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Editorial: Social Media Is Becoming Destructive

Keeping in touch is no longer a face-to-face interaction, but instead just an easy click away. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any social media app, the way people communicate is transforming.

Over three billion people are now on social media—about 40 percent of the global population—meaning that everyone is constantly able to interact with one another, no matter the distance, according to 2017 statistical data gathered by Hootsuite and We Are Social. Social media has consequently become second nature to much of the world, with users mindlessly swiping up down through their feeds; however, social media has not only altered the way people communicate, but has also shaped the minds of this generation, and not necessarily for the better.

Apps that were created to help people stay connected are actually leading to poor mental health and bad interpersonal communication skills. It has become so easy to get carried away behind a computer screen.

Social media apps have brought the negative effects of online communication forward. Just one click—that’s all it takes to say something horrible and not have to worry about face-to-face confrontation or real-world repercussions.

Instagram is ranked one of the worst social media apps to use for young people’s mental health, according to a report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom. Their study, #Status of Mind, surveyed approximately 1,500 young people aged 14 to 24 on how certain social media platforms impact health and well-being issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identify and body image, according to CNN.

Instagram was high on the list for having negative impacts on users, especially for young women who, like most, compare themselves to others. Photoshop, FaceTune and other apps on the market used to edit pictures make it easier to enhance appearances, sending out unrealistic and false expectations.

Young people who spend more than two hours per day on social networking sites are more likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress, according to the report.

Facebook itself has admitted that spending time on social media is harmful, stating in a 2017 Facebook Newsroom release that “in general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information—reading but not interacting with people—they report feeling worse afterward.” Moreover, an experiment at the University of Michigan found that students who spent 10 minutes on Facebook were feeling worse mentally than when they’d started, and that “passive Facebook usage leads to declines in affective well-being” by “increasing envy.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2011 Clinical Report warns against “Facebook Depression,” saying that the platform and others like it pressure children, adolescents and young adults into wanting to be accepted by their peers and to be connected with them at all times, leading to a constant need to attain perfection that cannot realistically be reached. Harassment, cyberbullying and sexting also contribute to the severity of potential mental damage.

Those who isolate themselves on social media have a more difficult time actively making and maintaining real-world relationships. Humans are social beings and require interaction that’s based in reality and not in the virtual world.

One’s life on social media shouldn’t replace their life outside of it. It’s okay to put down your mobile device and to walk away from it. The world won’t fall apart if you don’t have your phone in your hand every second of every day.