How Social Media Affects Self-Esteem
Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, and Candice Swanepoel all have one thing in common: they are considered goddesses in the model industry. Their faces, bodies, and names are known worldwide and their reigns are far from over. These models are social media superstars with millions of followers, and on their massive platforms, they choose to promote their bodies which got them famous in the first place. They constantly show off their perfect physiques on their Instagrams, but a relevant question is: do they consider the depth of their posts? There is significant evidence that proves that social media has a negative effect on developing brains.
A survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health asked fourteen to twenty-four-year olds in the UK how social media platforms impacted their health and wellbeing. The survey results found that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all led to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness (Ehmke). Experts are wondering what the long-term disadvantages are to the youngest generation being addicted to their screens. Self- esteem is not something to be toyed with in this day and age. As society becomes more politically correct and as we try to eradicate past prejudices, we need to keep an eye out for the unhealthy development of teenage minds. These unrealistic body images that are shoved in the face of the public do not have a healthy effect on the brain, even if we don’t notice it at first. Comment by Karimah Land: usually in text citations include last name and pagination or year of publication ex: (Bittle, 4) or (Bittle, 2000)
Instagram is the biggest culprit of these unrealistic body images today. On this social media app, all you have to do is tap on the icon and you will immediately be bombarded with tons of images of models, “influencers”, and entertainment stars. The newly found term ‘influencer’ is defined as individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship (Business Dictionary). These influencers get products from companies who want them to sell their product to their followers. People have made complete careers out of this, the most successful of these being YouTube stars and Instagram models. Putting ordinary people in power of what we consume as social media users is the glorification of social media itself. As we continue to progress as a society, technology will continue to advance and be incorporated into our daily lives, but where do we draw the line? Should anyone have the access to become a glorified social media star? How will this continue to affect the self-esteem of teenagers?
A recent study concluded that people who used more than seven social media platforms had more than three times the risk of depression than people who used two or fewer sites (Gordon). Seven may sound like a lot, but there are plenty of websites to fill those spots. Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat are just a few of the most popular ones. Teens often feel emotionally attached to their social media accounts ,some even believe that teenagers are addicted to social media. They feel extreme pressure to respond quickly online, and they also feel pressure to have perfect photos and well-written posts, all of which can cause a great deal of anxiety. Some studies have found that the larger a teen’s social circle online the more anxiety they feel about keeping up with everything online (Gordon). In a study by researchers at the UCLA brain mapping center, they found that certain regions of teen brains became activated by “likes” on social media, sometimes causing them to want to use social media more (Gordon).
In conclusion, social media and teenagers have an intimate relationship that will continue to develop and evolve for many decades to come. An important notion that should be considered is the effect of constant screen time and exposure to social media on the developing brains of young adults. It can cause young brains to become depressed and can increase anxiety. Although the purpose of the creation of social media was not to negatively affect the mental health of the user, it was created to influence our opinions and interests, which in turn, can become a negative coping mechanism. Influencers, models, and entertainment stars use their social media platforms to shape our standards of beauty and popularity. These standards are to be physically fit, have flawless skin and hair, as well as having over a couple thousand followers on social media. When young minds see these types of people being glorified, they judge themselves off of these unfair standards.