Come to think about it, our generation was not as exposed to technological advancements as our children are today. The latest technology is right at their fingertips. Yet, somehow we always find them complaining to us and don’t seem to be getting satisfied.
So were we as parents, wrong to involve technology in their lives? If not then how did it hinder their mental growth and capacity instead of positively impacting human evolution?
The most significant shift in technology was the rise of social media. Remember the good old days where you would log in to an MSN chat room to connect with your friends? Those were just humble beginnings. Ever since then, the internet has become the bane of our existence.
Recently, two studies conducted by an Australian research team showed that increased use of social media and internet dependency amongst adolescents has led to poorer mental health. But do these researches prove that the internet is all bad and there is nothing good to take away from it?
Let’s break down the answer then.
Effects of Technology on Mental Health – The Good, The Bad
Social media feeds insecurity
People become so used to seeing an edited version of everybody’s life online that they don’t stop to think what reality is. The grass always seems greener on the other side, but it shouldn’t lure someone into insecurity. And social media does precisely that. People feel insecure about their own lifestyle after comparing it to others around them.
People even go as far as taking drastic measures to match the lifestyle of their favorite celebrities. Rather than working to improve our own creativity and relieving anxiety, we prefer such ways that feed insecurity, leading to discontentment with one’s life.
Adds to the fear of missing out (FOMO)
Some of you must’ve heard this term from your teenage kids and wondered how the internet has given them power to have their own language. Well certainly that’s true because most of us must have felt this but never known what to call it. FOMO is the fear of being left behind. In exemplary words: not every day is sunshine, picnics, and night clubs! It is essential to understand that just like ourselves, even other people are conscious of what they put out online.
Most of the time, only the special occasions make it to their social media profiles. But it doesn’t stop us from having FOMO. Seeing all the people attend a community concert where you couldn’t make it would lead to FOMO, and this is just an example. People feel FOMO from friends, celebrities, and other people alike. So much so that this phenomenon has been termed after the infamous social media platform Instagram took off.
More susceptibility to anxiety and depression
A study conducted by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden showed links of depression with heavy cell phone usage in young adults. Such studies bare proof that there is no complete guarantee that technology hasn’t led to depression. Take your neighborhood kids as an example and relate to the last time you saw them happily playing outside. Can’t remember anytime recent, eh? That is because they are busy with their cellphones and tablets inside their home, creating susceptibility of increased anxiety.
Negative emotional impact
We stress more about the ’could haves’ than what we already have and it leads to us not managing stress at all. It is a downward spiral from letting a negative thought conspire in your mind. It is not that we don’t feel happy for other people. It is the dissatisfaction we have of our own lives that make us take this negative approach.
Somehow it is in human nature to compare what he owns to what the other person has. Gratitude is not a virtue many people practice, and even then, it seldom works. This creates a void, and these days, social media fills it with a strong negative impulse in people.
People feel more lonely and isolated
Crowd writer conducted a survey, and the results showed that 87% of Millennials had been exposed to the internet for more of their lives than not. And more than 70% of them accepted to feeling lonely and having no real relationships because of social media.
The goal of the latest technology was to bring people closer. Today, the world has become one global colony because of the internet. Anything would be happening at one side of the world but with its impacts outreaching to the other side. Yet, we are more lonely and isolated than ever.
Promotion of community buildup
Technology has given platforms to people to share with and be aware of each other. It has promoted community buildup for all sorts of people who somewhere felt disconnected. Social media has led to greater good of people coming together for any cause and creating awareness. Today you can find dedicated pages on different social media platforms that enable and strengthen communities across borders with its impacts reaching globally.
Enhanced sense of wellbeing
Where there are insecurity and depression, there is a flip side to it too. A study conducted in 2017 by Duke University showed that teenagers who were allowed to connect to social media felt less anxious and more content with their wellbeing. It showed that having a connection with people who value each other’s social media presence enriches the sense of wellbeing in them. So don’t worry parents, it is not your fault entirely after all.
Gives a sense of belonging
People tend to feel a sense of belonging through social media. This is because when people can connect to their friends and family virtually, it enables the feeling of being with them at the moment and sharing sentiments.
Has dramatically increased awareness and acceptance
Now social media platforms have become the number one source of the media outlet and cover almost every aspect of our life. It has greatly influenced our awareness and acceptance threshold. We accept things based on our awareness through social media. And it has impacted how people think in general about things that were previously deemed unacceptable.
We can’t deny that in this digital age and with the new decade on the rise, technology is further going to integrate into our lives. It is healthy to understand both the negative and positive impacts it can have for us and our families as well as the future generations. We should learn to deal with our negative impulses with love. As ultimately the choice is ours to make that which side becomes predominant for us and how do we decide to tackle it.
Amanda Jerelyn is currently working as a Health Care Specialist at Crowd Writer. She has educational experience and knowledge about her field of work. Her passions lie in writing about the topics she covers professionally. Over time, she has built a network of a like-minded audience that shares her interests. She works for raising mental health awareness through her blogs. She wants to make her audience more aware of mental health care. Her professional goal is to make people more flexible towards health care and to engage with other people in doing so.