University of Memphis professors have said that social media use brings little relief to teens and young adults dealing with mental health concerns like anxiety and depression, and could even worsen them.
UofM professor of Clinical Psychology Dr. James G. Murphy, who specializes in mental health and addictive behavior, recently researched social media’s correlation to mental health, happiness and how young adults spend their leisure time. Murphy said that recent years have shown sharp drops in sleep, socialization and happiness alongside increased social media usage.
“All the evidence we have suggests it doesn’t help and it may contribute to it,” Murphy said.
Murphy said that excessive time spent on social media means necessary tasks are neglected. He also said research shows that mental health and addiction are commonly associated with social media and that social media overuse shares similarities with other forms of substance abuse.
“When we have these cheap, easy ways of being entertained, we tend to neglect harder things that don’t provide instant gratification, like actually socializing with people or studying,” Murphy said.
Murphy said that young adults as a demographic are especially vulnerable to social media addiction. According to Murphy, young adult and teen brains struggle to delay gratification, which means they are more susceptible to abusing social media and becoming addicted.
“My personal view is that social media overall—with teens and young adults—can be harmful, especially for those who have a predisposition toward anxiety or depression,” Murphy said.
Senior psychology major Ricardo Trejo said that social media can be a dangerous place if you’re battling anxiety.
“If you’re someone who struggles with your own self-image, don’t use it too much because it will hurt that a lot more,” Trejo said.
Many studies speculate that social media negatively affects many users either through the comments section or addiction to likes and retweets.
Roll Red Roll is a Netflix documentary that depicts the savage extremes of social media. The film underlines how social media can be darker than real life and can have damaging and unintended consequences. Murphy likened the instant gratification of social media to eating a bag of skittles, whereas facing the real world’s challenges is like the nourishment of a home-cooked meal.
Alex Williams, a UofM junior psychology major, got emotional while discussing the pressures of social media and people’s struggles to meet today’s image standards.
“People think they should look a certain way because that’s what the world puts out there,” Williams said.