An article published on May 19th in the Guardian discusses the results of a poll carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health in collaboration with the Young Health Movement. They examined the effects of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube on almost 1,500 users aged between 14-24. The poll shows an interesting possible correlation between increased anxiety levels in users of some of these platforms.
Instagram was shown to have the worst effects in terms of mental well-being whilst YouTube had the best score in this regard. Out of all the social media platforms scored, YouTube is the least “social” of all of them. There is the opportunity to have discussions with other users in the comments section of videos, but it is a platform where we can be more selective about what we view. YouTube provides an ideal platform for the gathering of information that is not present on other social networking sites. From tutorials teaching one how to contour their cheekbones to videos depicting the interior workings of an airplane engine, YouTube is not just an entertainment platform but a prime educational resource for contemporary society.
I am a user of some of these social media outlets, namely Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube. I have made the choice to avoid taking part in Instagram and Twitter for personal reasons. My own usage of these platforms have led to both positive and negative feelings but, like everyone else, I continue to use them. Perhaps, in this digital society that we live in, it is easier to have a Facebook account because it is seen as the done thing. It is a medium for which to show off our personal achievements and the best possible versions of ourselves.
From a personal viewpoint, I see Facebook as a useful tool yet not one without negative consequences. Like everyone else, I use Facebook to monitor the lives of others, post about fun things I do or experiences that I want to celebrate. In terms of photographs, status updates etc. I am not a regular poster. I consider myself to be more of a passive Facebook user. I observe the behaviour of others as a background presence. In real life, I am a confident person that does not shy away from social situations. However, in terms of Facebook, I prefer not to put my life in the limelight for others to examine.
While there are of course huge benefits to sites like Facebook, there are drawbacks. From travels and general life experience, I have met plenty of people that I would not still have a connection with only for Facebook. Of course, there are other methods of keeping in contact but Facebook is undoubtedly one of the easiest. However, constant monitoring of other’s profiles can lead to feelings of inferiority whether it be due to looks, achievements, the perceived popularity of others in comparison to yourself etc. I have it experienced it firsthand but the thirst to be in the loop always overcomes the negative feelings that can accompany extended browsing sessions. Facebook and other social media sites are here to stay but is is worth acknowledging the detrimental effects as well as the benefits that are a part of these platforms.