My twelve year old cousin Ashley sent me an Instagram request last week and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. Social Media is the most prevalent it’s ever been within our generation. And it only goes up from here. According to Pew Research Center, It is said that 95% percent of teens from ages 12-17 use social media .That’s my cousins Ashley’s age, so her Instagram request came in due time. As we progress as humans the use of social media also progresses. So it would be wise for us to understand how that effects us. The first concern that is often documented with social media is cyber bullying. With more children online, kids are now dealing with bullying potentially on a global scale. Which makes it 100 times worse. This is causing increases in children depression and suicide rates. The Office of Adolescent Health titled it “Social Media: Health Resource or Health Risk“. But the depression social media is causing is actually deeper then just bullying. Things you see on Social Media are able to stir up tons of emotions including sadness. We could be subconsciously comparing themselves to their friends or feeling the sting of rejection from not being involved in something. The popular website known as Health- How Stuff Works, calls it Social Media Depression. Because people are more likely to project a positive image online, it’s easy to underestimate everyone else’s negative feelings. This all ties in to the next issue that rises with social media, the constant seeking of approval online. As you compare yourself to the next person while feeling lonely, the next step is to upload something and see if you will then be included. CNN did an article called “How Girls use social media to build up, break down self image“. The article included a survey which described the following:
- 35 percent are worried about people tagging them in unattractive photos.
- 27 percent feel stressed about how they look in posted photos
- 22 percent felt bad about themselves if their photos were ignored.
Those are the people who felt comfortable admitting to it. I myself remember the days when I would upload a picture and delete based on the response of everyone else. But I probably wouldn’t have put that in a survey if you asked me. The last and most important factor is the effect social media has on our brain. Now this effect may not necessarily be a bad thing, but we must understand that there is an effect. In a recent study, researchers at the UCLA brain mapping center used an fMRI scanner to image the brains of 32 teenagers as they used a bespoke social media app resembling Instagram. By watching the activity inside different regions of the brain as the teens used the app, the team found certain regions became activated by “likes“, with the brain’s reward center becoming especially active (CNN Social Media Effect on Brain) . Scans revealed that the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain’s reward circuitry, was especially active when teens saw a large number of likes on their own photos, which could inspire them to use social media more often. As our brain begins acknewlodege likes with more and more praise, will we reach a point in which likes out weigh things that are more important. These are things we need to be aware of. As a college student with a social media account, I know that its not all bad. No one is gonna read this and simply decide they’re going to give up social media. It’s not gonna be that simple for us. This is our lifestyle. But we must control it. We mist be able to distinct between social media and real life. If the line is not drawn they become the same thing.