Last week the Data Team at the Economist released a very interesting article titled…‘How heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness’.
Youngsters report problems with anxiety, depression, sleep and “FoMO”.
Roughly a quarter of British adults have been diagnosed at some point with a psychiatric disorder, costing the economy an estimated 4.5% of GDP per year. Such illnesses have many causes, but a growing body of research demonstrates that in young people they are linked with heavy consumption of social media.
This Weeks Video…
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According to a survey in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health, Britons aged 14-24 believe that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter have detrimental effects on their wellbeing. On average, they reported that these social networks gave them extra scope for self-expression and community-building. But they also said that the platforms exacerbated anxiety and depression, deprived them of sleep, exposed them to bullying and created worries about their body image and “FOMO” (“fear of missing out”). Academic studies have found that these problems tend to be particularly severe among frequent users.
The article went on to report that Sean Parker, Facebook’s Founding President, has admitted that the product works by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology”. Indeed, an experiment by five neuroscientists in 2014 concluded that Facebook triggers the same impulsive part of the brain as gambling and substance abuse. Yet it is difficult to prove that obsessing over likes and comments causes mental illness, rather than the other way around.
An obvious solution to the problem is to cut down on screen time. Even the most obsessive users should be able to do so. The neuroscientific study on Facebook found that the subjects’ cognitive ability to inhibit their impulsive behaviour was less impaired than for drug or gambling addicts.
Things to consider from Dr Joe Ierano…
- This problem is real and emerging
- Research shows that excessive blue light and lack of UV/sunlight is a problem
- Social media can be a great way to stay in touch but when it stimulates pleasure/addiction brain areas, beware.
- Limit SCREEN time strictly for kids especially
- Research suggests shifting the light phones, tablets and PCs emit to the red, away from blue
- Even better to read a book or go for a walk outside without your phone.
- Watch less shows about cooking and singing – cook and sing instead.
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