SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS CONNECTION TO MENTAL HEALTH
Human beings are social creatures that require the companionship of others to make progress in life. Thus, being socially connected with other people can relieve stress, anxiety, and sadness, but lack of social connection can pose serious risks to mental health.
Social media has recently become part of people's daily activities; many of them spend hours each day on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and other popular social media. Many researchers and scholars study the impact of social media and applications on various aspects of people’s lives, Moreover, the number of social media users worldwide in 2022 is 4.7 billion, up 10% year-on-year. Social media has many positive and enjoyable benefits, but it can also lead to mental health problems. Previous research found that age did not have an effect, but gender did; females were much more likely to experience mental health than males. Is a fact that social media are responsible for aggravating mental health problems. This Parliament News Magazine issue is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness and we asked our newest Parliamentary Society Member; Love Island star Nathalia Campos to give us her opinion and advice on this matter.
On her own words:
“Social media has a way of portraying life to show perfection, to make life look amazing. Often the reality is very different, but unless shown, no one will believe it. The constant use of social media, whether Instagram or TikTok, can set a standard of false expectations that in order to live you must have this perfect life. It is essential for people to understand the difference between what is staged for PR or likes and what is reality. Social media puts a lot of pressure on looking the right way, wearing the right clothes, being up to date on the latest looks and fashions and acting the right way. Social media has such an impact on young people now-a-days as it is so accessible, which can create mental health issues if they aren’t living the way life is portrayed on social media or displaying your life how others are. Teens as young as 12 are trying to look and behave like 30-year-olds because they believe that’s how they should be.
The more your life is displayed on social media, the more pressure you feel about how you act, what you wear and how you look. This pressure only grows with the more followers you gain, which creates pressure to ‘post’ more often and to be more active on social media and be ahead of the social trends. More followers also means more comments, both good and bad. Social media offers opportunity for people to voice their opinions, which is wonderful until the opinions become hateful and spiteful. This can cause negativity for other followers as well as the person who post is being commented on. “Followers” forget that there is a person behind the posts, someone who reads every comment and takes the comments personally. Most comments can be lovely, of course, but when there are negative, spiteful, or hateful, they tend to have a stronger impact, they can last longer and can have a huge negative impact on your social health, making you question those comments, wondering whether they are true and if everyone thinks or feels that way about you. The reality is, no one ever says these comments out loud, no one would ever come up to you on the street and say hateful things, so why this behaviour is as “okay” on social media, public for everyone to read.
I think the advice I would give to budding social media influencers, social media users and everyone in general is to not allow yourself to get lost in hateful comments, remember that not everything displayed on social media is real and don’t let social media, follower count or the number of likes control your life. Make sure you step away from the screen, give yourself a break and experience the world off screen. Stop thinking that you are not enough because of people who are not ready for all that you are. People should be more aware of the impact on mental health and how it can hurt others. it is also so important to raise awareness of the power of negative words and the importance of being conscience of the power negative words can have."
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