Author: Jiayi Chen
Editors: Simran Gohel, Tharindi Jayatilake, and Ken Saito
Artist: Jiaqi Fan
Mental health concerns the psychological and emotional well-being of people. Especially amidst COVID-19, it is becoming an increasingly important subject. Mental health is closely related to many other issues because it can affect and be affected by physical, psychological, and social factors. So how was our state of mind affected by the pandemic?
During the pandemic, the role of social media became more present in our lives. Social media platforms connect people during the pandemic, and can motivate people to compete with each other on media platforms. For example, people are able to openly express their ideas anonymously, and start debates with others on the internet. By doing this, the social tension of physically talking to others is omitted. This way, people are more open about their concerns and opinions, in turn, becoming more emotionally active. This activeness helps to reduce loneliness and create motivation, but it can also result in envy and anger. When people look at the positive things others have experienced, they compare it to their personal experience, and they might feel depressed, angry, or frustrated because their experiences weren't as good as others'. People can also feel this way when they lose a debate with people on social media.
Though social media has shown its benefits during the pandemic, many fail to see its downsides. Once people use social media, it quickly becomes addictive for many because it triggers the pleasure mechanic in our brains. According to IDC's study, almost eighty percent of smartphone owners reach for their phone within 15 minutes, and most of them reach their phone immediately when they wake up. While smartphone users spend hours of their time on social media daily, it overflows people’s brains with information, possibly inducing negative effects. As claimed by a study conducted in 2019 by Michigan State University, this addiction might result in mental preoccupation, inability to focus, emotional shutdown, and many other issues.
In addition to addiction, social media may also result in insufficient physical activity and sleep deprivation. People who are addicted to social media tend to have lower physical activity, which often results in low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. People will also lose their valuable sleep time as they spent several hours on multiple social media platforms. The lost time in sleep will result in a higher risk of experiencing mental illness and side effects such as moodiness, overeating, and reduced productivity.
In conclusion, social media affects people’s mental health heavily, and it’s not necessarily going to be a positive or negative thing, depending on how you use it. People who have strong self-control can moderately use social media positively as a platform to communicate with others and receive information, but people who are addicted to it would most likely suffer from the negative effects of social media.
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