Depression, the 3rd most common incurable disease of the 21st century and yet the subject remains a taboo in our society. In this fast-pacing world, we fail to grasp the importance of mental health and the triggers of mental health issues are often ignored. But if we just pause for a brief second and look around us, what we will realize is that most of the triggers are quite obvious and they are damaging our youth in every possible way. One of the many triggers of depression include social media platforms that have become the most essential part of digital era. The question arises, ‘are these platforms really responsible for causing depression in adolescents? And if so, in what ways they prove to be damaging?’
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram & Twitter have contributed a great deal in aiding the world to establish human connections and even in bringing national revolutions. But our youth has paid a high price for being connected. The main purpose of these platforms is to keep the audience engaged and online as long as possible. For this, addictive and attractive content is used as a bait without taking into account the impact it would have on the person’s life outside the social media.
By becoming part of the addictive cycle of social media, an adolescent is driven into a cyber life of unrealistic glamour and this makes him lose touch with reality. As he spends more and more time on social media, he tries to seek solace in connecting online rather in real life. This makes him form unrealistic comparisons & make him drift away from reality. Most of the profiles on social media depict the ‘edited’ happy side of life and the real aspects are greatly camouflaged. The race of becoming the most appealing profile makes him feel left-out. People start to develop self-esteem issues, irritability and mood disorders. Another dark aspect of social media is one which involves cyberbullying and hate speech. Almost everyone, at some point in this life, has become a target of this. Just this last year, we lost a life to cyberbullying where a young aspiring model committed suicide as she was being bullied for the choice of her career. One of many lives that we lost to this horrendous grind of social media.
In addition to this, youth tries to seek approval by likes, reacts and excessive personal messages. At times when some of them fail to achieve the self-created standards of being validated, they start sinking into depression. They feel rejected, less valued and misfit for the world of social media. On the other hand, some of them are targeted through personal messages and harassed on these platforms. The adolescent develops a pattern of recurring thoughts about death and giving in. The list of drastic effects of social media on mental health can go on but it is high time that we take preventive measures to control the progressive damage.
The use of social media can never be completely eradicated but it can be controlled. Parents need to provide an open space for real life communication and make sure they don’t hinder the growth of their child in the real world. Moreover, social media platforms must have content filters and cyber laws to regulate these platforms. Organizations should pave way for youth to seek help if they feel threatened by these platforms or overwhelmed by depressing thoughts. Lastly, each one of us is responsible for the person sitting next to us. So we need to make sure, we step up to save those who cannot save themselves.