you share anything./think before you forward any content on social media.

To ensure the authenticity of the shared piece of content, you might:

  • Check the originating source and it’s credibility
  • Read the whole article, not just the headlines because headlines are often misleading

Lack of privacy and security

Many people post so much on social media platforms that they endanger their own privacy by making their lives transparent. Where are they going to roam, where are they eating food and so many other revelations of their lives. The already uploaded posts on social media encourage other people to become more public with their private lives.

Anyone’s personal data can be easily hacked if not  secured properly and can be shared all over the internet. Stalking, personal attacks, and misuse of information are some of the threats faced by the users of social media.

Cyber stalking

Cyberstalking is stalking or harassment carried out via online platforms such as social media, forums or email. It might target individuals, groups, or even organizations and intends to control,defame or intimidate (threats) the victim or to gather information for use in other crimes, like identity theft or offline stalking.

Cyber stalkers might terrorize victims by sending unpleasant messages systematically, perhaps even several times a day. It can have many motives including revenge, anger or even lust.

Unrealistic portrayals and unhealthy comparison

As you scroll through your social media feeds, everyone seems to be having a perfect life, traveling across the world and looking flawless all the while ; you see that over and over again and fall into the trap of unhealthy comparison and make quick judgements about own selves and think other’s lives are anyway better than that of yours.

Social media lets you see the carefully selected best parts of everyone else’s lives, which you compare to the negatives in your own life. Everything is shown in such a flawless and glorious way, the ones perceiving might start doubting themselves and suffer from inferior complexity. 

Most of the time they portray selective self-presentations or  edited versions of their lives, such as only displaying images in which the person looks attractive or is seen enjoying themselves. But there is another side of it which remains hidden and unknown to the ones perceiving it and they fail to realize it. This unhealthy comparison leads to envy, low self-esteem or depression.

Depression

Adolescents and teenagers especially are vulnerable to potential suffering posed by social media usage. There are also people who trolls or argues about politics to entertainment industry and what not. If interacting on social media causes distress, it’s not good for your mental health. Facebook depression is an emotional disturbance associated with frequent social media usage when a teenager is made to feel inferior to their social media counterparts and they fall into a depression. The need to stand out, fit in, or be accepted by their Facebook friends is what drives users towards this form of emotional disturbance.

Anxiety

Browsing through social media too frequently could be adversely affecting your thought processes and mood. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a form of social anxiety from the fear that you are missing  out on a positive experience that someone else is having or a potential connection, event or opportunity. 

We are more curious about knowing what other people are doing rather than investing our time and energy for ourselves. Anything we spend this much time doing has lasting effects on us. So make sure that even if you spend more time than recommended ,you spend on those content that leaves you with positive vibes and peace of mind. 

Social media addiction

Facebook notification pops up on your screen “XYZ tagged you in a post’ and you jumped in to open it immediately. Moreover, even if the notifications do not come, you keep checking the account. Use of social media in a healthy way and within a particular time limit is not harmful. But uncontrolled social media usage mostly among teenagers can lead to its addiction. Any addiction is potentially harmful if it drains your energy away from other activities, such as work, physical activity and in-person relationships. This has drastically reduced productivity and can cut into time you might otherwise be spending exercising ,reading a book or learning something new/useful. People who are addicted to social media may experience negative side effects such as  getting an eye strain from staring at screens for too long, sleep deprivation, eating disorder.

Social currency

Do you feel sad if you don’t get likes on your social media content? Do you feel bad when someone unfollows you? The new generation is growing with the impression if life is not recorded and shared digitally, it’s not worth it. In social media, the likes, comments and shares -have become kind of a social currency which determines the worth of the content receiving them.

Poor concentration and decreased activity

If you constantly get distracted towards social media ,it might lead to shortened attention spans. Any kind of work requires focused attention and concentration to get finished successfully but simultaneous use of social media while working affects the quality of work and it can take several minutes to refocus on the task. Researches show constant interruption has an adverse effect on attention and reduces learning and performance.
Users, especially teenagers spending too much time on social media, take away their time which they could have invested to learn life skills and professional skills, develop personality, take care of their physical and mental health.

Social isolation, loneliness and impact on relationships

How ironic it is that social media which was invented to connect people is causing social isolation and loneliness. Using social media while sitting in front of people can interrupt and interfere with in-person communications. When a person irrespective of the age is on social media for hours ,other persons in his family might feel isolated or alone.

Couples going to restaurants for spending some time together finding time from their daily hectic schedules ;instead they both spend time over their respective phones.

Getting into an extra-marital affair has got easy ,with a new person, just a click away. It has become easy for a person to betray his partner by getting carried away and building a relationship with another person on social media, destroying marriages or relationships.

Sleep deprivation

If you’re staying up too late randomly scrolling facebook or instagram posts, you may be losing valuable sleep. Different studies have shown that increased use of social media has a negative effect on your sleep quality.

If you feel like your sleep patterns have become irregular and you are becoming less productive, try to cut down on the amount of time you browse social media. This happens mostly when you have already hit the bed at night but with your phone in your hand. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’ll spend just five minutes checking WhatsApp stories, only to realize an hour later that you’ve been mindlessly scrolling through Twitter content you don’t even care about. Another impact of overusing social media is fatigue and it alters your appetite.

Should you quit social media?

Social media itself is not the problem. It is the way people use it. You have to decide whether you will make it a waste of time and energy or investment of time. The negative effects of overusing or using it in an unhealthy manner should not overpower you. You should always have the control as much as possible not to fall in the traps which leads you to your physical and mental health issues.

To some extent it depends on us whether to become a victim of its negative impacts or become powerful by leveraging it’s positive sides. Control what you see in your social media feeds; change it to something that makes you stay productive and peaceful. Follow only those accounts that add value and positive vibes to your life and not make you compare yourself to others and add stress to your life. Spare a minute to think about the return of  wasting (or investing) your time on using social media. Whatever is your answer it should anyway lead you to something positive.

Many people nowadays leverage social media to explore new opportunities, showcase their talents, start and grow their online businesses .If your career is not linked with having your consistent presence on social media just delete your account if you wish to, live in peace and let it be. No one can force you to use that if you are happy without the presence or dominance of social media and don’t feel the need for it.

You can still live in the moment or say enjoy the moment by being in the moment even without quitting social media by using it in a healthy and thoughtful manner. But always be aware of the actions you must take if by any means you get get cyberbullied, cyberstalked.

Everything is so momentary in social media. Today something got viral, tomorrow something else will. So invest your time, energy and dedication in something that has a lifetime return.

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