Date Published: 16 November 2017

Concerns about the health impact of social media

Concerns about over use of social media are not new. As many of the most popular social media platforms have increased in popularity over the last decade various concerns have been expressed about, for example, the increasing amount of time some people spend looking at social media accounts on electronic devices rather than interacting in person or even by telephone or video conferencing. More serious health concerns have also been raised, particularly about the possible mental health effects on some young people who might feel inferior to others in their peer group who regularly post about enjoying an enviable lifestyle in one way or another, or who include fashionable photographs of themselves or post unkind opinions about others. The list goes on and sadly includes some extreme cases of online bullying. That is not to suggest that all use of social media is bad or unhealthy.

It is no surprise that the American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a new policy highlighting the negative health impacts of some uses of social media. According to a statement on the AMA website1 most American adults (68%) and American teenagers (71%) use Facebook. Overall, many people check some form of social media at least once a day.

The AMA has drawn attention to a:

"... notable link between increased use of social media and increased levels of anxiety and depression".1

It went on to mention that the American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a large amount of time on social media sites, and advises parents to talk to their children and adolescents about online use. That might be easier to suggest than to do effectively. In order to help to deal with the challenges of social media use by young people, the new AMA policy urges schools to provide safe and effective educational programs through which students can learn to identify and mitigate the onset of mental health impacts caused by social media usage.

" According to research conducted by Pew, across the country, nearly a quarter of teens are online 'almost constantly,' and 92% go online every day," said AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH.

" Social media has the power to bring people closer together and to build communities, but research also is showing a link between increased social media use and an uptick in anxiety and depression. In addition to increasing awareness of these dangers among parents and teens, we must do more in our schools to identify and address them as early as possible."

The AMA provided further insight into the extent of social media use by citing statistics from Pew2 whose findings the AMA reported as:

Among American teens:

  • 52% use Instagram
  • 41% use Snapchat

Among the 68% of American adults who use Facebook:

  • 76% check their account daily

Among American teens:

  • 52% use Instagram
  • 41% use Snapchat

Among the 68% of American adults who use Facebook:

  • 76% check their account daily

Although yesterday's statement from the AMA didn't include statistics about the use of Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit and Pinterest and so on, all such social media platforms, which could also be thought of as 'online communities', are included in the general expression 'social media'. These 'platforms', 'networks' or 'technologies' (various generic descriptions are used) are structured online meeting places whose content, whether that consists of text, photos / images, videos, audio streams, and any associated out-going links, is contributed by users.

Also in the News:

Psychological benefits of different types of natural environments - 2 Nov '17

Research confirms that good moods are contagious. Depression isn't. - 21 Sep '17

Report says 65% Britons surveyed report experience of mental health challenges - 8 May '17

Combining motivational interviewing with cognitive behavioural therapy to treat anxiety - 23 Mar '16

Schizophrenia - Aerobic exercise found to improve cognitive functioning - 23 Mar '15

Ageing: Diabetes and depression predict dementia risk - 20 Feb '15

Cognitive therapy found safe to treat schizophrenia - 6 Feb '14

Mental Health of older people in debt - 27 Jan '14

Angel Heiglot is associated with snow storms and is said to rule the first hour of the day.

This is not medical, First Aid or other advice and is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment. Consult an expert in person. Care has been taken when compiling this page but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This material is copyright.

IvyRose Holistic Health 2003-2017.