Do you want to uncover and learn how to handle social media risks? If the answer is Yes, then this article will be very helpful. While social media plays a vital role in our daily lives, it can also create stress, anxiety, isolation, and sadness. Acknowledging these hazards for yourself and those close to you is very important. This article delves into the potential risks of social media use and offers practical strategies to manage those risks. So don’t let social media’s negative aspects take over your and your loved ones’ psyche.
Why Do People Use Social Media?
Although social media has adverse effects, it remains popular for multiple reasons. Some people don’t know how harmful it can be, while others don’t see that they are addicted. In addition, a psychological inclination keeps people scrolling through the feeds, even when they acknowledge its negative impact. This has also been confirmed by research confirming it. For example, Facebook users often experience negative emotions while using the platform regularly.
The Risks of Social Media
Discover how social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat can affect users with varying degrees of adverse outcomes. While some issues apply to general internet usage, social media behaviors can lead to unique problems. For instance, taking a selfie can reduce self-esteem and increase social sensitivity. Remember that although some research only associates these issues with social media, it does not establish a definite causal relationship.
Social media can impact different areas of our lives, from emotional wellbeing to physical health. For example, research shows it leads to anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness, envy, low self-esteem, poor sleep quality, and addiction to specific platforms. In addition, it can interfere with essential obligations such as schoolwork and expose us to misinformation, privacy violations, and political polarization. In extreme cases, it may even contribute to cyberbullying. Thus we need to be aware of these potential side effects to ensure we use social media in a healthy and balanced way.
Social media usage is increasingly associated with physical health issues like back pain, headache, etc. It affects physical health in the following ways.
- Posture: People often use social media while lying in bed, on a chair, or leaning on one side. Also, they hold their phones long while checking what others are posting. This may cause pain and problems to palms, wrists, shoulders, etc. Further, all these postures cause short and chronic neck, back, and hands pain, which may ultimately lead to permanent injury.
- Eyes: The phone commonly should be held 18-20 inches away from the eyes to avoid problems. But most people scroll their feeds while lying in bed and often keep their phones very close to their eyes. This can lead to severe problems with the eyesight. Besides, it may also cause dark circles and dry eyes.
- Sleep Cycle: It is seen that most people use social media at night after coming from work, office, etc. Thus the time before bed becomes their leisure time. People scroll social media feeds or chat with others, ignoring their sleep time. Many people stay late at night, endlessly stuck watching short videos. The blue light emitted by the screen also suppresses the release of melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle), disrupts the sleep cycle, and causes insomnia over time.
- Radiation: Mobile phones’ radiofrequency (RF) radiation causes cancer and other diseases. Although there is no solid evidence confirming this, it is still better to be aware of any possibilities of health hazards.
- Accidents: There have been multiple new reports about how people trying to take pictures for social media posts or short video creators have been part of many accidents. This includes falling from a building, being run over by vehicles, etc. Further, people who scroll their feeds while driving are becoming a significant cause of road accidents. People take increasing and outrageous risks and undergo dangerous surgeries to boost their social media presence. This is neither good for individuals nor for society.
You must also note that since people spend the majority time on social media thus mostly mobile usage has been considered social media use in this case.
- Anxiety & Depression: Social media increases loneliness and risk-taking behavior and has effects similar to substance abuse. It also leads to eating disorders, lower self-esteem, dissatisfaction with life, and high levels of neuroticism or narcissism among people. For example, it is seen that people post the best things on social media, the best-looking pictures, the happy moments of life, achievements & awards, etc. This leads to lower self-esteem in a few people who start thinking that everyone else is living a prosperous, happy, and beautiful life except them. Besides, the use of social media can also be associated with increased suicide rates.
- Loneliness: People spend more and more time on social media chatting and video calling and have less social interaction. Thus, they may feel connected digitally but still feel lonely in real life. This further leads to anxiety and depression. This way, they can not develop social skills, interpersonal communication, etc.
- Envy: High levels of jealousy and mental disharmony are also associated with social media. As told above, people seeing others living the best life (as projected virtually on social media) develop a sense of jealousy. This, over some time, can pose severe mental health issues.
- Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Excessively using social media may develop an addiction. Nowadays, many people are so used to checking notifications and scrolling social media that they can’t even spend 10 minutes away from their smartphones. As a result, they feel the urge to open social media apps at least once every few minutes to check something new. If they can’t access the internet, they start feeling FOMO. Consequently, they either panic or feel stressed until they check their mobile notification. This is a major mental health issue that is increasing in people.
- Effect on Education: Consuming content, particularly short videos, reduces people’s attention span. This hinders young people as they cannot focus on their studies. For example, reading and listening to lectures need a longer attention span and the ability to concentrate for hours. But excess consumption of short content has reduced the ability to focus on school and college lectures.
- Lesser Social Interaction: People become increasingly dependent on social media for interaction and socialization. They have lesser and lesser in-person interaction. Chat and video calls are replacing meetings and get together. Although these features mimic social interaction still, our mind does not respond like that. Meeting in person improves social skills, reduces anxiety, and improves emotional balance. This is most important for children and adolescents who, if they rely on social media too much, may not develop interpersonal skills and maybe ill socialized.
- Diluting Interpersonal Bonds: social media is also contributing to worsening personal bonds on both personal and social levels. The families broke down from joining nuclear, but now it is dividing further. Family members have fewer interpersonal conversations as each member lies in different places with mobile phones. This is also happening at the level of society and community. People are more dependent on technology than talking personally to interact.
- Cyberbullying & Trolls: The anti-social behavior of people has also increased over social media. People now write things and post more irresponsibly on social media than in public spaces or real life. This gives them anxiety and panic attacks. Moreover, many celebrities have gotten severely depressed after being trolled. Besides this, youths are also targeted by many criminals who try to brainwash them to trap them in their net.
- Cyber Grooming: Some criminal minds groom adolescent girls instead of self-expression, so social media sites are not child-friendly. They make them feel independent and confident before abuse and trafficking.
- Inappropriate Content: Everybody is not educated in managing social media. They can see inappropriate or disturbing content, such as aggressive, violent, or sexual comments and images. Additionally, they may upload unsuitable content portraying provocative or embarrassing photos or videos of others and themselves.
- Data Breach: Other concerns include security risks and sharing personal information with strangers or scammers, such as images, date of birth, location, or address. They may sell your personal data.
- Targeted Marketing: Another harmful effect is too much-targeted advertising and marketing, while data breaches may lead to their data being sold to other groups. Let us look at these in detail one by one.
Business & Workplace
- Risks for Businesses: Social Media poses many significant risks to businesses. Business and e-commerce websites are the primary targets of hackers who hack and block websites and ask for ransom. Further, there are cases like Eli Lily, which lost billions of dollars due to a prank on Twitter.
- Effect on Employees: Using social media at work leads to productivity loss, costing companies millions of dollars. At the personal level, employees lose focus and, ultimately, their incentives. Further, many employees have reported bullying and harassment by co-workers on social media.
Social media platforms have been reported to gravely affect political campaigns and public election polls. This happens in the following ways.
- Polarisation: It means an increase of differences in thoughts among people and groups which are highly contrasting to one another. Social media algorithms are designed so that if you see or like more of some kind of content, you will see similar content in your feeds. Thus you get more engrained in a particular ideology or interest, and society gets polarised over time.
- Data Collection: Few big social media companies were blamed for collecting and selling citizens’ data. The personal data of millions of people was sold to political analysts and parties, who used it further to influence elections and polls.
Who’s Exposed to Social Media Risks
Social media exposure affects many users kids to old age people, but certain categories are most vulnerable. These are people:
- Suffering from loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
- Being prone to social comparisons.
- Being unsatisfied with life and having guilt.
- Having low self-esteem and isolation.
- Having high levels of neuroticism.
- Having high levels of narcissism.
Extreme usage can lead to a few dangers instead of benefits of social media if not approached mindfully. For example, pretending to be “a different person” online can result in negative consequences, such as loneliness. Simply scrolling through content on social media without active engagement may also contribute to mental health struggles, likely due to increased envy and comparisons. Thus youths should regulate their content consumption. Parents, teachers, and mentors should also counsel and help children deal with such issues. Learn how to protect your mental health and avoid the negative effects of social media with these tips.
How to Avoid the Risks of Social Media?
We can avoid them in the following ways:
#1 Limit Social Media Use In Life
Are you looking to reduce your social media addiction? Then, give these proven techniques a shot:
- Use software to restrict access to social media.
- Minimize social media visibility on your devices.
- Finally, find alternative fun activities to spend your leisure time.
#2 Limit Personal Information
One way to make meaningful connections is through actively communicating with loved ones using social media rather than just mindlessly consuming information. As you navigate your child’s online presence, they must understand several fundamental principles. First, they should always think carefully about what they’re posting and anticipate the reactions they might receive. It’s also essential that they avoid sharing inappropriate content, treat others with respect both online & offline, and further obtain consent before publishing images of their peers.
#3 Use A VPN
If you’re worried about being tracked on social media, try VPN. A good VPN can securely encrypt traffic and hide your actual IP address. It means you can feel safe when using a good South Korea VPN. It’s easy to do; you need to install VeePN, there is even a free trial version, and connect to any server. Then, anyone who tries to find your actual address will only find the IP of the remote server.
#4 Stick To Simple Privacy Rules
Reviewing social media privacy guidelines and settings with them is essential to keep your child’s online privacy in check. Here are some social media safety tips to share with your child:
- Avoid sharing personal information like location and date of birth with strangers online or through quizzes/tests.
- Don’t include phone numbers or birthdates on private profiles.
- Frequently check privacy and location settings on apps and devices.
- Keep passwords and login details confidential, and refrain from sharing them with friends.
- Don’t access social media accounts on public Wi-Fi.
- Always log out of your accounts when using public computers.
Social media poses many risks to all age groups, from children to old age. But youths and old age people are notably more exposed. In this article, we have discussed the different risks associated with social media use to people, from physical to mental health and social to political life. Further, we have also seen the various strategies you can use to stay safe online.
You can build healthy behaviors and habits, such as avoiding apps that require sharing sensitive information or location. Following these simple tips can increase your security while using social media. In addition, it’s essential for our mental health and subjective wellbeing. As a result, stay connected with peace of mind.
I hope this article was helpful to you. Please share it with your friends and family to create awareness. So that they also remain safe from such threats.