March 29, 2024

The importance of striking a healthy balance on social media

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Multiple studies have found a strong link between misuse of social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.

Picture by: William Helmert | Flickr

Social media is a virtual world of connection where borders blur, friendships transcend geographical barriers, and voices resound across continents.

Social media is an online platform in which we can share our thoughts, information, pictures and videos. It has become an integral part of the lives of many worldwide.

While there are great opportunities online, there are also dangerous traps hidden in this virtual sphere. For the sake of our health, we must pay attention to what benefits us when we use it.

Various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Instagram, enable us to socialize with loved ones, reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

We have managed to find and make friends in Turkey, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Iran through Instagram. And of course, social media acts as a major component of our daily entertainment.

It holds the power of sharing and discovering new perspectives and information from all corners of the globe – to learn from the world’s population and different cultures.

From health, places to visit, life stories or raising awareness on previously silent or silenced issues such as the denial of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Many, like us, would not have the opportunity to learn, grow and share our own stories without the presence of these platforms.

Acting as a source of knowledge, social media can provide a useful tool for both school-related topics and general world questions.

Awareness and action would also not be as present in our lives without the information social media provides such as the global raising of funds to support those in need with vital necessities and the power to organize boycotts of violators of rights.

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As well as connection, support and entertainment, social media can help shed light on someone’s talents, helping them to grow an audience of support.

Whether it be for social and entertainment purposes or business by allowing people to utilize platforms as a tool of communication and promotion to earn money remotely.

With this vast and fast-paced world of technology dangers also arise, especially in the realm of health.

Endless scrolling, prioritizing being on social media before other commitments and needs, forgetting the importance of socializing with the actual people around us, and the value of being in the present moment are all potential hazards of entering the online world.

These have been shown to negatively affect our mental and physical health. Excessive use can lead to increased loneliness with users at risk of social media addiction reporting depressive symptoms. Hyperactivity on social media can also lead to users replacing health-related activities such as exercising with scrolling as well as causing a reduced quality of sleep.

Social media can also lead to ‘tremendous stress’ with pressures to compare oneself to others which can cause body image dissatisfaction. In a wider context, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported how the global pandemic caused a 25% increase in reported depression and anxiety with many attributing this in part to the rising hours spent on social media during the time.

Another common danger of social media lies in the information that it is capable of spreading.

Information and so-called ‘facts’ found on social media need to be approached carefully. The advantage of information being shared and accessed by anyone online also comes with its obvious downsides as people can alter or spread fake information for their own agendas.

This can be seen in the obvious example of the rise of online scams. While email programs routinely filter suspicious messages for you, current technology is unable to stay ahead of the increased credibility in which some scams can appear.

Another negative side of social media, which needs to be addressed, is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can take various forms and shapes, but its aim, whether intended or unintended, is to make others feel embarrassed or hurt. Whether this is committed towards an acquaintance or stranger, online harassment can cause serious consequences on mental health.

For these reasons, it is important to be safe online, use these platforms wisely, and make sure to prioritize your mental and physical health first. Social media can be used for good or bad, like anything, so it is vital to pay attention to what you consume to strike a healthy balance.

Written by:

author_bio

Shanhaza

Afghanistan

OXSFJ & LEARN Afghan Project

Illustrated by Yuliia Muliar

Aspiring journalist Shanhaza is 17 years-old. She is learning journalism and writing for Harbingers as part of the collaboration project between the Oxford School for the Future of Journalism and LEARN Afghan.

In her free time, Shanhaza enjoys an active lifestyle by playing outdoor games such as volleyball.

She speaks Dari and English

Due to security concerns the authors image and surname have been omitted

author_bio

Mahwa

Afghanistan

OXSFJ & LEARN Afghan project

Illustrated by Yuliia Muliar

Mahwa, aged 15, currently writes for Harbingers while receiving journalism classes through the joint project of The Oxford School for the Future of Journalism and LEARN Afghan.

She is very interested in the subject and wishes to become a journalist in the future. In her free time, she enjoys both reading and writing.

Mahwa speaks English, Pashto and Dari.

Due to security concerns the authors image and surname have been omitted

Edited by:

author_bio

Sofiya Suleimenova

International Affairs Section Editor

Geneva, Switzerland

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