Take a moment to glance at those around you. I can almost guarantee that you’ll see your fellow classmates, friends or family clicking away on their smartphones, unaware of anything outside of the 4.7-inch screen in front of their faces. We are living in a world where technology, and more specifically social media, has become our center of focus.
While social media has provided us with undeniable benefits, such as connecting people globally, spreading information rapidly and providing a platform for the average citizens to voice their opinions, there are serious downsides of unrestrained use.
Recent studies have shown that 47 percent of young American adults admit to responding to texts and social media when sharing meals with friends or family, and 11 percent respond during sex. This is a crystal-clear indication that social media is having destructive consequences on our social lives.
Many are replacing their more meaningful, real-life interactions with artificial connections online. Too much of this can ultimately hurt your social skills and moreover, does not sufficiently replace human interaction, which has the added benefits of body language, tone and touch. In fact, expending energy on artificial relationships could weaken your connections to friends, family and significant others in real life.
The time when you could fully disconnect from society after work or school and allow your brain time to process information and recharge is long gone.
The young adult brain of our era does not get adequate rest but is constantly bombarded with technological stimuli. Studies suggest the average American between 18 and 24 checks his or her phone around 74 times a day while those from the ages of 25 and 34 check their phones approximately 50 times per day. With this statistic, it is not hard to see how forms of addiction and behavioral changes can occur with the social media we are exposed to on a daily basis.
A UCLA study in 2008 showed that internet and social media addicts have significantly altered the prefrontal cortex, caused by the rewiring of the brain due to extended internet and social media exposure.
Beyond addiction, an excessive amount of time spent on social media can wreak havoc on those prone to anxiety and depression. Subconsciously, or consciously, our generation is prone to comparing our lives to our friends’ lives on social media. Studies have shown that social media has been known to lower self-confidence and ultimately invoke negative feelings.
Not surprisingly, most people don’t make posts about their awful days and bad relationships on social media. This can potentially provide false expectations for life, relationships and more by comparing one’s actual life with the highlight reel from another person’s.
While I do not believe the use of social media is inherently bad, perhaps our generation places too much weight on it. With the numerous negative effects of social media on our social lives and mental health, it is important to put down your phone every now and then.
Moderation has to become a norm for social media to be used to its full potential. While it may be a radical idea for our age group, you might actually experience more fulfillment in your social life with authentic, face-to-face social interaction.