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Social Media’s Growing Affects on Mental Health

With technology rapidly intertwining with career and school, and the most widespread general access to information being shared online, social media has become an integral aspect of our daily life. 

In a 2021 Pew Research, 7 out of 10 Americans use social media for the purpose of entertainment, news, and social connection. Another study shows that 69% of adults, and 81% of teens use social media. The most common age groups using social media on a regular basis are ages 18-29. 

What makes social media easily addictive is the reaction your brain has to receiving information accessible through apps such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or TikTok. All of these social media platforms have designed algorithms to keep you engaged on the app.

Scrolling, engaging, and easily accessible entertainment via these platforms stimulates your brain’s reward system by releasing dopamine, the chemical responsible for pleasure. 

Dopamine also comes hand in hand with feelings of anxiety and depression.

According to a study by the University of Queensland, Australia, adolescents have difficulty regulating their screen time. As a result, there is a higher risk of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, envy, and loneliness.

In America, a study from the CDC has found the number of suicides in females age 15-24 increased 87% in recent years, and rose 30% in males. A recent study from Facebook found that “Instagram makes body image issues worse for 1 in 3 teenage girls. And among teenagers who reported suicidal thoughts, 6% have been traced to Instagram.” 

A study by the University of North Carolina revealed that 78% of youth between the ages 13-17 report checking their devices at least hourly and at least half checked them constantly. 

National Center for Biotechnology Information at the US National Library of Medicine stated that “the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is 1 second less than the attention span of a goldfish.”

The same study suggests that 25% of teenagers admit to forgetting important details about their friends and family.

This data infers that the attention span of teens and young adults is in decline. App features like Youtube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and the entirety of Tiktok’s algorithm is specifically designed to maximize on the amount of screen time due to people’s shortening attention spans.

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