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The Psychological Dangers of Social Media

You may not automatically associate social media with psychology, however, there appears to be a clear link between the two. In fact, plenty of researchers have conducted a range of studies on the topic, focusing on anything from emotional well-being to addiction. The psychological implications of social media are both interesting and alarming.

Perhaps you can relate? Has your psychological well-being ever been compromised due to social media? If not, you may be surprised by what a number of psychologists and neuroscientists have reported in the past. There’s a number of concerns and potential dangers associated with our reliance on social media sites.

What are the associated dangers?

Danger is generally linked to a specific threat – something that can potentially harm us. Social media appears to be harmless, right? Well, a number of researchers and experts believe otherwise. Two British scientists reported that spending as much time as we do networking, may actually be hurting your body and brain. Here are some of the core concerns:

  • Susan Greenfield, a professor at Oxford University, worries that social media is negatively affecting our brains. She made the connection between social media and small babies that require constant reassurance. She fears that social networking is infantilizing the brain, resulting in a shortened attention span.
  • Susan had also spoke out to the House of Lords, expressing her concerns regarding social networking, as well as computer games in terms of children. Her concern is that these outlets may increase rates of ADHD, based on their exposure to such fast action and reaction. Also, when interacting through a computer, it is not the same as social interactions that occur in real time. This is a danger in itself, as interactions in-person require a number of skills.
  • A number of reports began to surface, including a paper that was published in Biologist by Dr. Aric Sigman. He explained that face-to-face interaction, in comparison to social media-related communication, may be good for your body. He stated that people lately, are both socially and physically disengaged with those around them. Virtual reality has taken over the need to interact with those in your immediate environment, separating us from our physical networks. Although this paper sparked some debate, future studies will research this concern in greater detail.
  • A more recent study reported the connection between social media and an increased risk of poor sleep quality, depression, and anxiety amongst teens. It is believed that social media is affecting sleep and in turn, increasing mental health issues. Issues regarding self-esteem were also reported.
Mackey, Robert. (2009). Is Social Networking Killing You? The New York Times. Retrieved on January 15th, from http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/is-social-networking-killing-you/

Sigman, A. (2009). Well connected? The biological implications of social networking. Biologist. 56(1), 14-20.

University of Glasgow. (2015). Pressure to be available 24/7 on social media causes teen anxiety and depression. Retrieved on January 15th, from http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_419871_en.html