Social Media is now an integral part of many people’s lives but has recently been ridiculed for its negative impact on certain individuals. From Facebook to Anorexic sites, researchers are finding severe repercussions of the effects of social networks.
According to a study, most Australians spend an average of 22 hours per week on social media, which is nearly an entire day dedicated to scrolling through social networks.
Initially sites like Facebook were praised for breaking down the barriers of social communication and allowing us all to stay in touch with friends from all over the world. However, recent studies show that many of us leave Facebook feeling worse about ourselves.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found that with the positives of social networking comes myriad negatives.
“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it,” said the researchers (via BBC Technology).
Results from the study showed the more an individual used Facebook, the worse they felt about themselves afterwards.
More than three-quarters said they shared good things with their communities on the site, while 36% said they would share bad things on Facebook as well.
In a similar vein, 14-year-old Hannah Smith from the UK recently committed suicide after alleged cyber-bullying on social media site ask.fm. Supposedly, users wrote to Hannah to ‘Die’ and ‘Drink Bleach’. However, the site recently released that 98% of the abusive messages came from Hannah’s own IP address.
Digital self- harm is a term that social media researcher Danah Boyd uses to describe those that lash out at themselves online, rather than other people.
Digital self-harm is more explicitly expressed on websites, which are pro- anorexia such as Myproana, allowing users to communicate and exchange ideas on anorexia and Bulimia.
One user, along with a bony naked picture wrote to other uses ‘I am not diagnosed with anything like Ana (anorexia) or mia (bulimia) or depression
I tend to keep it a secret. But once my parents found out I ate normal for a while and now I am just hiding everything and being even more secretive…’
Clearly there are many more issues with social media than initially anticipated. However, there are limitations on how it can be restricted.
Perhaps a global impartial organization should be set up with the powers not to control social media sites, but to deal with the issues social networks impose on everyday individuals.
Suicide Prevention lines in Australia:
- Lifeline 24 hour crisis support -13 11 14
- Suicide Prevention Foundation (24/7) – 1800 HOLDON (1800 465 366)
- Suicide Callback - 1300 659 467 in every State (available 24 hours a day)
Or visit Beyondblue.org.au
International Suicide Prevention Information: