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Dexter looks at the impacts of social media

What are your views on Social media?

I frequently see news articles about the effects of social media and how bad it can be for people’s mental health, but how oppressive is it?

Personally I am a huge fan of social media and admit to using it more than I probably should. Not a day passes when I haven’t checked in on Snapchat and Instagram to keep myself updated. I like to keep on top of my social media; I ‘like’ all content on Instagram and reply to all Snapchats in a reasonable time. It feels like a burdensome task that must be completed. Staying active on social media has become a huge part of life.

One of the biggest crazes currently is keeping a Snapchat streak. For those who don’t know what this is, a streak is the amount of days in a row you have spoken to the same person. Many of my friends have streaks with lots of people, with some streaks going on as long 300/400 days. This means that every day for over a year these two people have been on Snapchat. I think this is very unhealthy as it becomes a pressure to keep this streak going. People go to great lengths to pursue a streak and it can become unhealthy. Even worse, these streaks end up becoming solely a statistic and not a show of friendship. People send out a daily group Snapchat with a blank screen that bluntly says ‘streak’ as a way to get more streaks and keep others ongoing.

Instagram has been rated by a UK snapshot survey as the worst social media platform in terms of its impact on young people’s mental health, Instagram is a great tool to share photos of yourself and keep up to date with the latest trends, but like any tool, if it’s used wrongly it can be a danger. So in what way can Instagram be misused? In my opinion, believing everything you see is your first mistake. What you must remember is that everyone is the same as you; everyone only posts pictures that are ‘gram worthy’. You only post picture of your best meals out, the best nights out or the best selfies. No-one posts pictures of themselves sitting at home feeling bored. We aim to make our lives look as interesting and busy as possible.

You must also remember who you are and what your ambition is. Do not ever aim to be someone you’re not. There are people on Instagram that genuinely live amazing lives, but these people are either very lucky or worked extremely hard to get to where they are. Do not sit at home and look at their pictures with jealousy. If you want what they have, get off your phone and do something about it. 

Personally, I believe Instagram is a perfectly safe tool and it is good to want to show off your lifestyle and be proud of your achievements. However, you must have control and keep a positive mind about the whole process. Someone will always live a better life than you on Instagram, but in the real world it may be awful. Embrace your own life, make the most of it and be proactive in making the changes you wish for.

Nonetheless some people are struggling to stay in contact with the real world and something must be done, but what? Here are my suggestions:

•Pop up messages to prompt you when Instagram believes you have spent too long on the app.

•Mental health support adverts.

•A mental health support live chat.

The most important thing to remember is to make the effort to see your real friends in person. As much as I use social media a lot, I make the effort to see my friends face to face several times a week. Realistically I can count my true friends on one hand, despite Facebook showing me to have 900 friends and over 1,800 followers on Instagram. Clearly I am not friends with all these people, and barely know them, but for some strange reason you often forget this and accept the pending request after one brief meeting.

So please remember to stay in touch with those closest to you and don’t allow social media to make you less social. Use these tools to share your content, but try to keep it engaging and positive. Be active, ‘like’ others’ posts, leave kind comments and report any cyberbullying immediately.

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