The Social Illness


Image via Pixabay/Google Images.

Madison Stone, Reporter

Social media has a huge impact on teenager’s mental and physical health and too many times social media is overlooked as a cause of these issues. Social media platforms are becoming more dangerous and unhealthy.

An article by Forbes targets the different causes social media has on teenagers’ mental health. It explains that social media causes them to be emotionally unhealthy and unstable. Social media twists peoples minds to compare themselves to others. Teenagers fall victim to the comparison game which can take a large toll on their self-esteem. Teenagers do not feel like they live up to the same status as the people they see online, so in turn, they change themselves in a mentally and physically unhealthy way.

According to Child Mind Institute, social media effects teenagers moods, emotions, ability to think or react, and it causes them to become sleep deprived. Teenagers spend more time on their phone screens instead of getting adequate sleep. It states, “teens who don’t sleep enough are more than twice as likely to report higher levels of depressive symptoms” and “teens who sleep less than seven hours a night are also 68 percent more likely to have at least one risk factor for suicide.”

Social media is a dangerous way for people to get trapped into the downward spiral of mental illnesses that lead to deadly physical health issues. Anorexia, bulimia, other eating disorders, depression, self-harm, and low self-esteem are just a few of the mental issues that teenager become victims of. In a Huffington Post article, they explain, “although social media itself is not the sole cause of an eating disorder, it has fueled individuals to engage in disordered patterns of eating.”

In a video from Sky News, it explains “Thinspiration,” which is being inspired by the thin people seen in media. The video shares personal stories of people who struggle with eating disorders. One man named Dave Chawner struggled with anorexia and because of social media, he relapsed.

The media share pictures of “skinny” women and unrealistic stereotypes that young people are expected to live up to. Women and men use that as a way of justifying their unhealthy habits. Although social media was created as a way to keep in touch with long-distance friends and family, it has escalated to a point of unrealistic living.

These unrealistic stereotypes that teenagers are asked to live up to hold an undeniable pressure to conform to the social standards. However, if we take note of these habits and understand that social media is taking the minds and lives of teenagers, we will be able to grasp where to start finding a solution.

There are many ways communities can help avoid the fall into mental health. The Health Service of the University of Michigan offers 10 ways to do for mental health. The article gives examples of ways to reduce the stress, like valuing yourself and treating yourself right. Choosing to look at the positive parts of oneself and celebrating one’s skills is a way to value who you are. Treating oneself to what’s needed, reduces mental stress and is another great way of looking for one’s own happiness.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, has a list of “Do’s and Don’t’s” for helping a loved one with an eating disorder. This list offers some understanding for family or friends to take a step back and assess the situation.

Social media is a cause of social illness, but there are ways the community can support these issues. Taking a step back from the situation to see the deeper issue can help us gain a better understanding of how to end the social illness.