Our Mental Health Crisis Continues


Courtesy of Reviews XP

Some of the top social media apps today. “15-18 spend on average 7 and half hours a day of their phone.

Mental health has been a source of distress for many due to the ever-growing use of social media. As we start the new year, what can be seen from last year that has changed about how people are today? Is using social media as a resource and form of entertainment beneficial? Because social media has become such a vital part of everyone’s lives, how has it affected us and everything around us? 

The social media rise began in the early 2000s starting with well-known platforms such as Myspace and Facebook. Now, over 4 billion people use social media (50% of the world’s population). New platforms such as TikTok gained more and more popularity throughout the years before peaking in 2020. During this time, the pandemic had affected everyone’s use of electronic devices. Using computers to make calls and relying on our phones as a source of entertainment are just a few examples. Because of so many places shutting down due to the risk of spreading or catching a virus, many had to stay home. 

The pandemic created a chain reaction for social media users. A main source of anxiety and depression stems from social media and the fear of missing out. Trends, celebrity drama, and news are all exposed instantaneously to us. Not only interacting with people from all over the world can be not only overwhelming, but also harmful. According to Pew Research, around 81% of all teens use social media, sometimes as an outlet. It is well-known how common cyberbullying is and how it affects everyone differently. In fact, 8 out of 10 individuals are affected by it according to Symantec research. Participating in the internet’s newest trend or even sharing an opinion can turn out to be harmful for anyone. The pandemic allowed people to browse social media more freely than before, which meant active users can band together to bring hate. This has become a source of anxiety for many.

While students come back from practical isolation as the pandemic begins to slow down, how they live may have changed drastically. Psychological distress is characterized as non-specific symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. This can be directly affected towards students’ motivation and drive to succeed. As witnessed in Doherty High School by many, cell phone use became restricted, and absences had more dire consequences because of the number of failing grades and unexcused absences. At a surface level it may just be irresponsible students who cannot function in a school environment. However, the pandemic has affected students in a much deeper way than others may think. The freshmen of today experienced quarantine during some of the most important years of developing their individuality.  

The benefits of social media include and are not limited to communication, educating yourself or others, and staying up to date. Though, just like everything else, moderation is key to taking full advantage of these benefits. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15-18 year olds spend on average 7 ½  hours per day on their phone. Overexposing ourselves to something as addictive as social media can mess with your dopamine levels and getting bored becomes a lot easier.

Although social media has become such a vital part of our lives and one of our main sources of communication, weighing in on the pros and cons and educating ourselves can benefit our usage. Keeping track of screen time and evaluating our relationship to the internet can be a good first step to improving our mental health state.