Social media has been defined by Gruebner et al. as the online applications though which users are able to share and consume content and also engage with each other in various ways (71). Social media sites have in the recent past gained a lot of popularity with a majority of the youths, the younger generation, being the core users of such social networking sites (Gruebner et al. 72). It is undoubtable that the most of the daily lives are centered around the technology and most of the millennials cannot go a day without having logged in on the internet or used their mobile phones in checking the social sites either for information or just retrieval or perusal.
The social media has been the number one way by which the youths in the modern world communicate in today’s world it has become a worldwide phenomenon that the social media is a tool of communication and overrides the way by which people communicate (Gruebner et al. 76). Research has shown that communication of people through the social media sites has grown to become more common as compared to the use of mobile in communication by the millennials. At any given moment of the daily lives, the millions of the youth are logged in the various social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. The creation of imbalance, more especially the excessive use of social media has been a great concern for both the parents and the researchers and also the society at larger regarding the impacts on the physical and mental health of the millennial youths (Leiner et al. 26). More so, the development process of these millennials operates alongside this social media and as such it is an important element when it comes to interaction through the online forums (van der velden 99).
It is however unclear the connection between the changes that occur as a result from the use of social media. Various studies have tried to explain the connection by setting out examples such as was done by Ueda and colleagues in which they showed that media triggered suicidal behaviors in the viewers (625). In their book “Extending the extended self in a digital world”, Sheth & Solomon sought to establish about the digital extended self and does a comparison of the various interrelating aspects such as producer versus consumer, being online versus being offline and most important to this study is that of the body versus technology that will be expounded further herein (123). The purpose of this research is, therefore, to explore the effect that social media has on the physical and mental health of the millennials. So as to accomplish that goal, this research shall establish the connection between social media and the physical and mental health and which is conducted by looking at the social theories so as to establish the connection. Some of the theories that have been looked into deal with the how physical and mental health are impacted by sedentary behaviors among other things.
Overview of the social media use
Social media can be defined as the forms of electronic communication, mainly the websites for social networking, through which its users are able to create a community online and by which they share information, personal messages, ideas and any other content as may be such as videos or photo media (Gruebner et al. 74). Social media has over time skyrocketed within the past many years despite its initial use being in the year 2004. It has now turned out to be a household term despite being a phrase used for over a decade.
Kaya and Bicen in their study established that about 73% of the users on the social network sites, especially Facebook, have varied purposes and who range from the youths to adult majority of whom are from the millennial period (373). In the study, the top five networking sites were identified to be Instagram, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest and in which Facebook was most commonly used and leading by approximately 71% of the total users the majority being the millennials, more so the youths (Kaya and Bicen 374). The users are not only numerous on the Facebook site but they are very active and extremely engaged whereby the study established that about 63% of the users visit it at least once in every single day with about 40% of that figure getting to the back several times in a day. This continuous usage of the social network sites is what establishes the concept of extreme usage of social media and which this study implies as having a greater effect in which it seeks to identify. This is contributed by the highly available smartphones that these millennials can easily access and use them to visit the social media websites or use the various mobile applications to access the sites (Leiner et al. 26). Another study established that about in the year 2014 the number of Facebook users accessing the site were about 300 million and who accessed it using the mobile phones.
Furthermore, in the many sites that are available to access and free use, Facebook being the most commonly used sire and most popular among the youths has over 94% of teenagers who form the larger part of the circle of millennials and who are aged between 12 to 17 years using it as a form through which they communicate to each other (Kaya and Bicen 376). The site has grown to become a huge pandemic as a result of the manner by which the people communicate to each other through instant messaging services and in which they also exchange media and upload individual information. Despite the highly noted detrimental effects with the social media, statistics still indicate that a majority of the people form an uprising community as a form of communication strategy (Livingston et al. 986). In their study they sought to evaluate the impact of social media on the mental health issues. Another study by Nicholas Carr (2008) presents the side effects of relying on the social media and explains that ‘Google’ is making the millennials stupid by making their brains malfunction since they rely on it so much and forget to think on their own. It makes them loose concentration when studying and this directly or indirectly affects their mental capacity levels (Carr 99).
Effects of social media use on physical and mental health
Various studies have attempted to identify the connection that exists between the social media and its negative outcomes such as causing depression, narcissism, loneliness and compulsive behaviors. Social media results to anxiety as has been shown by a variety of studies which link anxiety and compulsive behavior to be an effect of use of social media. A research conducted in Britain in 2012 found out that forty-five percent of the British had worries and felt uncomfortable if they fail to access the social networking sites of their mail. Another study by Rosen and colleagues carried out in the year 2013 found out that these millennials checked in often and this checking-in is defined by the hour or minutes that the users gets back to their messaging or social network sites (Rosen et al. 1243). The young generation has become so much reliant on the social media and their brains have grown to be less functional (Carr 106: Kaya and Bicen 377). This reflects the sort of manifestation that leads to anxiety and the mobile phones which enable access of social media evoke especially to the millennials who are so much obsessed with the frequent checking in to view the messages and other social media sites.
Social media also has the effect of narcissism and which was supported by the study by Rosen et al. which established that the people who engaged so much in the Facebooking activities were highly associated with the fatal consequential effects of displaying high levels of narcissism and which is similarly associated with the lower levels of depressions by the same individuals (Rosen et al. 1247). In as much as there was an identification of reduced levels of depressions, it was not sufficient enough to be counted as an advantage. As research conducted by Rosen et al. argued that the majority of the studies were of the idea the social media exacerbated narcissism and more so the researchers did find out that majority of the users spent more time on Facebook and checked in frequently which was a clear indication that supported the association of social media as having the effect of narcissism (1249).
Social media also has the effect of stress and which affects the mental health of the millennials. The addiction in the present era had greatly increased and when the millennials get to them they do not easily refrain from using it (Malathy and Rani 32). The comments and the likes that are found in the social media sites, especially Facebook, greatly impact these millennials as they use the sites and which makes it so difficult for them to shun away from it. There are those when they access the social media, they tend to compare the lifestyles to those they see online through their friends (Sheth and Solomon 124). The use of social media services such as Facebook and twitter have the effect to make people remain in communication and may be reading a lot of content which might be productive to them on the one side but on the other they might be losing a lot of privacy and discretion. Anxiety has grown to be the one of the many problems that fundamental health faces. People get so fret about the comments made and the many likes they get on the social media of the pictures and videos they upload for the public viewing in the various sites. There is no specific person in the current era among the millennials who might stand the contextual position of the power of social media. The longer the time they spend on the social media, the more they get depressed and as such the use of the social networking sites become minimally helpful to the when it comes to creating a positive impact through reducing stress and maintain focus especially to the students who form the majority of the millennials (Malathy & Rani, 32). A look at the effect of social media are analyzed based on the impact and the positive effects are such as the enhancement of communication access to more information in all relevant fields of study, learning opportunities and socialization. The negative impacts on the other hand are such as cyber bullying, online harassment, depression, sexting, fatigue, decline of intellectual ability, suppression of emotion and stress. The majority of the millennials in the present works are connected through the social media (Livingston et al. 988). The young adults(millennials) are the majority users who are mostly active in the social media and are riskier in developing mental health problems. The use of social media results to acculturative stress among the users especially the students (Kaya and Bicen 376). Similarly, stress has a negative effect on the mental health of students (Carr 118).
This social media also results to depression. A study conducted by Kaya & Bicen with regard to the time the students spend on Facebook and it positively correlated the effects of depression (375). The same findings from the study were supported by the finding established by Rosen et al. which opined that individuals spent much of their time on the social media sites especially those who dealt with the image management in Facebook were shown to experience depression or show signs of depression and many other side effects such as dysthymia, narcissism, bipolar mania, compulsive behaviors and antisocial personality disorders (1250). The younger generation who spent more time on this social media platform had lower adjustment emotionally in their social life and also they showed signs of self-esteem. Various studies have therefore concluded that the use of social media has the negative impact of causing depression among its users (Gruebner et al. 76).
The aspect of effects as regards the physical health are to as a result of the time the millennials use or spend while at the social networking sites. The main effects are such as it tampers the posture and makes one have spinal curvatures, neck pain, headaches, and vertebral disorders. When one is busy on the smartphones and other gadgets accessing the social media for long, the posture suffers such that the bones and muscles are altered. Additionally, the eyesight is affected by the light emitted by the gadgets used to access the social media sites. The longer the millennials are stuck on their phone or computers, the more harm and their retinas are damaged and slowly degenerates their macular and the eyesight is worsened. Disrupted sleep is also another physical effect that emanates from long usage of phones on social media especially since the sleep is one of the most significant factors for one to have a healthy body (van der velden 250). Shortage of sleep tampers body production of melatonin and prevents sleep patterns hence causing issues in health.
Research conducted by Umberson & Montez in 2010 suggested that people who are more socially connected seem to be healthier and as such live longer compared to their peers who are isolated and this is thanks to the smartphone technological advancements (S54). The mental health foundation (MHF) argued that friendship is crucial to protection of the mental and physical health since they depend on the social relations (Umberson and Montez S55). It is through social support that such incidence as loneliness, hopelessness, suicidal attempts, and avoidant coping are done away with (Gruebner et al. 79). Mental and physical health relies on social support for a person to benefit such as from encouragements among other factors (Malathy and Rani 32). Social connection in a more fundamental way fosters the sense of purpose in life or coherence and this eventually enhances mental and physical health.
From the above, it is quite clear that the use of social media has adverse effects and which have consequences especially to the millennials. This paper has explained how the use of social media can affect the millennials in various ways as relates to their physical and mental health. The paper explained the complex relationship that exist between the two correlated relatives, social media and physical and mental health of the millennials. These problems were identified to be among others depression, narcissism, anxiety and which factor down to harassment, cyberbullying, sexting, loneliness, fatigue and declination of intellectual abilities (Carr 119). The millennials are the ones at most risk various measures can be taken do as to counter the effects of social media since in this era it is harder to completely do away with it. Limiting the age limit might be a solution to regulate the association of the millennials with the social media. Those social media applications that are fatal effects such as racism, violence and discrimination should be restricted.
Carr, Nicholas. Is Google making us stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains. Vol. 1. July, 2008.
Gruebner, Oliver, et al. “Big data opportunities for social behavioral and mental health research.” (2017).
Kaya, Tugberk, and Huseyin Bicen. “The effects of social media on students’ behaviors; Facebook as a case study.” Computers in Human Behavior 59 (2016): 374-379.
Leiner, Marie, et al. “Mental and emotional health of children exposed to news media of threats and acts of terrorism: the cumulative and pervasive effects.” Frontiers in pediatrics 4 (2016): 26
Livingston, James D., et al. “Another time point, a different story: one year effects of a social media intervention on the attitudes of young people towards mental health issues.” Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology 49.6 (2014): 985-990
Malathy, M., and M. Rani. “How Social Media Creates an Impact in our Mental, Physical Health and Culture–Portrayal of Social Mobile Media Culture Technology in India.” “Portrayal of Social Issues in Literature and Media”, February 2018: 32.
Rosen, Larry D., et al. “Is Facebook creating “iDisorders”? The link between clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders and technology use, attitudes and anxiety.” Computers in Human Behavior 29.3 (2013): 1243-1254.
Sheth, Jagdish N., and Michael R. Solomon. “Extending the extended self in a digital world.” Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice 22.2 (2014): 123-132.
Ueda, Michiko, Kota Mori, and Tetsuya Matsubayashi. “The effects of media reports of suicides by well-known figures between 1989 and 2010 in Japan.” International journal of epidemiology 43.2 (2014): 623-629.
Umberson, Debra, and Jennifer Karas Montez. “Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy.” Journal of health and social behavior 51.1_suppl (2010): S54-S66.
van der Velden, Peter G., et al. “Does social networking sites use predict mental health and sleep problems when prior problems and loneliness are taken into account? A population-based prospective study.” Computers in Human Behavior (2018).