Is Social Media To Blame For Worsening Mental Health?
There has been a lot of discussion about the effects of social media on our mental health, particularly young people. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) describes social media as ‘more addictive that cigarettes and alcohol.’ While this may be a matter of opinion and debate, it is undeniable that some people do struggle with their usage.
Among other things, social media platforms have been accused of facilitating cyber bullying, contributing to poor body image, and promoting harmful content, such as self-harm, eating disorders, racism, and homophobia. The sites have also been linked with worsening rates of anxiety and depression, and poor sleep.
The ex-professional footballer Marvin Sordell recently spoke to the Mirror about his shock retirement at the age of just 28. He had played for Premier League clubs, and also for the England under 21 side, and it seemed as though he still had plenty of opportunities before him.
However, Sordell was struggling with anxiety and depression, which would eventually mean that he walked away from his career. He cites social media as an area that contributed to his problems, but explained that it is not as simple as being able to walk away from it, especially if you are in the public eye.
He told the publication: "I personally used social media poorly when I was younger. I probably overshared stuff. It was brutal for me, getting a lot of abuse, racism, people questioning me and my character. And this just added to what was going on with my own personal struggles.”
"It's about understanding how to navigate that world. My advice would be, to anyone, to make sure you're using social media and it's not using you. One of the things, when I was moving clubs, that came up was about me not having enough social media followers or enough presence.”
Sordell went on to explain that a player’s online presence is now in factor which sponsors and even the clubs themselves consider when making a hiring decision, so it is not always easy for young players to step away. They are considered as part of the whole brand, and how well they will fit into the club’s marketing strategy.
That is a lot of pressure of anyone to deal with. While teenagers who may not be in such a prominent public position won’t face quite the quite issues, the toxic effects of living up to an image or lifestyle, which is often highly curated, can be just as damaging.
The government is currently taking action to curb the powers of social media and protect young people from its most harmful effects. The Online Safety Bill is currently moving through the parliamentary process, and will introduce tougher regulations.
However, critics argue that it doesn’t go far enough. For those who are struggling to cope with online addiction, or any other unhealthy relationship with social media, it may be of benefit to reach out to a mental health professional.
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