Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…who has not heard of these social media websites? Everywhere you turn today, emphasis is being placed on social networking and connecting online. These popular websites have millions of users spending 22-percent of their time online, according to the Nielsen Company. People of all ages are now tuning to this form of interactive dialogue as a means of communicating with others. But does this form of communication and socialization come with a price?
The possible negative effects of social media on a person’s health have been a hot topic, recently. You may be wondering: Is there any credibility in the idea that logging on can actually be detrimental to your health? According to recent studies, there just may be.
When face-to-face communication has been removed, it becomes easy for some individuals to use a type of alter ego to exaggerate who they really are. Many social media users practice boosting the reality of their lives by posting things that make them appear more desirable to be with. People just want to measure up.
- Those with less social confidence can easily see themselves as having less worth than others.
- Being constantly reminded that your life may not measure up to so many others can further lower a person’s self-confidence.
- In addition, social media is rampant with overly critical and often hurtful interaction. These unfriendly exchanges can take place so much more easily when the human element of face-to-face communication has been removed.
Such cruelty can be devastating to an already troubled individual. The feelings of inadequacy that are caused can sometimes lead to depression.
Leads To Addiction
Some studies, like one by the University of Maryland, have shown that all this use of social media can lead to an actual addiction. Many individuals are spending so much of their time on social media websites that it actually interferes with the way they live their lives. More and more people are turning to these sites to receive their news, play games, chat with friends, and simply kill time.
As technology moves forward, there are an increasing number of people who are now relying on their smartphones to visit these media sites. It is becoming easier to log into a site at any given time of the day, which is just what some people are doing. Again and again, throughout their day, they feel the need to post something or check-up on what others are posting. It has become an important part of the way these people spend their days and it is affecting thousands of people. Just think about how often you see people using their smartphones for anything other than talking or texting.
Leads To Isolation
The use of text messaging and social media messages have become a common occurrence in today’s society. Interaction on a human level has become less frequent in a person’s day-to-day living arrangements. Thanks to social media websites, interaction with others has become effortless, and people have isolated themselves behind online identities. Direct communication has been eliminated and much of society has been reduced to using abbreviations that express their emotions. Examples of important aspects of communication that are falling by the wayside today include:
- Basic verbal communication
- Tone of voice
- Facial expression
- Body language
Social media is removing these very human qualities of communication by eliminating the need to get out and socialize with others in person.
Inhibits Physical Interaction With Others
Spending all this time online socializing has replaced the time spent engaging in face-to-face communication. The human element of conversation has been removed. Why go out for a chat over a cup of coffee with one friend when you can stay home and socialize with many at one time? By removing the need to socialize on a face to face basis, we have removed all of the perks that go along with it, such as:
- The sound of laughter
- Being able to read another’s emotions
- The sight of a smile
- The feel of a touch
These are all very real human qualities that individuals need to express and interpret from others now and again.
Hinders Creativity And Decreases Physical Activity
Social media has made it easy for many to become just plain lazy. With the touch of your fingertips you can post a question to your social sites asking others for ideas rather than using our own imagination and thought process to generate an idea. Original thinking can easily be replaced by utilizing readily available information online, thus eliminating the need to create your own ideas.
On top of that, people are also less inclined to go outdoors just for some exercise, or even working out at home. After all, it’s difficult to update your online profile when you’re running on a treadmill.
Negative Impact On Children
Most social media sites have strict guidelines about age limits. However, younger children may lie about their age in order to activate an account. These sites are not meant for the younger child. They may be exposed to language, pictures or content that is not appropriate for their age. Young minds are not equipped with the mentality to handle forms of cyber-bullying or online harassment that can occur. This can tie-in directly with depression that could even lead to physical harm.
Young children online can be easily exposed to predators, or they might start interacting with people much too old for them, which can lead to dangerous situations. Parents and caregivers need to be aware of the effects these adult sites can have on a younger child.
The Bottom Line
Technology is a wonderful advancement that can bring many new and exciting things to enhance a person’s life. Using social media sites in a way they were intended to be used can be a rewarding experience. However, too much of anything can be a bad thing. As with everything else in a person’s life, a little education and a good balance are essential for a healthy outcome.