Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter. All of these are renowned social media platforms that a large majority of people use today. With social media gaining more popularity in recent years, a question of whether this increased use of the social platforms is a good thing has begun to form. Many people like myself wonder if social media causes more harm than good.
To investigate this question, two professors, Deborah Glasofer and Claude Mellins, from Columbia University’s school of public health and psychiatry shared their understanding of the issue. The panel held by the two professors was provoked by alarming facts from a recent investigation into the mental health effects of using Instagram. For instance, the investigation found that one in every three teenage girls said that Instagram led to them having a negative body image. The study also found that all teenagers linked using Instagram to their depression and anxiety.
In the panel, Glasofer and Mellins start off by describing the overall mental health effects that social media can have on people, specifically adolescents. The two professors concluded that adolescents are still developing their own identities and it is a time for risk-taking. When teenagers use social media, it exacerbates their risks and can lead them to developing an identity based on what’s presented to them, which can have damaging effects. Additionally, Mellins describes how social media can be especially detrimental to those struggling with body image because of the comparison that people can make while using it.
Although Glasofer and Mellins discussed many negative effects of social media, they did acknowledge that there’s a positive side. One positive aspect of social media is that it gives people a chance to find others with similar interests. Glasofer emphasizes this point by saying that a good peer group from online is a positive thing and can be very beneficial. Another positive aspect is that it helps people stay connected from far away places. For example, Mellins mentions that social media was very influential during the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing era.
Overall, with social media being more and more popular, studies have been conducted to see its effects and to answer the question of whether social media is more helpful or harmful. Professors Glasofer and Mellins at Columbia University explain that there is no clear answer to the question and that it mostly depends on the user to see if social media will be more helpful or harmful.