A recent conversation I had went like this:
Me: I don’t use Facebook or Instagram.
Me: Two reasons, I think they are negatively impacting our mental health, and I have concerns about their privacy policies.
The conversation ended there, but I want to dissect my answer here. Let’s dig in.
Social Media and Mental Health
Anecdotally, I know that social media is terrible for humans’ mental health. How could it not be? It certainly isn’t healthy to scroll thru a curated feed of everyone’s best lives on Instagram or read the misinformation that Facebook may or may not be trying to curb.
How often do you go on social media? Those likes and notifications can cause a rush of dopamine that is fantastic, but how much time is too much time? According to Statista, users in the U.S. spend 65 minutes a day on social media (eMarketer. “Average Daily Time Spent on Social Networks by Users in The United States from 2018 to 2022 (in Minutes).” Statista, Statista Inc., 11 Mar 2021, https://www-statista-com.libproxy.temple.edu/statistics/1018324/us-users-daily-social-media-minutes/). This is a marketing masters program, so that’s an hour and five minutes for the math-challenged out there.
An hour and 5 minutes daily. Think about what you could do with an hour and five minutes. Workout, Chores, Read a Book, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, you get the point. That is an hour and 5 minutes of your day. I know most of us don’t get 8 hours of sleep, so I’ll assume 6.5 hours to be conservative. That means there are 17.5 hours in the day that we are awake, and we’re spending an hour of that on social media. Back to the topic.
A study (Primack, BA and Shensa, A and Escobar-Viera, Cesar G. and Barrett, Erica and Sidani, JE and Colditz, JB and James, A. Everette (2017) Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69. ) found that the use of multiple (more than 2) social media platforms is associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety among young adults. I find this to be concerning, especially considering that depression can lead to suicide, and according to the WHO, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression) , or young adults.
We don’t even have to rely on research studies and scholarly articles to prove something is going on here. Facebook was again in hot water because internal research has uncovered that Instagram usage can be toxic for adolescent girls. I’m sure the other platforms have similar data on their effect on their user’s mental health; it’s only a matter of time until the public uncovers it.
So social media is terrible for mental health. Does that mean you shouldn’t use it? I believe that you could live without it, but I know that won’t happen. Instead, I offer some tips to curb your social media addiction.
- GET THE APPS OFF YOUR PHONE – we will talk about this in the next section as it relates to privacy
- Instead of liking a picture of Becky on her recent vacay to the Grand Canyon, CALL OR TEXT her and ask how it went. Yes, social media was built to keep us closer together (and later abused by corporations), but really, you have your Facebook friend’s phone number. Shoot them a text. That is a more personal and human connection than a stupid like will give you.
Social Media and Privacy
Terms and Conditions. I don’t read them; you don’t read them. No one reads them. We certainly should, but in our instant gratification world, they are simply a hurdle; also I don’t want to read 20 pages of something before I sign up.
Did you know that you give Facebook royalty-free permission to use your content for whatever they please?
Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings).
That’s going to be a no from me, dawg. What if I come up with a genius post, and FB uses it in a commercial and get more users and advertisers on the platform. I want a cut of that!! Speaking of ads, Facebook can use your photos in advertisements for the product.
Permission to use your name, profile picture, and information about your actions with ads and sponsored content: You give us permission to use your name and profile picture and information about actions you have taken on Facebook next to or in connection with ads, offers, and other sponsored content that we display across our Products, without any compensation to you.
Suppose you have an adorable child, and Facebook uses it in an ad – well, just ask the Nirvana baby how that went.
Those are simply two small examples of the terms and conditions we may be accepting. Check out some more from CNBC here.
The problem here is the business model of social media. These platforms are generally free, which means the users are the product. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., all make money by selling your data to advertisers so they can get in front of you.
Maybe you don’t care; maybe you just want to keep virtually poking your friends. I’m certainly not here to tell you what to do. I hope users become more conscious of the access to themselves they are giving away. I believe the world could live without social media, and once I finish my delorian, I will prove that.
As Mark Cuban would say, “For those reasons, I’m out.” on Social Media.
Primack, BA and Shensa, A and Escobar-Viera, Cesar G. and Barrett, Erica and Sidani, JE and Colditz, JB and James, A. Everette (2017) Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69.
Srivastava, Kalpana, et al. “Social media and mental health challenges.” Industrial Psychiatry Journal, vol. 28, no. 2, July-Dec. 2019, p. 155. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A647058277/AONE?u=temple_main&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=06392cbd. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
Feder KA, Riehm KE, Mojtabai R. Is There an Association Between Social Media Use and Mental Health? The Timing of Confounding Measurement Matters—Reply. JAMA Psychiatry. 2020;77(4):438. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.4503
Barry CT, Sidoti CL, Briggs SM, Reiter SR, Lindsey RA. Adolescent social media use and mental health from adolescent and parent perspectives. J Adolesc. 2017 Dec;61:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.08.005. Epub 2017 Sep 5. PMID: 28886571.