The Relationship between Social Networking and Mental Disorders
How it works
Since social networking came to fruition many years ago, we have seen an increase in usage in the 20th Century for adults as well as teens. Popular sites such as Facebook, Instagram, blogs, Twitter, and Snapchat are the major culprits. There are many statistics on the usage of social networking sites for different ages, genders, and social statuses; however, just, the sheer volume of usage is staggering. Pew Research Center began tracking usage in 2005; 65% of American adults and 89% of teens ages 13-17 use social media today, which is up 7% from the start of their studies. More importantly, so are mental disorders associated with social networking. Whereas social networking has created a profound change in the way we communicate with people, some wonder if that has caused a spike in mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and addiction.
The general definition of anxiety disorder by Malcolm Ladder, “Anxiety disorder is characterized by an excessive and inappropriate worrying that is persistent and not restricted to particular circumstances.” (Ladder et al., 2015) Social networking is the hot spot for worry. Adults, kids, and teens of all genders, ages, and races dabble in social networking sites. It is hard enough to conduct life normally, but with social networking sites of all kinds being readily available to capture instant gratifications or instant failures, one can deduce why social anxiety disorder is on the rise. Social comparison is a huge negative when talking about social anxiety.
How it works
Individuals may compare themselves with people they know, strangers, or celebrities, and most of the comparisons have negative effects. “Across two studies, as individuals spend more time on Facebook, they engage in more frequent negative (upward) and nondirectional social comparison and less positive (downward) social comparison” (Steers et al.), meaning that comparisons increase levels of anxiety. They make people excessively worry they aren’t good enough or aren’t smart enough, or not pretty or handsome enough. This can get excessive the more individuals spend time on social networking sites. On the opposite side of that, you have social connections.
A person with a social anxiety disorder can also become positively impacted, which can result in helping with their anxiety if they feel connected to social networking sites. The more friends they have, the likes they receive, or the retweets they may get can play a huge role in boosting self-esteem, which can have a positive effect on their anxiety. (Grieve et al.) says, “Facebook social connectedness encompasses subjective feelings of belonging and closeness to an individual’s social network.” He also says it “Demonstrated that higher levels of Facebook social connectedness were related to lower levels of depression and anxiety and higher levels of subjective well-being (life satisfaction).” These are only two examples, one positive and one negative, of how social networking sites play into an anxiety disorder. There are many other examples, unfortunately, the negative kind over positive, which is why individual anxiety numbers increased in the 20th Century.
Depression has been a constant battle since the rise of social media and social networking platforms. Leading researcher Ignor Pantic found that “the relationship between social networking and behavioral disorders remains unclear.” despite the fact that “Facebook alone has more than 500 million active users. As a result, these networks have a huge impact on the modern way of life, including the change in inter-personal communication and interaction.” (Pantic et al., 2011). There are known facts about each field of study, and each has its own effects, but we have not successfully settled on a certain correlation between the two just quite yet.
There was a study done in 2011 by a team of researchers that took 160 high school students, both male and female and whose ages differed very little. When the researchers gathered their findings, they found that out of the 160 students that 156 of them had some form of minimal, mild, or moderate depression. The statistics showed that there was a positive correlation in this set of students between time spent on social network platforms and their depression.
Another way of looking at the conclusions was found in a study done by Dr. Megan M. Moreno, where she found that “Overall 25% of profiles displayed depressive symptoms and 2.5% met criteria for MED.” (Moreno et al. 2011). The importance of this was that she studied a certain group of college students, specifically sophomore and junior undergraduates, and followed their Facebook page to see if they showed any signs of DSM. Now the positive that we can take away from this is that, more importantly, Dr. Moreno found “That those who would receive online reinforcement from their friends are more likely to discuss their depressive symptoms….” (Moreno et al. 2011).
In other words, a positive outcome from a social media platform is that when people experiencing depressive behavior have support online from friends, they are more likely to talk about it with someone and seek help. This is the first step in resolving the depression problem. Social media is also a way that known professionals that treat and help people that are going through depression can see into aspects of their life that they do not display for the world to see on the outside.
Addiction to social networking sites has been studied extensively, but they have still yet to settle as to what the user is addicted to. Is the user addicted to the technology, or what exactly does the technology allow them to do? Daria J. Kuss gives us what she believes are ten reasons behind the addiction to social media platforms. She says this about Facebook and why people are so addicted to it. She answers, “Recent research has suggested that high engagement in social networking is partially due to what is named a fear of missing out or more commonly known as FOMO.” (Kuss et al., 2017). People who showed higher levels of FOMO typically also showed a greater increase in lower well-being mentally, a lower general mood, and a lower status of the mind.
In conclusion, we can look back and see how social networking has detrimental effects on one’s mental status of the mind and we can also see how sometimes social media is like a hidden treasure that can give us an answer to questions that go unanswered personally. By this, I am referring to the fact that sometimes healthcare professionals can look at a patient’s social media page to find out what is not being said when they meet and help start the conversation for them to get help. There is also the fact that social networking can be used to break the stigma of depression and anxiety not only due to social media but in life as well.
On the flip side of that, there is researched back conclusion about the correlation between social networking use and the number of teens and young adults that suffer from depression or anxiety due to this. Directly and indirectly, social networking platforms can have a chance to work for the greater good, or they can hurt people deeply on a daily basis. It all comes down to the user and how they intend to perceive the information and, what they choose to follow on a daily basis, what they choose to reinforce in their own mind.
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The Relationship Between Social Networking and Mental Disorders. (2023, Apr 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/the-relationship-between-social-networking-and-mental-disorders/