To what extent does social media affect the health of the youth?

As per the Cambridge dictionary, “Social media consists of websites and computer programs that allow people to communicate and share information on the internet using a computer or mobile phone”. The usage of social media has grown multifold. In 2021, there were 4.48 billion people actively using social media in the world, a rapid increase from 3.69 billion in 2020. Back in 2015, there were only 2.07 billion users. Almost 38% of the world’s population uses social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. While weighing the impact, the research shows that it has had a profound impact on its users, with 32% of children suffering from anxiety due to social media, teenagers with 5+ hours of social media usage were more than 70% likely to have trouble sleeping but on the other hand, it makes youngsters feel connected to their friends and family and increases their cognitive capacity. The area of influence is huge therefore making it important to study the impact on the youth.

 Issue 1 – Impact on Mental health: 

Mental health refers to behavioural and emotional well-being. It is related to how people think, feel, and behave. Social media was first introduced to connect people however it has evolved over the years and has impacted the mental well-being of millions of people positively and negatively. It is a large-scale problem as a large number of teens are affected as shown by a survey conducted by The American Academy Of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The survey showed that 90% of teens (13-17) use social media. 75% of people who use the internet report having at least one active social media profile, and 51% report visiting a social media site at least daily. Additionally, two-thirds of American teen social media users say social networking sites help them to interact with people from different backgrounds, making them aware of different cultures and traditions from around the world and increasing their acceptance towards them. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of American teens on social media say they have met new friends on a social media platform indicating that it connects people with common interests or personalities. This aids in reducing loneliness and boosting mental health. Connecting to some cultures which may be more accepting, open-minded and aware could be beneficial.