Social networks are more addictive than alcohol, says a new survey report from Royal Society for Public Health(RSPH)
“Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues,” said Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the RSPH
The survey, which takes into account some 1,500 people aged between 14 and 24, has revealed that the popular photo-sharing app Instagram is the worst when it comes to addiction and the aftermath.
Social media channels like Instagram cause anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and bullying, according to the survey. Some have even alleged that the app encourages body shaming, saying that filters and photo-editing options, often to tend to blur the gap between real and reel life, especially among females.
One respondent even said that bullying on Instagram caused severe “depressive episodes and anxiety” and even compelled her to attempt suicide.
Facebook and Snapchat, meanwhile, ranked third and fourth respectively.
But, there is a glimmer of hope still, among all this chaos. While Instagram has been linked with helping many in raising awareness, self-expression, establish self-identity as well as emotional support, Facebook inculcates awareness and helps in building real world relationships, according to the survey.
“Social media has made me able to stay in touch with family and friends whom I would not speak to otherwise. It allows me to keep in contact with my friends on a daily basis,” one of the respondents said. “When I was feeling alone at university with no real friends I saw every day, having access to the support network provided by friends from home over Facebook was more valuable than I can possibly express,” said another.
YouTube is said to be the most positive social media app followed by Twitter. “I have anxiety and on many occasions I have found videos that put how I feel into words and explain it, and this benefits me a lot making me feel more confident,” a respondent said.
In a nutshell, the report reveals both the dark and good side of social media. While the positives include points like easy and quick access to other user’s health experiences and expert health information, emotional support, building relationships and enabling self-expression, the negative side includes anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, body shaming, cyber bullying and fear of missing out.
Social media is no longer simply a tool of communication. While there’s no denying that it is useful, social media may become an addiction, more addictive than even drugs. Giving up on social media is nearly impossible today.
The survey report by RSPH reports something which a lot many of us already know, but, often fail to come to terms with.