Ever since I was 11-12 years old, I had been a constant social media user, never knowing that it could have a negative impact on me, or that my every move was being watched and recorded. Companies such as Facebook and Twitter are tracking our recent activity and preferences to create an endless flow of content pertaining to our “likes” and interests. On top of that, they’re selling people's personal information without the user even knowing.
After watching the documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” I started to pay attention to my social media use.
There are multiple negative impacts online users face. The most important one, I feel, is the impact on mental health. In 2017, the American Journal of Epidemiology conducted a 5,000 person study, and concluded that a higher social media use coincided with a decline in mental and physical health.
Additionally, The Social Dilemma reveals that U.S. hospital admissions for non-fatal, self harm in teen girls from 2009 aged 15-19 was up 62%, and for girls aged 10-14, it was up 189%. The same trend is shown in suicide rates for teen girls in the U.S. since 2009. Suicide by teen girls aged 15-19 increased by 70%, and suicide by girls aged 10-14 increased by an astonishing 151%. The only drastic change in teenage girls’ lifestyles since 2009 is their ability to participate in social media use.
In order to regain control of your social media use, it's important to look at the bigger picture. First, reduce your time online. Just by reducing your time, you could also be reducing your levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Another would be to disable notifications. It’s difficult to resist the constant dings and buzzes on your phone from new notifications. Finally, shift the purpose of your social media use. Instead of using it purely out of habit, focus more on using it specifically to connect with others as it was initially intended for.
Users of social media need to become educated as to the harmful effects of constant use, in order to make sure everyone is aware of how our social media use can negatively affect each and every one of us.