Introduction to the Chapter: The focus of this research study is the influence of social media on mental health and psychosocial development. Media multitasking, usually with social media, has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety and overall decline in mental health. This study will evaluate current research theories and findings about the effects of social media on cognitive and psychosocial functioning.
The goal is to determine if the pervasive culture of social media could be a contributing factor to increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and impaired psychosocial development, especially in the adolescent population. Background of the topic: Social media sites have grown exponentially in recent years. Participation in these sites is a common activity of children and adolescents as well as adults. These sites offer means of entertainment and communication, but social media changes the way we perceive our social reality and interact with others.
There are several benefits to using social media, but there is also a risk of negative effects. It has been proposed that increased use of social media may be a factor that could trigger depression and social anxiety. In turn, a person feeling depressed or socially isolated may seek out sites or blogs of others with similar issues, some of which foster destructive behavior or perpetuate the cycle of depression by creating a feeling of community and social connection around their common symptoms.
There is also concern that prevailing social media use is replacing face-to-face interaction, resulting in lower quality social interactions and deficits in social development. This is illustrated, for example, by a group of teenagers hanging out but looking at their phones rather than paying attention to each other. Recent reports suggest that media multitasking may be associated with impairment in cognitive processes including concentration and attention control, which are related to psychosocial functioning.
Because of the rapid emergence and increasing popularity of these sites, there is reason to explore the negative effects of social media use on cognitive and psychosocial development. Problem Statement: Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions which have become more prevalent in the recent decades. Several different factors may influence this trend, but the recent explosion of social media may play an important role. Depression and social anxiety have both been associated with media usage and attentional control.
How does predominant use of social media affect cognitive and social development in the youth and adolescent population? How does it affect psychosocial behavior and interpersonal relationships in adults? Could increased use of social media be a risk factor for developing depression and social anxiety? Are the amount of time spent or type of media used important factors in its influence on mental health? The evident shift in how people engage with media and online social platforms is important in understanding the relationship between media use and mental health.
Professional Significance: My major is Psychology. Healthy social development is an important factor in psychological health and well-being. Understanding how media affects perception and cognitive processes is important in helping people process feelings about themselves and others, and resolve internal and external conflicts. Examining the way media use impacts mental health is important in determining how to effectively reduce risk, recognize, and treat anxiety and depression that may be associated with it.
Overview of Methodology: A search will be done of published research and professional studies that have been conducted on social media in the context of psychology. Scholarly sources, statistical trends, and published literature will be reviewed to explore the correlation between increased media use and increased risk of depression and anxiety. Research on current findings will be analyzed to evaluate whether the increase in popularity and access to social media could be a causal factor in the growing rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Delimitations: This study has limitations which may detract from its consistency and validity. First, the study relies on research data determined by the results of others. The explosion of social media has only emerged in recent decades so studies may be limited. Also, the effects of social media on psychosocial development will be most evident in children and adolescents since adults, depending on their age, have developed most of their cognitive processes and social behaviors prior to the age of social media.
Because psychological disorders can’t be scientifically measured, most studies will rely on participants’ self-reports and observations of behavior and symptoms to draw research conclusions. Genetics, natural temperament age, race, gender and other factors, as well as life circumstances greatly influence the risk of a person developing depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders, so results may vary. Conclusions must be drawn from reputable sources and take the variables of each study into account.
Definition of Terms: There are some terms which will need defining and clarification. Anxiety- Uncomfortable state of inner turmoil accompanied by fear and nervous behavior Depression- A persistent state of low mood that results in reduced ability to enjoy life. Symptoms include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, or lowered selfesteem; trouble concentrating; reduced energy or disturbance in sleep and appetite; decrease or loss of ability to take pleasure in usually enjoyable activities. Major Depression.
The diagnosis given to a person whose pervasive feelings of sadness, fatigue, hopelessness or despair disrupts development or ability to function in daily life. Media Multitasking- Simultaneously interacting with more than one form of media. Psychosocial Relating to psychological development in interaction with social environment. Social Anxiety- Discomfort or fear felt in social situations. Social Media- Programs, websites and applications that allow people to create and share information and participate in virtual communities and social networking.
Summary: Studies have reported associations between heavy media use and mental health problems. Frequently multitasking with social media is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety, and may contribute to attention problems and impaired cognitive functioning. As technology and media rapidly advance, it’s pertinent to explore the effects of increasing social media in the context of psychology. Understanding the relationship between social media and mental health is central to learning how to minimize the negative impacts of increased media use.