Man is known as social animal since human existence and Neurobiology claims that humans are inherently social and hence like to be socially connected. Being connected with friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues has played a significant role in bonding and hence relieves stress, anxiety, and sadness.
There is a lot of scientific data which reveals that people with good social contacts and networking are less vulnerable to psychological issues and development of mental illnesses as compared to those people who are not socially connected.
Humans communicate in different ways such as interpersonal communication, group communication etc. Earlier people communicated via letters, visiting each other and in time through telephone. With the advances in technology development in modes of communication with time, the access to internet and social media, world has become global village. Now it has become easier to reach out to anyone in any part of the world in no time.
These days’ people spend most of their time on social media platforms. After the emergence of COVID-19 infection people were advised to stay at home by their respective governments to curb the spread of the said infection which resulted in a boom of use of social media. According to recent data, as many as 90% of young adults currently spend time on social media sites and majority of them using WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, at least once per day. These figures are increasing day by day as social media has now become quite important in everyone’s life.
Social media has many positive and enjoyable benefits, but it can also have negative effects on us.
Positive effects of social media
Ø By staying connected on social media we can find new friends and build relationships with like-minded people.
Ø We can nurture already existing relationships.
Ø Social media can be a great source for faster communication.
Ø We can stay in touch with our friends and family who are far away from us.
Ø Social media can raise a powerful voice for the underprivileged citizens of the society.
Ø It is easier to reach out to more people and put forward one’s point of view.
Ø By sharing one’s personal experiences on social media, we learn to empathize and relate with each other.
Ø Social media is capable of escaping boredom and refreshing one’s mind so that one can have a fresh start and improve one’s performance.
Ø On social media platforms we can raise awareness about any social cause and health issues.
Ø We can discuss new topics relevant to our society.
Ø Social media can be a great source of income for many.
Ø News from just about any part of the world can spread like never before on social media.
Ø It can be very helpful for expanding business.
Ø Social media is a great place for students to find mentors and training programs to learn new skills and gain knowledge.
Ø It has given new lease of life to learners and mentors by connecting during classes, conferences etc. through zoom meetings, Google Classrooms, WebEx etc.
Ø Many influencers will openly share their knowledge to help others grow.
Ø It enables such people to talk to others, discuss their mental health issues.
Ø Social media makes it infinitely easy for you to find content that serves your interests.
Negative or toxic effects of social media
· Social media is highly addictive.
It is a proven fact that people develop screen dependency and get addicted to social media sites.
· Social media can damage self-image.
Social media sites provide tools that allow people to earn other’s approval for their appearance and the possibility to compare themselves to others.
· False belief of control.
Social media can make you believe that you can control the way you want to etc.
· Social media can actually make you lonely.
Spending time in your room alone can make you lonely. It actually separates us from others. So, this is no replacement for real social networking, neighbours and friends.
· It brings sadness many a times
Social media brings less moment-to-moment happiness.
Pandemic and other catastrophes are complicated by false and baseless news which actually horrifies the society and spreads a lot of misinformation and hence contributes negatively.
· Danger of cyber bullying on social media.
Cyber bullying is a growing concern, due to the horrific effects it had on teens over recent years.
· Students and teenagers waste a lot of time on social networking sites, which leads them to focus less on their academics.
Playing online and offline games, watching pornography, fantasy / magical networks etc. distracts children from their real goals like academics, family, friends and so on.
· Social media can be the root cause of depression and anxiety
How to handle the negative impact of social media?
· By keeping a smaller number of social media apps on your gadgets.
· By setting limits on the amount of time you spend on social media.
· By using social media to connect with people who inspire you, share similar interests, and provide a sense of belonging.
· By contributing to the social cause and helping in awareness.
· By spending more time with your family and friends outdoors.
· By keeping your cell phone on silent when not needed.
· By keeping away your phone before you go to sleep.
· By sharing positive thoughts on social media.
· By creating meaningful connections that may help you overcome the difficulties, when needed.
· By exercising daily.
· Practice religious activities/ mediation/ mindfulness.
· By keeping your personal information private.
· By managing your friend list and not allowing random people in your group.
· Be aware of privacy and security settings.
· By supervising your children’s online time and sites visited.
· By educating your children about cyber bullying.
· By being careful regarding pop-ups and unfamiliar links.
Social media affects our sleep pattern and has associations with depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. Overuse of social media can have greater impact on our concentration, attention and memory. Despite its drawbacks, social media remains an efficient means of connecting communities and individuals across the world.
As with everything else, there is a positive and negative aspect to social media. When used wisely and in moderation, we can benefit from its constructive effects, and certainly deliver a positive impact on the society in ways mentioned above. It’s not hard to break a habit that has a negative influence on one’s wellbeing. It depends on our strong will and determination on how to control our social media addiction for good.
In the present-day materialist world, there is too much negativity and we need to make sure that we use social media to reform by innovation, improvisation and introspection rather than complicating the problem further by negative contributions.