As I was driving to work yesterday listening to Rock95, as I always do, I heard a quick clip about how Instagram and Snapchat are harming youth mental health. I did a little research when I got to the office and I’d like to share a little bit about what I read.
Social Media & Mental Health. What is the connection? Once upon a time we, as kids, played outside with the other kids in our immediate neighbourhood. Sometimes we invited friends from school to come over. But we played. We played with items like Barbie dolls, cars, lego, and we played games like tag, catch, hopscotch, and so on. What’s my point?
We interacted with each other in a much different way than kids interact today. That interaction told us whether or not someone liked playing with us, whether we were worthy of their friendship, for better or for worse. We were forced to deal with things face to face or over the phone. Now, more and more, none of this happens face to face, and no one calls anyone. It would be one thing if communication was limited to texting and emails. Unfortunately, it’s the indirect messages that get people into trouble.
Kids post pictures on Instagram and Snapchat. What’s the big deal? Well, according to a recent article written by Sam Shead for Business Insider in the UK, 91% of 16-24 year-olds use the internet for social networking. They aren’t going to bars, parties and the gym…they’re connecting on-line.
He also pointed out that rates of anxiety and depression have gone up by 70% in the past 25 years. Is that because it’s being reported more often or because it’s actually happening more? That’s hard to say, but I would guess that it’s a combination of the two. Mr. Shead ranked the big five social media platforms according to their impact on mental health in youth:
- Youtube (the most positive influence)
- Instagram (the most negative influence)
“Negative mental health impacts that can be induced by social media platforms include anxiety, depression and loneliness. The platforms can also cause children to become body conscious, while FoMo (fear of missing out) and bullying are other issues.”
Obviously there is so much more to this study, and I’m not an expert on mental health, but I have three children who range in age from 17-23. I’ve seen a big change in how my kids communicate from when our then-13-year-old opened up a Facebook account about 10 years ago, to how Snapchat is an actual addiction that some in their teens have to have regulated! Social Media & Mental Health. Why don’t we go back outside and play?
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John Weber, Sales Representative Cell: 705-727-6111 John@WeberTeam.ca
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