In the past decade, society has witnessed a dramatic upsurge in the use and application of social networking. Similarly, there has been an evident increase in mental health issues across the globe. This particular paper explores the relationship between social networking and mental health. Applying Repko and Szostak’s interdisciplinary research process and theory, the paper analyzes the effects of social media on mental health from both sociological and psychological perspectives. Current research in both psychology and sociology showcase a connection between increased social networking and deteriorated mental health. Specifically, sociology investigates the effects of relationships and interactions in social media on behavior and, subsequently, mental health, while psychology focuses on how social networking affects behavior and brain processing. The paper borrows from social theories and individuals theories to explore why and how social media affects mental. The paper concludes psychology and sociology complement and supplements each other in the study of the effects of social media on mental health. Additionally, the article emphasizes the importance of future longitudinal studies in the area to establish if indeed, there is causality between increased social media usage and mental health deterioration.
In the past decade, social networking has witnessed an intermittent development in quantity, quality, and usage. The use of social media sites is one of the most popular activities for present generations. Indeed, the mobile scrolling posture- head down, finger on the mobile screen, and micro-expressions on the face-is one of the most common human postures. More than 3.3 billion individuals across the globe use social networking sites drawing attention to the extent of the adverse use of social media (Bashir & Bhat, 2017). The extreme application of social media is a great source of unease for researchers, particularly psychologists and sociologists, as it relates to the mental health and well-being of individuals. Though inquiry results showcase an association between augmented social media use and increased mental health issues, these studies fail to explicitly illustrate how social media use is linked to cases of increased mental health problems.
The current article intends to explore the impact of social networking on mental health from both a psychological and a sociological perspective. At a psychological level, the paper investigates the effect of social media on the psychological processes of individuals and as a result, their mental health and well-being. From a sociological perspective, the popular acknowledges the amount of time people spend online and how they engage and interact on social networking sites and how these interactions can cause mental health problems. Moreover, the paper explores the effect of deteriorating mental health on society at large. To conclusively analyze the impact of social media on mental health, the investigator accesses and synthesizes current literature relating to social networking, mental health, and the individual and social notions that illuminate the connection between social media and mental health. An interdisciplinary approach is necessary for addressing the effect of social networking on mental health since the two disciplines, psychology and sociology, provide a comprehensive analysis of the issue as compared to relying on one or the either.
Social Networking: An overview (Sociological overview)
According to Smith (2013), social networking encompasses types of electronic communication associated with the creation of online communities that allow the users to share info, ideas, messages, pictures, and videos, among other materials. Social networking is often used synonymously with the term social media. The word social media was initially used less than two decades ago in 2004. However, currently, the decade-old expression is a household name. Statistics indicate that currently, more than 73 percent of adults use a social media application of some kind (Rohilla & Kumar, 2015). Indeed, whether individuals are sharing a cute video of a puppy on Instagram or images from a bridal shower on Facebook, it seems individuals are more connected than ever.
There are several social networking sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, 9Gag, Snapchat, MySpace, Hi5, Bebo, Google, and Vine, among others. Research indicates over the past decade, Facebook continues to remain the most popular site (Rosen, Whaling, Rab, Carrier, & Cheever, 2013). Moreover, the application’s users are not only many but also very active. Statistics indicate more than 70 percent of Facebook’s consumers visit the app at the very least once every day, and more than 40% visiting the site multiple times each day. The active and continuous usage of social networking applications is associated with the upsurge in technology since the dawn of the 21st century. As smartphones, tablets, and laptops grow more popular, many social media consumers have the resources to access their preferred sites whenever the mood strikes them.
It is irrefutable that social media is astonishingly popular across the globe. One may question why individuals are motivated to use social networking sites. According to Tamir and Mitchell (2012), the self-disclosure related to social media stimulates the inherent reward scheme of the mind in an almost similar mechanism as ultimate rewards such as food. People use social media sites for innumerable reasons including but not limited to keeping open communication channels with friends and families, connecting with new people, reading comments on superstars and politicians, and finding romantic spouses. A research that focused on reasons why individuals use Facebook concluded that many people use the social networking site to satiate their need to fit in and for the self-presentation. The study argued that Facebook profiles assist people in gratifying their need for self-confidence and self-integrity (Rosen, Whaling, Rab, Carrier, & Cheever, 2013). It is conclusive the extensive use of social media is associated with various reasons rooted in an individual gaining a sense of belonging and a place for self-presentation.
Empirical Review of Literature
While the use of social media is valuable, particularly as a basis of social support and knowledge attainment, growing evidence showcases an adverse connotation between social media and mental health. Indeed, a multitude of conceivable probable overriding paths relates mental health to the quantity of time spent on social media and the way individuals interact in those particular sites. Mental health is a significant community health issue, which poses considerable societal and economic problems globally. The World Health Organization describes mental health as the “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community” (World Health Organization, 2013).
Numerous studies showcase an association between social networking and negative mental health consequences such as depression, anxiety, compulsive behavior, loneliness, and narcissism, among others. A research in 1995 provided 93 households that had no prior internet involvement with internet access and followed their mental health over the cause of several years. The results of the study indicated internet access increases cases of depression and loneliness (Rohilla & Kumar, 2015). A more recent research in 2013 that focused on 1143 college-aged students who were active Facebook users concluded extensive use of Facebook was associated with depression, dysthymia, bipolar-mania, narcissism, anti-personality disorder, and compulsive behavior (Rohilla & Kumar, 2015). Recently, the term iDisorder has been coined to reflect on the negative association between mental health and technology.
Social Media and Stress
In current society, most individuals are obsessed with and addicted to social media. The number of followers, friends, comments, and likes on the different social networking sites work as positive reinforcements making it challenging to quit social media. However, people end up comparing their lives with the perfect lives of their friends and followers and end up fretting and stressing about things that they would otherwise not stress about. Park, Song, and Lee (2014) concluded that social media applications such as Instagram are positively associated with the acculturative stress on the mental health of young adults and adolescents. Stress adversely influence mental health and well-being.
Social Media and Loneliness
One of the most recognized advantages of social media is the fact that it provides opportunities and platforms for socialization. Surprisingly, greater connectivity is associated with high levels of loneliness among social media users. Isolation describes the discrepancy between the preferred level and the current level of social interactions in a person’s life. According to Yao and Zhong (2014), the continuous, obsessive, and compulsive use of social networking sites enhances loneliness and more so emotional loneliness among young adults.
Social Media and Low self-esteem
Social networking sites make individuals susceptible to the development of low self-esteem. A person’s self-esteem might be affected by the receipt of deleterious comments and bad comparisons on their posts. Moreover, in the current society, there is an abundance of manipulated images portraying the idealized beauty standards which adversely influence social media users’ opinions of their bodies. Poor perception of one-self and low self-esteem are associated with various mental health issues.
Social Media and Anxiety
A multitude of research links social networking and anxiety and compulsive behavior. According to Rosen et al. (2013), young adults check in often (defined as every hour, every fifteen minutes or every time) with their different social media accounts. Most young people are anxious to access their social media pages and messages that a new medical term, phantom vibration syndrome, has been coined. Phantom vibration syndrome describes a perceived vibration from a smartphone that, in reality, is not vibrating (Kelly, Zilanawala, Booker, & Sacker, 2018). The phenomenon occurs among a large group of people and pinpoints the anxiety associated with social networking. Indeed, phantom vibration syndrome is an exhibition of stress, particularly among people infatuated with checking on their social media accounts and messages.
Social Media and Depression
Social networking is an agent that not only heightens but also nourishes mental health issues. Excessive use of social media leads to disastrous implications that often begin with a little stress, then proceeds to anxiety, which leads to depression and associated mental health issues. A Croatian study established an association between time spent on Facebook and depression among high school students (Pantic, I et al., 2012). The findings of the study were collaborated by Rosen et al. (2013), who showcased individuals who spend more time on Facebook and actively participated in image management, showcased more medical symptoms of depression. More intense Facebook usage increases the chances of loneliness and as such depression. Active involvement on social media sites with many friends implies lower emotional adjustment to real life, thus isolation, which can develop to clinical depression.
Social Media and Narcissism
A narcissistic personality disorder is associated with a great sense of officiousness, vanity, shallow relationship, among other fantasies related to a sense of self-importance. According to Rosen et al. (2013), social media exacerbate narcissism. The results of the study showcased more time spent on Facebook, and a higher incidence of checking one’s timeline is associated with higher narcissism scores. However, in an extraordinary twist, the research showcased more time spent on Facebook corresponded with high levels of narcissism but lower levels of depression. However, the lower levels of depression n are not a positive impact since narcissistic personality is accompanied by a grandiose sense of overconfidence and might be the reason for lower levels of depression.
Social Media and Cyber Bullying
Some common ways that social media impacts mental health include experiences of online harassment, which adversely affect both the victim and the perpetrator’s mental health and well-being. Undeniably, convenience associated with social media allows individuals to share materials that can damage reputation and relationship comfortably.
Social Media and Sleep Deprivation
Additionally, the majority of social media users sleep in close vicinity to their phones, and sleep is directly linked to mental health and well-being. All devices used to access various social media sites such as smartphones and laptops emit high levels of blue light, which adversely affect sleeping patterns (Kelly, Zilanawala, Booker, & Sacker, 2018). Particularly, bedtime exposure to blue light interferes with the body’s circadian rhythm, which manages the sleep cycle. Indeed, the blue light from devices suppresses melatonin secretion, making it difficult for an individual to fall asleep.
Social networking affects sleeping patterns in several ways, including spending a lot of time online rather than sleeping, which leads to reduced sleep period, incoming alerts at night cause sleep disruptions. Similarly, sleep quantity and quality might be adversely affected by levels of anxiety and worrying associated with diverse experiences on different social networking sites.
It is also vital to recognize that there might be a cyclic relationship between social media and mental health. Individuals with mental health issues might prefer to use social media for prolonged periods to escape the realities of their lives.
How Social Media Affects Mental Health: Sociological and Psychological Theories
Acknowledging social media and mental health are related is merely a starting point. It is crucial to investigate and comprehend how and why social media impacts mental health is the next natural step in illustrating the psychological and social connections at play between and among online users, their environments, and, subsequently, the role of social media on mental health. This particular section of the paper puts forth several theories, both social and individual, that may explain how social media affects mental health. Individual theories concentrate on how social media alters an individual’s behavior and character mannerisms as such, analyzing the effect of social media on mental health from broadly a psychological perspective. The social theories, on the other hand, acknowledge the social relationships amongst social media users and by extension, how social networking adversely affects mental health. It is essential to recognize these two theoretical standpoints are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, as mentioned, the only way the effect of social media on mental health can be analyzed in entirety is to approach the issue from both a psychological and sociological perspective.
Individual theories (Psychological perspective)
Sedentary Behaviors and Mental Health
Sedentary behaviors are undertakings that encompass sitting and lying down and are often associated with a low Metabolic Equivalent Total (MET) energy expenditure. Sedentary behavior includes a range of deeds such as computer use, playing video games, watching television, among other forms of passive recreation. Typically, an individual uses social media on their smartphones or computer while passing the time during a sedentary activity. Sedentary behaviors exhilarated by social media are linked to a variety of physical and mental health risks, including but not limited to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and depressive and anxiety disorders. Studies indicate individuals with high levels of sedentary behaviors are more susceptible to developing depression. De Wit et al. (2011) concluded that individuals with major depressive and panic disorders spend a bulk of their time using their computers and watching television as compared to their counterparts who spent less time online.
Displaced Behavior Theory
The theory argues that individuals who spend most of their time on various social media sites have less time for active face to face interactions and physical activities, both of which have been documented as fundamental in protecting against mental health disorders. Therefore, the displaced behavior theory asserts that it is not social networking in itself that results in mental health issues but rather the lack of dedication to other activities, particularly active leisure activities (Wortham, 2011). Statistics indicate that the majority of social media users, irrespective of age, spend an average of three to four hours a day on the various social media sites (Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, 2013). The average number of hours spent on social media is even higher for young adults. One in every five individuals aged between 18 and 24 years spend more than six hours each day on social media (Economic and Social Research Council, 2013). As mentioned, spending time online on various social media accounts encourage sedentary behaviors. Since sedentary behavior replaces physical activity and exercise, it is deductive social media plays a role in mental health issues.
Physical activities and exercises allow individuals to form real relationships as they interact face to face with each other, which works in the prevention and management of various mental health issues such as depression. Apart from providing social support, physical activities reduce the risk of mental illness through physiological pathways. Particularly, energy-intensive activities activate endorphin secretion, which works to reduce pain and produce a euphoric sensation, as such, decreasing the chances of mental health issues. Moreover, psychologists assert that exercising in addition to other physical activities is vital in alleviating the majority of the symptoms of mental illness (De Wit, Van, Lamers, Cuijpers, & Penninx, 2011). For instance, some of the symptoms for depression are somatic, that is, disturbed sleep, fatigue, diminished appetite, among others (Wortham, 2011). Exercising might improve appetite and increase sleep duration and quantity as such vital in managing signs of depression. Therefore, it is evident as more and more people dedicate time to social networking sites, they are replacing physical activities with sedentary activities and subsequently adversely affecting mental health.
Moreover, sedentary activities such as using social media, reduce face to face interactions. Indeed, the displaced behavior theory asserts that social media use is replacing face to face interactions and its associated benefits. The social withdrawal hypothesis coincides with the displaced theory argument (Wortham, 2011). The premise asserts that the more an individual engages in sedentary activities such as watching television, the more that person consciously and unconsciously removes themselves from active social interaction and by extension, risk depression.
Social media use encourages and appreciates raid task switching from posting to commenting to watching is recognized as one of the causes of depression. Undeniably, while multitasking s a beneficial trait in virtually all aspects of human life, the technological advancements associated with social media have encouraged multitasking to become a mode of operation rather than an occasional necessity (Rosen, Whaling, Rab, Carrier, & Cheever, 2013). Multitasking causes pressure to an individual, which increases anxiety and stress and as such, depression.
Social Theories (Sociological perspective on how social networking causes mental health issues)
In recent years, a significant area in sociology focuses on the causes and effects of mental illness. From a sociological perspective, the roots of mental health issues include but not limited to social statuses and stress (Wheaton, 2001). As such, it is vital to analyze how and why social media emphasizes social statuses and stress and by extension, acknowledge how social media causes mental illness. The social stress theory argues that mental health issues are often caused by exposure to social stress that largely depends on the social status of an individual in addition to early life experiences (Mossakowski, 2012). The theory also asserts that mental illness is also a result of vulnerability to stress, which encompasses a limited ability to cope in stressful situations due to low levels of social support and self-esteem. As mentioned, social media is highly associated with stress and associated elements. Therefore, it is deductive social media causes mental health issues.
Social theories explore how social networking affects people as they associate with each other on social media platforms and a larger dynamic. Social theories generally argue social media affect mental health by prompting how individuals perceive, uphold, and interact on social media platforms. Umberson and Montez (2010) maintain over the past centuries, captors have used the concept of social isolation to torture individuals. It is undeniable human beings crave social associations. Although social isolation is healthy, it might result in mental and physical disintegration and other cases, death.
Social associations are crucial in protecting individual mental health; therefore, it is deductible the quantity and quality of social relationships influence mental health, health conduct, physical health, and mortality risk. Research indicates social support can reduce hopelessness, subdue loneliness, reinforce positive states of mind, and discourage avoidant coping. Indeed, social separation and destructive social connections are linked to depression and in some cases, suicide. For a long time, social isolation has long been known as a prompt for mental health problems, while supportive social relationships are beneficial. It is evident social relationships play an essential role in bolstering mental health (Umberson & Montez, 2010). However, it is vital to realize quality is more important than quantity. Social media enforces the concept of quantity rather than quality. For instance, individuals on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among other social networking sites, are obsessed with the number of followers and friends. Concentrating on quantity illustrates that many individuals ignore quality as such, ending up feeling socially isolated despite being active in several social networking sites.
The quality of social media relationships gives an impression of the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Indeed, social networking sites emphasize some of the shallowest associations. Relationships between family and friends are merely depicted through tagging individuals in posts, liking their post, and commenting on their posts. One of the ways social media is affecting social interactions is by changing the privacy associated with relationships (William, 2011). The associations individuals have on social media platforms are visible to many users, often resulting in loss of privacy. The lack of privacy results in undesirable relationship effects such as the online and offline relational intrusion. Undeniably, the lack of privacy illustrates that a relationship that has blossomed online is held on a particular pedestal, putting pressure on the relationship.
Additionally, the lack of privacy implies that the social status of an individual is visible to all their friends and followers. In recent years, young people, who are the most active social media, often focus on making their posts as perfect as possible to showcase a better social status. Essentially, social media exacerbate relationship problems that would otherwise not occur in offline relationships.
Besides, in social media interactions, it is not easy for one to express himself or herself, not to mention one might be misrepresented or misconstrued. Social networking interactions occur at an online platform with few face to face interactions. Without face to face interactions, individuals interacting in social media have limited communication cues that, to no small extent, increase the risk of miscommunication (Moreno & Lopez de Roda, 2003). Miscommunication and misunderstanding increase the vulnerability to stress, which is one of the causes of mental health issues according to the social stress theory.
The fear of missing out also influences how individuals perceive their social relationships. Firstly, fear controls constant connectivity making it challenging for people to stop checking their devices. It creates anxiety making it difficult for individuals to be contented in a particular situation since many desire the exciting activities of their friends (Kelly, Zilanawala, Booker, & Sacker, 2018). TAs mentioned social status is one of the reasons for mental health problems. The majority of the individuals in social networking sites often focus on posting about the best versions of their lives without portraying their low days, a factor that creates a lot of pressure. Many individuals end up being dissatisfied with their lives, which increases stress and anxiety levels that can develop severe mental health issues such as clinical depression. The fear of missing also creates a feeling of ill-treatment and rejection; see-through social media one can explicitly know if their friends are spending time without them. Indeed, the convenience associated with social media allows individuals irrespective of location and time of day to share videos and pictures, which further creates social pressure.
Social media also allows for social comparison, which poses a significant threat to the well-being of social media users. Research indicates social networking is linked to increased social assessment, which increases anxiety issues while diminishing self-esteem and self-image. Chou and Edge (2012), in their study, concluded that many social media users felt others were happier than they were and that life is not fair. The majority of social networking sites allow individuals to post an unlimited number of pictures and videos. Each image and video pinpoints the social status of a particular social media user and by extension, how other users perceive their situation in real life. Therefore, the fact that social media allows for social comparison might be the reason for the recent increase in mental health issues across the globe.
Research also shows social media adversely affects romantic relationships primarily due to amplified distrust, partner scrutiny, and obsessive internet use (Pantic, 2014). Social networking sites provide an avenue and a platform for couples to not only interact with each other but also monitor the activities of each other. Partner scrutiny, in most cases, increases cases of mistrust among couples and, subsequently, stress and anxiety level. Research indicates unlike other relationships such as familial and friendships, not getting along with one’s partner is associated with several psychiatric disorders (Pantic, I et al., 2012). Additionally, as individuals spend more time on social media accounts, they are exposed to complex material related to a romantic relationship, which increases paranoia and by extension, jealousy. Since social networking sites allow individuals to share opinions openly, social media users are often exposed to diverse ideas as it relates to romantic relationships (Ono et al., 2011). Various issues arise in a romantic relationship when one or both partners embrace a perception that differs from what they already know. Paranoia and jealousy in a relationship might lead to extensive stress and, subsequently, various mental health issues. Moreover, social media applications offer a platform for communication with former partners, which might lead to resentment.
Social stress theory recognizes earlier life experiences as a determinant of mental health problems (Mossakowski, 2012). Statistics indicate that many adults, including a majority of parents, are active in various social media sites (Economic and Social Research Council, 2013). While social media is relevant in providing practical and useful parenting advice, in some instances, it causes adverse effects on parents and, subsequently, the lives of many children. For example, the obsessiveness with connectivity might make a parent more focused a social media while ignoring not only the physical but also the emotional needs of the children. Additionally, parents often get unsolicited advice from social networking sites that affect parenting styles. It is vital to recognize earlier life experiences are linked to mental health issues since developing children are at a particularly vulnerable point, necessitating a productive environment that is not influenced by bad advice from social networking sites.
The paper applied Repko and Szostak’s interdisciplinary research process and analysis. Multidisciplinary research is a decision-making, heuristic, iterative, and reflective process that provides insights on how two or three variables relate to each other and the disciplines in question (Repko & Szostak, 2016). Notably, in this case, the researcher focuses on the effects of social networking on mental health from both a psychological and sociological perspective.
After identifying the issue and the relevant disciplines, the subject being the effect of social media on mental health, and the disciplines being psychology and sociology, the paper proceeded to define the problem and justify the use of the interdisciplinary approach in the introduction section. The researcher then conducted a literature search for adequate information in both the sociology and psychology disciplines. The researcher then proceeded to integrate insights from the two subjects on the effect of social media on mental health. Particularly, since social media is primarily associated with sociology while mental health is an important topic in psychology, the paper focused on conflicting perspectives as it relates to the effect of social media on mental health. Primarily, the paper develops a common ground in the views of both sociology and psychology on the impact of social media on mental health. Repko and Szostak (2016) describe common ground as a natural step in interdisciplinary communication. Therefore, the paper conclusively provides insights on the effect of social media on mental health from both sociological and psychological perspectives.
Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society while psychology describes the scientific study of the mind, behavior, and associated factors. While each of the two disciplines is independently developed into their status quos, in recent years, many researchers acknowledge the extensive relations between the two disciples as it relates to various variables. On an issue such as the effect of social media on mental health, it is evident that both psychology and sociology are at a play. Indeed, the development, usage, and application of social media are predominantly sociological issues, while mental health is a psychological one (Cohen, 2004). Therefore, it is deductive the two disciplines supplement and complements each other in the current study.
Throughout the literature review, it is evident sociology and psychology often collaborate, making it difficult to distinguish their perspectives on the effect of social networking on mental health. However, there are various conflicting opinions that both disciplines put forth on the impact of social media on mental health. Notably, from a psychological perspective, social media disrupts behavior, whether through influencing sedentary or displaced behaviors as such disrupting activities of the mind causing mental health issues that might start with mere stress and anxiety to severe mental illness such as clinical depression (Moreno & Lopez de Roda, 2003). Sociology, on the other hand, asserts that social media affects mental illness through disrupting the socialization patterns of an individual, which in turn affects their behavior and, subsequently, mental health.
Moreover, several sociology theories argue that social media is essential in facilitating the socialization patterns of individuals, thus crucial in the management and prevention of mental health issues (Ono et al., 2011). Indeed, many sociologists acknowledge the advantages of social media in providing social support (Uchino, 2004). However, at no particular point does psychology recognizes the importance of social media on mental health. The psychological perspective asserts that the advantages of social media in the socialization paradigm are undercut with the fact that many social media users focus on quantity rather than quality when it comes to relationships, which creates illusions that cannot hold in the real-world connections.
Despite the conflicting perceptions of how social media affects mental health, sociology, and psychology complement and supplement each other in the investigation of how social media affects mental health. The description and development of social networking sites is predominantly a sociological topic. Sociology acknowledges how the technological advancements associated with the dawn of the 21st century have influenced the development of devices such as smartphones and laptops that can access the internet and associated applications such as Twitter and Facebook. On the effect of social networking on mental health, sociology argues social media affects how individuals interact with each other and, subsequently, their behavior (Bashir & Bhat, 2017). When the issue of behavior comes into play, psychology comes in to showcase how certain behaviors affect the activities of the mind as such resulting in mental health issues.
Essentially, the socialization characteristics associated with social media lead to the development and in some instances worsening of mental health issues. From a sociological perspective, social media influences how individuals perceive their social status in addition to increased vulnerability to mental illness due to a lack of adequate social support (Tamir & Mitchell, 2012). Specifically, social media lacks privacy, encourage social comparison, facilitate relationship scrutiny, which works to diminish the quality of relationships and interactions on social media. Upon the decline of quality of relationships, individuals focus on the superficial aspects of social media relationships and interactions which influence their behaviors (Ono et al., 2011). As mentioned, psychology deals with the development of the mind and certain behaviors, implying when certain behaviors come into play, the psychological perspective is evident.
For instance, social media users are often anxious to check their phones, creating anxiety, not to mention stress. Similarly, the social comparison also leads to anxiety in addition to body image issues and low self-esteem. Stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body image issues might develop to life-threatening mental illnesses such as depression (Chou & Edge, 2012). Moreover, the superficial nature of a majority of social media relationships leads to loneliness, which can also progress to depression and can be fatal if not addressed. Correspondingly, seemingly shallow relationships on social media characterized and quantified by the number of friends, followers, likes, and comments lead to narcissistic behavior, which develops to narcissistic personality disorder (Rosen, Whaling, Rab, Carrier, & Cheever, 2013). Addressing the effect of social media on mental health from both psychological and sociological perspectives provide insight into the socialization processes associated with social networking and proceeds to reflect on the impact of these interactions on individuals’ behaviors and, subsequently, the effect of their behaviors on their mental health.
Conclusion and Recommendations
This particular paper focused on the effects of social media on mental health from both psychological and sociological perspectives. The topic in itself showcases the importance of the research since it focuses on the potentially harmful effects of social networking, one of the most common activities in the current society, on mental health. As previously mentioned, mental health has devastating consequences not only to the functioning of the patient but also to his or her immediate family and subsequently at large. Undeniably, the importance of continued research on the importance of the topic cannot be overstated.
In the literature review section, the paper took a sociological perspective to showcase how the nature of relationships and interactions on social networking sites affect behavior and, subsequently, mental health through focusing on social theories. Additionally, the paper applied individual theories, which are predominantly psychological theories, to showcase how certain behaviors associated with social media lead to the development of mental health issues. By focusing on various approaches, the paper reflects on the complicated relationship between social networking and mental health.
However, it is essential to acknowledge that throughout the literature review, that paper, in some instances, failed to provide explicitly distinct roles of psychological and sociological perspectives on the topic. Indeed, the limitation of the study lies in the fact that when it comes to the effect of social media on mental health, differentiating psychological and sociological aspects is a rather daunting task since the two disciplines highly supplement and complement each other on this particular topic.
Moreover, another shortcoming of this particular paper and the research at large on the effect of social media on mental health is evident in the inability to examine all the aspects that not only influence but also contribute to the association between social networking and mental health simultaneously. Since social media has grown popular over the past two decades, social networking research is relatively new, and as such, most of the existing literature as it pertains to the issue is exploratory. Exploring the relationship between social media and mental health is particularly challenging, considering the complex nature of the relationship. Specifically, despite applying and borrowing from both the psychological and sociological perspective, it is vital to acknowledge that causality has not been proven, and many of the theories and conclusions provided here-in are merely potential explanations for an observed association.
Recognizing the importance of the topic in question, it is crucial to increase public awareness. While social media is an essential tool, particularly in knowledge acquisition, individuals need to acknowledge that nothing exists without adverse consequences. Public outreach will allow individuals, particularly young adults, to make educated decisions on how to use social media to maximize the advantages while reducing the disadvantages associated with it. Indeed, if caregivers, parents, and even adults are aware of the adverse consequences associated with social media, they can create healthy social media habits.
Pragmatic recommendations are dedicated to not only young adults and parents but also to health practitioners. The exploration of the theories in the current paper illustrated it is beneficial for healthcare providers to be aware of the role of social networking as a potential cause or outcome of mental health issues. Moreover, it is only through understanding the risks associated with social networking will social media users be motivated to self-monitor their behavior regarding social media use and application.
Future studies on the topic should continue to explore the effects of social media on mental health to recognize if there is causality. Indeed, more research is necessary to establish precisely why there is a connection between social networking and mental health in efforts of guarding against the issue. More longitudinal rather than exploratory research is necessary for analyzing the connection overtime and in understanding both short and long-term effects of social media.
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