Have you ever thought of the number of hours you spend on social media? There is Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, just to name a few.
Social media is defined as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.
Social media was created to expand communities online and in the real world. Unfortunately, the evidence states that social media has negative effects on the mental health of anybody who uses it more often than necessary.
“There’s no question kids are missing out on very critical social skills. In a way, texting and online communicating—it’s not like it creates a nonverbal learning disability, but it puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible,” according to Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist. “Brains continue to grow and develop until around the age of 25 or 26. As teenagers, their brains are learning how to hint on social cues from face-to-face contact. When behind a phone or computer screen they are putting on a mask with no eyes.”
There are varying opinions when it comes to social media in the lives of different generations.
Throughout the United States, you continue to see social media growing in popularity
with the coming generations. Teenagers and young adults continue to walk around with their noses buried in their phones.
Arturo Sanchez, a college student, recognized what social media was doing to his social life.
“I realized I had spent too much time on social media. I was behind in the game compared to most of my friends, but when I found how addicting it could be, I had spent around five to seven hours a day on it,” explained Sanchez. “Honestly, it distracted me from really important things, like homework and my girlfriend. So, I deleted my Facebook app on my phone to take away the temptation to go on. I have found that I have so much more time for activities and I feel happier.”
Jesse Gutierrez, a father of two, is a big advocate of social media.
“Twitter is great. I don’t really post or like anything on there, but I am on it a lot. Probably around two to three hours, at the most, every day. I just go on there to get news and Broncos information,” commented Gutierrez.
Gutierrez is a middle-aged man who is fascinated by communication between two or more parties. He had been reluctant to jump on the social media train when it first started to become popular.
“Since everyone was using it, I was very stubborn in starting it. It also seemed pretty stupid to be honest,” reflected Gutierrez.
When asked about if social media could hinder communication between parties in the future, he stated that he couldn’t see how it could be possible. Human communication skills are developed at a young age, from birth to around age two. Since those skills are developed at such a young age, Gutierrez doesn’t see how a 2-year-old could understand enough about social media to develop bad habits. Unfortunately, there are sources that disagree.
Sonya Hazen, a hypnotherapist, explained that there are many different causes of this addiction.
“From what I have seen with some of my clients, there is a root problem with their addiction to social media. Most of the time, they consist of low self-esteem or depression. The problem for them is that social media continues to add to those problems,” Hazen related.
When asked about her social media life, she said that it is hard for her to understand why it is so popular among the youth.
“I think it might be because I know what the motivations are behind the addictions to social media. Most of the time, one’s self-esteem is low, so they look to social media to get the most ‘likes’, or whatever it is called,” Hazen relented. “Right now, my life is what I want it to be. I don’t need attention from those around me to make me happy. I have my grandchildren and my children to keep me happy in this world, not the virtual world.”
Whether experienced or inexperienced, opinions vary about social media. So when you are walking outside or sitting on the bus, think about the everyone around you with their noses buried in their phones. Put yours away and go outside to enjoy this fresh spring air.