I feel like there's a bit of a theme to what I'm writing this week, but mental health and its relationship with social media is all over the news at the moment. This most recent story comes as no shock whatsoever!
It really gets me thinking about how social media has evolved over time and whether we predicted it would develop into the phenomenon that it has become.
I'm part of the MSN generation. Is anyone else part of that? I'd beg my parents to let me go on there at night after school, usually after dinnertime. It must have started around the age of 13 or so - could be earlier but my memory is lacking. Looking back, it was totally obsessive and incredibly anti-social. I'd spend as long as I was allowed, shut in the office of my parents house waiting for my friends to 'sign in'. The arguments we used to have when my parents needed the phone were quite extraordinary - in those days, you couldn't use the internet and have an open phone line at the same time!
I remember having a Hi5, Bebo and a Myspace account long before I discovered Facebook (or for what felt like a long time in teenage years!) When Facebook came along I hated it! I didn't get it at all, but it didn't take long before that became the new obsession and MSN died a death.
Back then, I don't think I could have ever predicted that social media would become such a huge part of everyday life for people, but maybe that was youth and naivety. In 2007 you couldn't even fathom being able to access websites from your phone! From then to now, the internet and social has totally spiraled out of control - there are almost no boundaries to where developers will go - and it's no wonder that the impact on mental health for young people has been so huge. It's gone from simple sharing and communication, to OVER-sharing and a kind of desperation to show that your life is so great and everything in it is so beautiful. No one lives like that. NO ONE. I think as long as you're aware of this and not obsessed by it, you're generally fine, but I can see how people can quite quickly get dragged into the black hole it creates.
I'm very conscious though, that whilst there is a lot about this in the media, we shouldn't give social media all the credit. It's important to note that mental health has been around a lot longer, and whilst it's great that awareness is at an all time high, I don't think social media is solely to blame. I think it's a major contributor to a lot of the problems faced by young people today and I think it can exacerbate existing issues.
What do you think?
Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact. The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.