Social Media is the new slot machine

Hanson 1 Social Media is the new slot machine. III. You hear oftenthat too much social media is unehalthy, parents try to keep their kids off of it, and people complain often that the media feeds false narratives. So why then do we keep coming back and getting further sucked into its negativity. ( According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S. use social media.) (See Reference page) This puts a considerable amount of the population at an inflated risk of feeling anxious, depressed, or ill over their social media use. How many of you are embarrassed by your screen time? Or have personally felt the negative effects of social media usage? I have. My weekly screen time report pops up on my phone and I do not think I process the gravity of the amount of time I spend on it. (According to the latest available data, the average person spends 6 hours and 58 minutes per day on screens connected to the internet.) (See references) What's a healthy amount of screen time for adults? Experts say adults should limit screen time outside of work to less than two hours per day . Now why is social media so detrimental to our health? Firstly social media has been linked to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Social media is also incredibly addicting, it has been compared to slot machines, we will look further into the science behind social media addiction later on, lastly, social media has led to a decrease in personal privacy which can be incredibly dangerous. II. (A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal (link is external and opens in a new window) revealed that Facebook was aware of mental health risks linked to the use of its Instagram app but kept those findings secret. ) (See References)( Inner research by the social media giant discovered that Instagram heightened body image issues for one in three teenage girls, and all teenage users of the app linked it to feelings of anxiety and depression. It isn't the first evidence of social media's harms. Human beings need face-to-face contact to be mentally fit. Nothing reduces stress and boosts your mood faster or more effectively than eye-to-eye contact with someone who cares about you.
Hanson 2 The more you prioritize social media interaction over in-person relationships, the more you're at risk for developing or exacerbating mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. ) ( See references ) Social media lets you see the carefully selected best parts of everyone else's lives, which you then compare to the negatives in your own life (that only you see). Comparing yourself to other people is a sure path to anxiety and unhappiness, and social media has made this much easier to do. Social media often encourages people to compare themselves with others, leading to feelings of envy and dissatisfaction. This can harm mental health and well-being and can lead to depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. (See References) Social media can be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. It has a powerful draw for many people that leads to them checking it all the time without even thinking about it. If you're not sure whether you're addicted to social networks, try to remember the last time you went a full day without checking any social media accounts. Do you feel rejected if someone unfollows you? And if your favorite social networks completely disappeared tomorrow, would the absence make you feel empty and depressed? Social media has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain's reward center by releasing dopamine, a "feel-good chemical" linked to pleasurable activities such as sex, food, and social interaction. The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments. But what makes users come back for more even when it can make them feel sick? "When the outcome is unpredictable, the behavior is more likely to repeat. Think of a slot machine: if game players knew they never were going to get money by playing the game, then they never would play," Sperling says. "The idea of a potential future reward keeps the machines in use. The same goes for social media sites. One does not know how many likes a picture will get, who will 'like' the picture, and
Hanson 3 when the picture will receive likes. The unknown outcome and the possibility of a desired outcome can keep users engaged with the sites." In terms of privacy, we all see that social media has opened up the hunting grounds for sex trafficking, child pornography, and kidnapping in general. Social media platforms collect vast amounts of personal data, which can be sold to third-party companies or used for targeted advertising. This can lead to a decrease in privacy, and people's personal information can be misused by others. III. Social media has been used effectively for years for connecting with friends, entertainment, and to see what is happening in the world. However, for many people posts on social media can become distracting, and addicting, and often lead to negative self-worth or obstructed self-image. Social media has many dangers in terms of privacy and addiction as well as overall mental health. I urge everyone to evaluate any negative effects social media has had on your mental health. Referenced:
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