No doubt you know what these symbols mean? I mean it is 2017 after all…
Social media has been the latest phenomenon in shaping the way in which people connect.
It allows people to express themselves freely and it’s also been incredibly popular for entertainment. Most of the population is now connected by social media in some way, but it would be hard to deny that nobody is more connected than the younger generation.
Should we be concerned?
In 25 years the rates of anxiety and depression in young people has risen by a staggering 70% and social media is thought to be one major contributing factor.
Not to mention the fact that a tap on those apps has been described as being more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol.
Instagram was rated as the most damaging to the health and well-being of young people.
This comes as no surprise to me. With 23 filters to choose from as well as the numerous editing features for the perfect look, it is no wonder Insta is having a negative impact on both girls and boys body image. Not to mention the “like” culture, which can either boost or lower an individual’s self-esteem (although Instagram is not the only app guilty of this).
But is social media improving health?
Yet amongst these concerns, the report also described some benefits of connecting on social media.
It found that young people report improved access to other people’s experiences of health and expert health information, as well as feeling more emotionally supported by their contacts.
To me, this is a great platform to build on. It can help in reducing the stigma that may come with poor mental health. It can also be used to improve the ways in which young people are educated on social media in schools, encouraging them to use this source as a supportive network. It also highlights the influence social media can have in health promotion and how health information is delivered, in order to help protect the population’s health.
The report recognises this and has some recommendations.
These include having safer social media education in PSHE lessons, for social media bosses to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated and to introduce pop-up ‘heavy usage’ warnings.
My favourite recommendation is for calling social media platforms to identify users who are suffering from mental health concerns by their posts, and discreetly signposting them to support. Thus ensuring more people are offered the support they may need.
It is inevitable that people will continue to “like” social media – I mean who can blame them, it has allowed us to connect with the world like never before.
I just hope that health services, social media bosses and PSHE teachers take on board the recommendations made to help protect those around us and for the general public to make a conscious effort to support one another on their networks.