The Effects of Social Media

Osborne Lopez, Creative Writing Section Editor

The world we grew up in is different from the world our parents grew up in. Our trends are different, the way we dress has changed, and our slang is…interesting, to say the least. Times have changed, but why? The answer is complex, but something that has changed, and made a noticeable impact, is social media.

Social media has defined a generation; my generation. We grew up with apps such as Instagram and TikTok, which has allowed for us all to become connected and part of a unique experience. Something important happens in the entertainment industry or someone dies, and we know about it instantly. We have the world at our fingertips. The question that becomes asked often, however, is this: is social media slowly killing us? Opinions vary, but I think it is important to take a look at all sides of the argument.


Social Media: The Cons

Now, it’s easy to waste your time on an endless scroll. The new fifteen to sixty second video format that has been adopted by apps such as TikTok, and recently Instagram and YouTube, has allowed for us to enjoy endless hours of entertainment without ceasing. It’s great (or at least we think so).

Tamsin Mahalingham, a researcher from the Curtin School of Population Health, has stated that “If you are a distractible person, high levels of social media use may be particularly bad for your mental health.”

Another doctor from Curtin’s School of Population Health, Dr. Patrick Clarke, has stated something that backs up this claim: “The longer we spend on social media, the more we can be exposed to including negative content, or content leading to self-comparison to unattainable ideals”

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Data from the CDC indicates a scary fact: the rate of suicide was once stable for those between 10 to 24 years old. This was from the years 2000-2007. But recently, with the introduction of new social media apps, that statistic has started to change. It has increased by 57%.

These facts have proven a scary reality. No, social media isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We need to be aware of how and when we use social media. Now, this isn’t to say that social media is all bad! Let’s take a look at the bright side!


Social Media: The Pros

Like I said, social media isn’t all bad. It can provide us with the ability to explore interest, interact with friends and family, and even pass classes. That last one may be a shocker, but sometimes we need help, and social media is the only way to get it in a way that is fast and convenient.

Katherine Helm, a professor and psychologist from Lewis University, has said that social media “can reduce the stigma around mental health issues” and “[provide] an opportunity to develop supportive online communities.”

A research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, by the name of Mesfin Awoke Bekalu, has provided this as input: “as long as we are mindful users, routine use may not in itself be a problem. Indeed, it can be beneficial.”

Lastly, but not least, the Pew Research Center has conducted a study that shows that up to 81% of teens feel that social media has made them feel more connected to friends and family.


So What do we Take From This? 

No matter where we stand on the issue of social media use, it is important to stay informed on the thing that seems to have all of us connected. We are social creatures through and through, and that is okay, but we shouldn’t let the internet, or others, dictate how we see ourselves.

Use social media wisely and be aware of how you are doing mentally so that it can be used in a way that is beneficial to you. Be careful, be informed, and be wise.