Project 2 Research Paper

Calendar Forums Project #2 Project 2 Research Paper


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    Zi Chuang Wang

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In today’s modern world, technology is unavoidable. Around three billion people, roughly 40% of the world’s population, use online social media platforms to communicate, view, and share information for an average of two hours per day. While at first these platforms might’ve been created for the sole purpose of global communication, it has evolved into an entirely different beast nowadays. It has been linked with increased rates of depression, narcissism, and low self-esteem. Although it has its benefits, social media has made the current generation of people extremely overexposed and removed most of the privacy people have.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In a study done by Liu yi Lin, Jaime E. Sidani, Ariel Shensa, Ana Radovic, Elizabeth Miller, Jason B. Colditz, Beth L. Hoffman, Leila M. Giles, and Brian A. Primack (2016), they discovered that “</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>SM (Social Media) use was significantly associated with increased depression.” (Lin, Sidani, Shensa, Radovic, Miller, Colditz, Hoffman, Giles, & Primack 2016) Their study was done by surveying 1,787 adults from the ages 19 to 32 about their SM use and depression. They recruited the survey participants through a random digit dialing along with address-based sampling. They recorded SM use by a self-reported total time per day spent on SM, visits per week, and a global frequency score based on the Pew Internet Research Questionnaire. The depression was assessed via the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Depression Scale Short Form. When they were assessing the results, they found that those in the highest quartile of total time spent per day on SM had significantly increased odds of depression when compared to those in the lowest quartile. All the associations between the independent variables and depression had “strong, linear, dose-response trends. Results were robust to all sensitivity analyses.” (Lin, Sidani, Shensa, Radovic, Miller, Colditz, Hoffman, Giles, & Primack 2016)</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Depression is already an incredibly serious mental disorder in this day and age. The rates have increased dramatically through the years and social media has played a part to its growth. Nowadays, people spend more time connecting with their peers via online social media platforms than in person. These connections are much less meaningful since they are not as emotionally satisfying. They ultimately leave the person feeling socially isolated. As a teenager who grew up with social media being readily available at any second, I have experienced these feelings first hand. Many people use social media as a replacement for real human interaction but it generally worsens their feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. People tend to only post the highlights of their lives on social media. The other people who view their posts end up comparing themselves to curated content and it causes self-esteem issues. They feel the need to post the highlights of their lives as well to “keep up” with others’ false hyper-idealistic lives by creating an overly perfect social media identity as well. This disconnect from reality “provides many individuals with a false sense of self and an inflated sense of who they really are.” (Green 2013) The lost of self and constant social comparison with others causes those who use social media often to have feelings of inadequacy and slip into depression. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The instant gratification from a social media “like” triggers a dopamine rush that becomes addicting. Eventually, the notification alone becomes a conditional trigger and you will be anticipating the dopamine spike. The spike however, dissipates quickly and you are left trying to induce that same instant pleasure again. This causes you to be stuck in a dopamine induced loop and it becomes harder and harder to not check your phone for texts, notifications, etc.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Social media lowers most individuals’ self-esteem through social comparison. In a study done by Muqaddas Jan, Sanobia Anwwer Soomro, and Nawaz Ahmad, they discovered that “there is a strong relationship between social media usage and self-esteem of individuals…Increase in social media usage would cause the self-esteem of people to decrease.” (Jan, Soomro, & Ahmad 2017) They came to this conclusion by having participants fill out a questionnaire. The sample size was relatively small and their ages ranged from 18 to 25. The study had shown that 88% of the individuals who participated engaged in making social comparisons on Facebook and that of those 88%, 98% of the comparisons were upward social comparisons. According to the authors behind the study, “it has been observed that upward comparisons make people feel inferior and have negative evaluations of themselves.” (Jan, Soomro, & Ahmad 2017) In most cases, upwards social comparisons have been linked with lower self-esteem. According to the findings of this research, as people spend more time on social media, they eventually visit other people’s profiles and they begin envying the individuals that they believe are superior to them. These individuals participate in social comparison with them and as a result start feeling “inferior, less privileged and ungrateful.” (Jan, Soomro, & Ahmad 2017) These negative feelings directly affect the self-esteem of those individuals. By constantly comparing themselves to false unrealistic personas, they will always deem themselves as inadequate and further lower their self-esteem.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In a study done by Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Stale Pallesen, and Mark D. Griffiths, they found that “addictive social media use was related to lower age, being a woman, not being in a relationship, lower education, being a student, lower income, having narcissistic traits, and negative self-esteem.” (Andreassen, Pallesen, & Griffiths 2016) They began this study by inviting individuals to anonymously participate in an open cross-sectional web-survey through the official websites of five nationwide Norwegian newspapers during the spring of 2014. The sample included 23,532 participants comprising of 8,234 men (35%) and 15,298 women (65%). The ages of the participants ranged from 16 to 88 years with an average age of 35.8 years. They found that “</span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Facebook</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Instagram</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Snapchat</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> and other social media applications may serve as ideal social arenas for individuals who appreciate and are attracted to engaging in ego-enhancing activities, as they enable individuals to bolster their egos on the basis of instant feedback from potentially large numbers of other individuals.” (Andreassen, Pallesen, & Griffiths 2016) It seems only natural that a platform used to share your life experiences feeds into and breeds narcissists. The instant feedback people receive from a “like” can easily fuel their constant need for attention. Social media provides an endless supply of fuel for these destructive behaviors. We, as a society, should not be creating and enabling these individuals but instead be helping them manage their personality disorder.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Most mental disorders develop in a person’s adolescence. When left untreated, a mental disorder can be incredibly troublesome to handle and even life-threatening in some cases. It is possible to prevent some of these disorders from developing or becoming too difficult to deal with but it is important that they start treatment at a young age. Unfortunately, adolescents use social media more than other age groups so they are exposed to much more negativity than others. Due to their “limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at risk as they navigate and experiment with social media.” (McBride 2011) In a study done by Anna Vannucci, Kaitlin M. Flannery, and Christine McCauley Ohannessian, they concluded that, “higher daily social media use was associated with greater dispositional anxiety symptoms and an increased likelihood of having a probable anxiety disorder.” (Vannucci, Flannery, & Ohannessian 2017) Young teens should be encouraged to not use social media as often due to the negative side effects associated with them. Adolescents generally don’t properly think about their futures. They think with the emotional part of their brain since their prefrontal cortex, the part that is associated with rational decision making, isn’t fully developed. They might post or share risky or suggestive material on social media and put their future career in jeopardy. Teenagers unnecessarily publicize their lives.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Overall I believe that while social media has its benefits, it is damaging to individuals who use it on a daily basis. The increased rate of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem puts adolescents at risk for more serious mental disorders in the future. We as a society are extremely judgemental and with mental illness rates rising, we should focus on being more accepting of people. Social media only offers a platform for you to judge others on or for others to judge you on. Social comparison was a huge part of my childhood and it was only further enhanced by social media allowing me to compare myself to over idealistic personas. People need to use social media less and focus on real life relationships.</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>References:</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Lin, Liu Yi, et al. “Association Between Social Media Use And Depression Among U.s. Young Adults.” </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Depression and Anxiety</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, vol. 33, no. 4, 2016, pp. 323–331., doi:10.1002/da.22466.</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Andreassen, Cecilie Schou, et al. “The Relationship between Addictive Use of Social Media, Narcissism, and Self-Esteem: Findings from a Large National Survey.” </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Addictive Behaviors</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, vol. 64, 2017, pp. 287–293., doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.03.006.</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Green, R. Kay. “The Social Media Effect: Are You Really Who You Portray Online?” </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The Huffington Post</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>,, 7 Oct. 2013, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”></span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>.</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Jan, Muqaddas, et al. “Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem.” </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>European Scientific Journal</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, vol. 13, no. 23, 2017, doi:10.19044/esj.2017.v13n23p329.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Vannucci, Anna, et al. “Social Media Use and Anxiety in Emerging Adults.” </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Journal of Affective Disorders</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, vol. 207, 2017, pp. 163–166., doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.08.040.</span>

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