What makes you happy? Maybe it’s your career, your loved ones, or even your favorite show. What about social media? We’re often given this image of joy on our frequented apps like Facebook and Instagram, but does it actually make us feel that way? Are we happy? Chances are, on social media, we aren’t. Over the years, it has become clear that there are many well-documented, negative effects of social media. Following are just a handful of ways that current social media platforms have been hurting their users.
- Studies show that people who spend significant time on social media are more likely to develop mental health issues (or exacerbate pre-existing ones) than their peers who do not use social media.
This is because sites like Facebook and Instagram allow users to show off the best parts of their lives, while keeping any personal issues offline. Since humans are psychologically predisposed to comparing their own lives to the lives of their peers, people compare both the ups and downs of their lives with a glamourized, highlight-reel of their peers’ lives — and in the process feel down on themselves. A systematic review even found that excessive social media use leads to a measurable decrease in sleep quality, as well as the onset of poor mental health and/or depression/anxiety disorders (Alonzo et al. 365).
- Social media users may also develop FOMO (“fear of missing out”) when they see their friends having fun without them, or feel competitive when their friends and peers get more likes than them.
This vicious cycle of online comparison is only fueled by the trend of online social expansion, with new apps being developed everyday for the same thoughts to perpetuate.
- Cyberbullying, hate speech, and threats of violence pervade every aspect of social media.
In just the fourth quarter of 2020 alone, Facebook removed over 20 million messages that it deemed as hate speech.
- All of the negativity and vitriol online can also translate to real world violence.
The Washington Post reports how, “white-supremacist groups use social media as a tool to distribute their message…when their rhetoric reaches certain people, the online messages can turn into real-life violence”.
- In a similar vein, misinformation and false claims can also be easily spread online through social media platforms.
This is because people can easily posit any claim and have it spread rapidly before it is even fact-checked.
- Finally, it cannot be forgotten that social media companies sell their users’ data.
Not only is this a major breach of privacy, but it also commodifies individuals, as companies value profit first and their users second. Not to mention, social media companies have been the target of cyber attacks, where millions of individuals’ data has been stolen by hackers.
Magnify supports civic learning by embedding active community engagement in a positive, meaningful manner online. Unlike third-party platforms, our private social app incentivizes action and promotes the values of those who matter most: community members. All in all, Magnify is a space specifically designed for real-life change rather than continuous scrolling through surface-level content. Be a part of this change by downloading the app today. Progress starts with you; voice your voice, and help make the change!
Alonzo, R T, et al. “Interplay between Social Media Use, Sleep Quality and Mental Health Outcomes in
Youth: a Systematic Review.” Sleep Medicine, vol. 64, Dec. 2019, p. S365. ScienceDirect,
Hatzipanagos, Rachel. “How Online Hate Turns into Real-life Violence.” The Washington Post. WP
Company, 30 Nov. 2018. Web. 01 June 2021.
Wagner, Kurt. “Facebook Pulls 22.5 Million Hate Speech Posts in Quarter.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg,
11 Aug. 2020. Web. 01 June 2021.