The internet is extremely prevalent in our contemporary society. With new apps such as snapchat or twitter, social media has become especially popular amongst adolescents. The environment has a huge impact on the child’s internet use because if the child is constantly surrounded by it, then it is highly likely they will become addicted. While there are many advantages to using social media, like following up with worldwide news or staying in touch with old friends, the disadvantages outweigh any benefits as it may lead to depression and other mental health issues.
Recently, however, Thomson Reuters Corporation, a Canadian transnational mass media and knowledge firm, has connected online social networking with many psychiatric disorders, as well as depressive symptoms, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Since social networks measure comparatively new, their potential impact on psychological state still remains unrequited. On the opposite hand, thanks to the increasing quality of those on-line medias within the general population, any future confirmed association between them and psychiatric diseases would cause a significant public health concern.
One of the explanations why time spent on social media networks could also be related to depressive symptoms is the undeniable fact that it should result in the incorrect impression of the physical and temperament traits of different users. This might result in incorrect conclusions concerning physical look, instructional level, intelligence, ethical integrity, and several other different characteristics of online users.
Several authors outline the term “self-esteem” as “the evaluative component of the self—the degree to which one prizes, values, approves or likes oneself.” It is a vital factor in developing and maintaining psychological state and overall decent quality of life. Low self-esteem is related to numerous mental diseases, as well as depression, consumption disorders, and addiction. Recent studies have given conflicting results concerning the potential influence of Facebook and different social media networks on self-esteem.
One of the attainable explanations concerning the negative relationship between social media and self-esteem is that all social networking platforms where self-presentation is the principal user activity cause or at least promote narcissistic behavior. A report by Mehdizadeh represented the findings of a study within which a hundred Facebook users at York University provided vanity and personality self-reports. The results indicated that people with lower self-esteem measured extremely active online in terms of getting additional self-promotional content on their social networking sites profiles. In different words, bound Facebook activities (such as “The Main Photo” feature) were negatively related with vanity in regards with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
Addiction to online social networking, as well as Internet addiction in general, are recent and insufficiently investigated phenomena, frequently discussed and sometimes disputed in the psychiatric literature. The addictive nature of social network sites is supported mostly by the mental preoccupation of many persistent social network site users who as a result tend to neglect other aspects of their social functioning such as family and offline friends. In addition, according to our own observations, sudden termination of online social networking (i.e., lack of Internet connection) may in some users cause signs and symptoms that at least partially look like the ones seen during drug/alcohol/nicotine abstinence syndrome. Online social networking as a potential addiction disorder has so far been discussed in many publications. Addiction represents a relatively new issue in psychiatry research, and as with other potentially social network-related disorders.
Therefore, so many questions continue remain unanswered. It is probable, however, that the overall impact of social networking sites on self-esteem is much more complex. Constant self-evaluation on an everyday basis, competition and comparing one’s own achievements with those of other users, incorrectly perceiving physical/emotional/social characteristics of others, feeling of jealousy, and narcissistic behavior—these are all factors that may positively or negatively influence self-esteem. Unfortunately, despite several research efforts during the past decade, this issue still remains unresolved, and probably many years will pass before we comprehend the true nature of this relationship.
All in all, it remains to be seen whether social networking site addiction will ever be recognized as a separate mental disorder. It can be expected that in the future, this issue will be a main point of many research studies, and that, in the years to come, it will become the subject of a wide debate among psychiatrists, psychologists, and other specialists. The final results and conclusions will have a substantial impact on the future organization of the mental health system, particularly considering that online social networking affects such a large proportion of the world population.