This critical evaluation will be going into depth on whether or not social media increases the risk of mental health issues in teenagers and young adults negatively, and whether or not there is a wide range of academic sources that are up-to-date and comprehensive of the research subject. Therefore, it is seen through immense and thorough research that it can be supported that social media has a moderately negative impact on the emotional and mental wellbeing of adolescence and young adults alike. Nevertheless, there is still many arguments taken on both sides of the spectrum, all attempting to support their stance with relevant information that gives way to important and necessary interpretations and understandings of this topic. Mental illness is something that affects everyone, even though this evaluation is only looking into the effects of social media and mental health in young adults and teenagers, it is still something that touches the lives of everyone in society. Therefore, social media does increase the risk of mental health problems.
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Many studies have delved into the topic of social media platforms and their impact on mental health. Many correlations of this subject has been continuously researched over the years since social media was first introduced into society and the world. Many different studies have shown the links between social networking sites (SNS) and their effect (whether they are arguing positively or negatively against this topic) on the mental health of young adults and teenagers. SNS is a platform to which many people around the world are able to connect and generate relationships via the internet and social connections (Seabrook, Kern, Rickard, 2016). The main types of SNS is Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with more than 70% of adolescence and young adults using these sites (Jelenchick, Eickhoff, Moreno, 2012). Seabrook, Kern and Rickards 2016, have put forward the consideration that social networking could actually be supportive while also enabling social interaction, but also could have the opposite effect, and create issues that could lead to negative effects on mental health (Seabrook, Kern, Rickard, 2016). Therefore, some social aspects of social media can have a poor effect on mental health, which is highly seen in adolescence and young adults. This source suggests that if social media effects poorly on the user it is just indicative to their use of it and it isn’t the platform as a whole, going as far as suggesting that social media in fact protects users against mental health issues such as depression and anxiety that will be looked at into more depth further on. Even though this source isn’t supportive of the main argument, it does give an important counter-view of it. Social media use is forever increasing among society as a whole, and through many studies, including Lin, Sidani, Shensa et al., (2016) research that showed that in American young adults, increased social media use was in fact significantly associated with depression (Lin, Sidani, Shensa et al., 2016). There is also a phenomenon called “Facebook Depression” that has neither been rebutted or supported that SNS like Facebook cause depression (Jelenchick, Eickhoff, Moreno, 2012). Therefore, many published studies that draw into the association of SNS and mental health have yielded mixed reviews over the years. However, consistent findings were obtained despite different samples and methods of peoples’ research into this topic. This is indicative of a robust finding that supports the notion that social media affects mental health.
Mental illness has been recognised as one of the most leading factors in disability today, and that social media can be used to actually detect depression and anxiety, as well as cause it to intensify or even help manage it (Choundry, Ganon, Counts, Horvitz, 2013). One study even delves into how gender can also change the way SNS affects one’s mental health, with the constituting factor of age. It is seen in this study that females have a higher prevalence of mental health issues and mental distress brought from social media platforms (Kawachi, Berkman, 2001). However, as it is seen in many of the relevant sources, more research has to be brought into actually answering the question at hand.Shaw and Gant (2004) conducted a research study on whether or not the internet had negative impacts on users. Their results suggested that the internet could very well be seen to have negative impacts and implications to its users (Shaw, Gant, 2004). Their research pointed out that internet use was positively linked with dwindling relationships between the family members that were apart of this study (Shaw, Gant, 2004). Stress that seemed to be daily, loneliness and depression were all positively identified and also linked to a higher level of internet usage, while they controlled for other variables in the research (Shaw, Gant, 2004). The information and data taken from this research journal shows that internet usage and social media does reflect badly on one’s mental health. However, their research also suggested and showed that none of the results gathered from this experiment were strong enough to actually suggest that internet was the only categorical factor pertaining to the diminishing mental health of the participants (Shaw, Gant, 2004). This is suggestive that of the data collected from this study didn’t fully support the argument at hand. Kraut, et al., (1998) conducted a study that significantly supported our stance on this topic. It showed how greater use of the internet, and social medial could be associated with the declines in participants’ communication with others, as well as, declines seen socially, and also increases in their depression and loneliness (Kraut, et al., 1998). Seeing as this is quite an older study, this suggests that the findings in this papers hypothesis could be moderately different now. Primack, (2017) has even suggested that depression and anxiety can be associated with an increased use of SNS, however, with the independent roles of using multiple platforms is still unclear (Primack, 2017). Therefore, this shows that there is a gap in literature, as well as a contradiction that social media negatively affects mental health by suggesting that it is, but also not being completely of it causing mental health problems to be more apparent and worse in a way.
There has been a lot of research and knowledge put into the many analyses and/or experiments that have been done to understand this subject. There texts all seemed to attempt to answer the question with relevant and new information gathered. However, there seems to be a very biased notion that social media affects teenagers and young adults either negatively or in no way at all. Whether or not this is the case, there is not much research that suggests otherwise. Many of the research that had been conducted in these cases had hypotheses suggesting that social media had no negative effects and that it actually helps with mental illness. There is a lot of published research reports that are suggestive of the fact that there is in fact a positive relationship between social media and mental health, and after conducting their experiments or analyses they in fact go on to suggest that there is either no relationship or that there is a negative relationship between the two. However, what is truly the case is that it is highly suggested as well as supported that social media negatively impacts a person’s mental health, especially in high regards to depression, anxiety, self-esteem and perceived loneliness. It was also seen that the evidence to support either opinion came with extensive research and was persuasive, even if findings were contradictory to stated beliefs. However, irrespective of the suggested belief and direction of a researcher’s findings between social media use and mental illness, these findings should be shown to public practitioners and others, as it is important for them to understand the link between the two (Lin, Sidani, Shensa et al., 2016), as untreated depression and other mental health disorders have become a serious problem in today’s society, and every bit of information about topics such as these are useful (Nambisan, Luo, Kapoor, et al., 2015). Therefore, research on whether social media increases mental health problems should continue on, to really be able to determine whether or not this is a serious risk factor for the health of teenagers and young adults around the world.
Therefore, through much research it has been highly suggestive of the fact that social media does have a detrimental effect on the mental health of teenagers and young adults alike. However, more research should continue to be conducted into this topic to find the extend of this problem. Mental health is a serious issue in today’s society, and measures need to continue to be taken to help support the people in need of help. Therefore, founded through current and qualified research, social media platforms negatively impact young adults and teenagers today.
- Shaw, L. H., & Gant, L. M. (2004). In defense of the Internet: The relationship between Internet communication and depression, loneliness, self-esteem, and perceived social support. Internet Research, 28(3).
- Kraut, R., Petterson, M., Lundmark, V., et al. (1998). Internet paradox: a social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being. American Psychologist 53:1017-1031.
- Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., Barret, E. L., Sidani, J. E., COlditz, J. B., & James, A. E. (2017). USe of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in human behaviour, 69, 1-9.
- Seabrook, E. M., Kern, M. L., & Rickard, N. S. (2016). Social networking sites, depression, and anxiety: a systematic review. JMIR mental health, 3(4).
- Lin, L. Y., Sidani, J. E., Shensa, A., Radovic, A., Miller, E., Colditz, J. B., … & Primack, B. A. (2016). Association between social media use and depression among US young adults. Depression and anxiety, 33(4), 323-331.
- De Choudhury, M., Gamon, M., Counts, S., & Horvitz, E. (2013, June). Predicting depression via social media. In Seventh international AAAI conference on weblogs and social media.
- Nambisan, P., Luo, Z., Kapoor, A., Patrick, T. B., & Cisler, R. A. (2015, January). Social media, big data, and public health informatics: Ruminating behavior of depression revealed through twitter. In 2015 48th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (pp. 2906-2913). IEEE.
- Jelenchick, L. A., Eickhoff, J. C., & Moreno, M. A. (2013). “Facebook depression?” Social networking site use and depression in older adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(1), 128-130.
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