In 2018, 70% of Internet users use Facebook, 40% use Instagram, and 25% use Twitter. Once you log onto a social media site, create your profile, and start to scroll through the seemingly endless page of posts, you’re hooked. Social media sites, designed to catch the user like a fish, are an amazing concept on the surface. They allow you to interact with friends and family without simply going to see them in person. But below the surface lie a list of health risks as long as the list of posts a user’s so-called ‘friends’ have created. These risks involve depression, addiction, and countless others.
Today, thousands suffer from depression caused by social media. According to CommonSenseMedia.com, teens spend an average of more than 6 hours on social media. In 2015, teen suicide rates more than doubled-only .7% of teens were admitted to a hospital because of attempted suicide or self-harm in 2008. That number rose to 1.8 in 2015. On the Internet, people can be anonymous, which makes them believe anything they say online cannot and will not hurt them.
This leads to online bullying and harassment with no end in sight. Suicide can also be caused by adults pretending to be teenagers on social media, getting children to come to their house, and doing terrible things to them. Though the process can take years, it is still a real problem in the modern world, and it still contributes to teen suicides.
Supplementing the number of media-related depression is another problem: Addiction. It is estimated that over 210 million people ( around 3% ) are addicted to social media. 71% of people sleep with their phones next to them, 10% of teens check their phones more than ten times a night, and as of 2017, the average person spends 135 minutes per day looking at social media. Several articles including those on
TheGuardian.com agree that social media is comparable to drugs, with the user experiencing withdrawal when taken away from their precious Instagram page, and needing more and more ‘likes’ to be satisfied each time they post. Yet the people who make social media scarcely use it. Even Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, has a team of people who post and delete comments for him. Is this because he can’t afford to become addicted to the platform himself?
Social media users don’t see the problem with their favorite websites. They’re fine with logging in to view their friend’s latest post. They’re fine with pulling out their phone during dinner, during a conversation, or any time they’re not at their computer. It helps them communicate with friends who can’t come over, plan events easily, and make new friends. But where does our society draw the line? People start tweeting in the middle of a business meeting, or in the middle of dinner with a close friend.
This can lead to jobs and friends being lost. The ‘friends’ they make on Facebook barely know them, and are rarely who they say they are. People on the Internet can suffer abuse and bullying coming from all sides, and the ones responsible could be victims themselves. Nobody wants to admit that they’ve been hurt, so the number of online abuse victims rises. All while they could be having a nice, phone-less dinner with their friends.
Social media is the invention of the century, with thousands, possibly millions using it in the time it would take for a few hundred people to jump onto another trend’s bandwagon. Though most of today’s world accepts it unthinkingly, it poses major risks, such as addiction. This can lead to depression, self-harm, and even suicide. The number of deaths and hospitalizations related to social media is rising, and it’s time for the world to unplug.