How Social Media Affects body image and mental health – Everyone loves social media and its numerous advantages of bringing the entire world to their fingertips. Connections that were lost eons ago are back in life, thanks to the networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Messaging apps like Whatsapp, Telegram make life easy through the live and constant connection with family and friends spread across borders.
But, All that glitters is not gold!!
However, there is always another side of the picture, that no one wishes to touch or talk about. On the ugly side, social media is a boon for many, but also has adverse effects on the mental health of youngsters, especially teenagers. Young girls fall into the trap of unrealistic expectations and over-exposure.
Let’s discuss how social media impacts the mental health of students and young adults.
Role of Social Media in the Society
Social media is a crucial thread of modern society, no one can deny the positive changes it has brought in the making of new and transformed India. It brings people together, boosts MSME (micro small, and medium enterprise) businesses, spreads information, creates awareness, and much more.
It won’t be wrong in saying that social media is a proven and successful communication channel across all areas. Today, most businesses, government officials, entertainment pages, celebrities, news portals have their own social media pages to interact and connect with their followers directly.
Social media has proven its effectiveness by uniting populations across borders for causes. ‘Me-too campaign’ against sexual abuse at workplace against women, ‘Climate Change’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ being the most famous examples from the recent past.
At the same time, there have been numerous instances of the role of social media on body positivity and mental health in youngsters. In the past health and fitness challenges on social media have taken the world by storm or rather fitness bug! Celebrities challenge young Indians to beat boredom by adopting a healthy lifestyle, better physique, health, and more.
Body positivity has brought women in front of the camera shedding their inhibitions regarding body size, color, and physical flaws. Women across social strata, generations, and classes have showcased their talent and art to the world with the help of social media platforms. During the catastrophe of the Covid-19 pandemic, social media turned into a one-stop-destination for the rich or poor to seek help and gather information.
But again this is just one side of the coin. There is a lot more to social media than being a communication channel that connects the world and inspires.
Mental Health and Social Media
Mental health is a sum total of many factors involved in our day-to-day life and experiences. In common language, the term mental health is used to show a connection between mental stress and a person’s behavior. However, the experts say differently.
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” – MentalHealth.Gov
A term that has recently gone viral on social media FOMO – Fear of missing out explains the mental psyche of the current generation very well. FOMO compels social media users to constantly keep checking their phones. The anxiety of missing out on an update or a new trend in time could lead to far more serious issues than just being late.
Studies and research articles have shown a strong connection between heavy social media usage and early depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts in youngsters.
With covid-19 affecting schooling across the globe, educational institutes found solutions in online schooling. Kids as young as 5 years of age are exposed to online learning with youtube and various other networks, which increases the risk of social-media bullying and harm.
A 2020 survey has shown how children between the age of 10-18 have experienced cyberbullying, over information, verbal abuse, misuse of information online.
Social Media – Body Image and Mental Health issues
It won’t be wrong in saying social media is transforming the beauty and ‘how one looks’ concept. The content we consume online for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle is enormous. Not only does it put pressure on social media content creators, celebrities, influencers, but also on the users to live an unrealistic life or achieve an unthinkable target.
For example – ‘Weight loss journeys‘ circulating on social media in the short-form video content does more harm than inspiring others to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Make-up tutorials or transition videos compel females to adopt a new lifestyle laced with heavy usage of make-up and skincare products.
Youngsters get inspired seeing the ultra-modern and fashionable lifestyle, in return they try to achieve the same glamorous life, harming either themselves or their families financially or emotionally.
Depression, isolation, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders are a few of the outcomes of heavy usage of addiction to social media on young minds.
Social Media has positive and negative effects on young people, to stop them from falling prey to unrealistic expectations, or any mental/physical harm it is essential for adults to educate them, create awareness, and encourage healthy usage only.
Hope you like reading this post, for more content related to Mental Health, keep watching this space.
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