Updated: Aug 28, 2019
This week has seen both the BBC and ITV run stories about the impact of social media on the mental health of our young adults. It is a fact that we have a generation of children who have grown up viewing life through a lens... whether it’s studying other people’s activities, communicating or capturing every aspect to share of their own lives ... everything is visible and being watched and the net never sleeps.
I have written before about different impacts social media has ... and I am always careful to advocate that there are some fabulous positives – the ability to keep in touch and reconnect with individuals, information at our finger tips. The web and its associated worlds are truly a wonderful thing... but we are now in a position to have research in some of the medium to long term effects living in the spot light is having… and to see whether there is a direct correlation between the use of social media and the increase in mental health challenges , self-harm , eating disorders and general requests for mental health support which has been seen in recent years.
Here is what we do know ...
There is no doubt that having everything about yourself available and seeing everyone else’s world creates a feeling of being vulnerable. Comparitonitus is the new word ... where we constantly look at what others are doing, eating, wearing, looking like and succeeding in and judging ourselves against them.
It’s so important to remember that many people (myself included) share the positive aspects of life. We focus on what is going well and that snap shot is not reflective of other stresses in our lives.
...It’s vital to hold in our conscious that the photos are generally filtered, and images altered to make them more appealing – lets remember that photo shop bodies are obtained via a computer not through real life and a lot of companies are still very selective of the types of models they choose to represent their products. This is not what every day folks look like ... it’s not even what the models look like.
We know everyone is an expert and we are flooded with advice on what to wear and dangerously what to eat. …
.. What you wear should not be based on what designers and media want you to buy – it’s not about you looking good... it’s a multi- billion-dollar business that is all about retail and sales.
A lot of the individuals giving advice on food and eating are in no way qualified – they are again there because they are a face to make sales and promote a company. Food fads just like fashion trends come and go ... and frustratingly the media then make it very clear you are no longer in the cool group if are still following last season’s way of living.
For both of the above get some professional advice. Find out what suits you, find out what foods are healthy for you ... enjoy looking at the pictures but follow your own path!
A big point to remember is that because you are viewing life on line everything is filtered for you. In the old days we looked in books and we discovered information that we would never have come across or chosen – it gave us a wider insight actually in to the outside world.
Outside of our own views and beliefs. Nowadays algorithms look at what you search for and then start feeding you information relevant to this. how often have you looked at something on line from a shop and the suddenly in your separate social media feed there appears an advert as if by magic?
Although the web is huge your information is actually limited. So, if you are a young person who is comparing yourself to super glossy images and life styles ... you will get more of this in your feed... and this can drive further your feelings of comparitonitus and in some cases feelings of dissatisfaction and of course it can impact your sense of sense and your self-esteem.
A final word of warning that of course not everyone is who they appear to be. We have heard distressing cases recently of young people accessing images that promote self-harm ... often put forward in a way which appears to be a supportive forum but will very much have the other person agenda at the heart of it. It is vital that the on lie world and associated companies take responsibility for the images which are shared and that we look to find ways to protect our young people from messages they may not have full clarity on.
Our sense of self is platform on which we view the world from ... it is balancing act of processing incoming information and deciding how that relates to how we feel about ourselves. ... let us enjoy what the web has to offer and understand that this is the way of the world now. but not be drawn into simply seeing life through what is in fact a very filtered lens.
If you need support and would like to raise your self esteem then please do get in touch via the contact me page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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