ook at a bubbling sound speaking child, sitting like a statue while holding a digital device and her loving mother feeds her nutritional feed keenly. Look at young teens sitting in a group with their heads down on the screens playing PUBG online games, investing time and money without caring for the consequences. Look at some parents who seem very much busy with the news feeds popping up in their digital devices without noticing the loneliness of their children. All what it depicts? Comfort in the sea of technology or unnecessary addiction. No doubt, mobile devices have become part of our life. We get the real time news, the moments that turn our life into a happy one, connected with our loved ones and a lot more. However, the addiction over social media is altogether dangerous and effective.
Such addiction has found growing at an unexpected and alarming rate for the past few months. Everyone irrespective of age and colour is seen posting, liking, commenting and sharing the moments as addicts of social media. Wasting all the time and space in scrolling continuously at the news feeds of social media at such a pace. Social media should not be our whole priority over all things. Lot of other chores are to be met otherwise scores of irreversible consequences will surround us tightly and will not let us live freely from too much suffocation. There is a big gap between social media usage and its addiction.
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The former is much less harmful than the latter. Social media reflects an online platform, which people use to build social networks or social relationships with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backgrounds or real life connections. According to the communication theory of uses and gratifications, an increasing number of individuals are looking at the internet and social media to fulfil cognitive, affective, personal integrative, social integrative and tension free needs. Bigger names of companies are using social media as a way to learn about potential employees’ personalities and behaviour. The social media craze has become an increasingly popular activity that has chained the hands of users in a fashionable way.
The said addiction is a sort of behavioural addiction that is characterised as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on or use social media and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas. The social media platforms produce the same neural circuitry as caused by gambling and recreational drugs to keep consumers using their products as much as possible. Neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine injected straight into the system. Social media use becomes much problematic when someone views social networking sites as an important coping mechanism to relieve stress, loneliness or depression. Social media use provides these individuals with continuous rewards that they are not receiving in real life so they end up engaging in the activity more and more.
This continuous use eventually leads to multiple interpersonal problems such as ignoring real life relationships, work or school responsibilities and physical health, which may then exacerbate an individual’s undesirable moods. This then causes people to engage in the social networking behaviour even more as a way of relieving dysphonic mood states. Excessive social media use can not only cause unhappiness and a general dissatisfaction with life in users but also increase the risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Those children who spend three or more hours a day on social media exhibit symptoms of poor mental health. Overuse of social networking sites is much more problematic in children and young adults because their brains and social skills are still developing. A study performed by California state university found that individuals who visited any social media site at least 58 times per week were 3 times more likely to feel socially isolated and depressed compared to those who used social media fewer than 9 times per week. The competition for attention and likes on social media, can even lead to online bullying. Teenage girls are at particular risk for cyber bullying through use of social media. However, boys are not immune. Overuse of social media hampers physical, mental and spiritual health of the people.
Adolescents spending more and more time on social media are prone to restrict physical activities, obesity, and insomnia, eyesight-related problems, body aches and so forth. Parents spend very less time with their children than on social media causing poor physical as well as mental health of children. The recent reports of blue whale challenge game deaths from various parts of India especially among the adolescents and young adults, also related to overuse of social media.
Using social media is in no way harmful but the nature and magnitude of usage creates alarm bells ringing around our heads. Using the said media to spread hate, racism, vulgarity, disrespectful and sentiments is what we call bad use of social media. Even using social media in a good state for a long time is unhealthy. It is high time for us to make optimum usage of said media in a good sense such that we could be safe both from health hazards as well as from cyber bullying.
Syed Tajamul Hussain Simnani hails from Drabgam, Pulwama. He can be mailed at email@example.com