According to Gautam Borah, Author and Spiritual Activist, “There are many studies such as one by San Diego State University Professor Jean Twenge which has noted use of smartphone and social media as the major cause of depression in teens. Use of smartphones works in three directions. First Social media often portrays unrealistic and curated versions of life, leading to social comparison and feelings of inadequacy, particularly among vulnerable teens. Second, this leads to mental health issues like anxiety, sleep deprivation on the road to depression. The third stage manifests in physical issues even impacting cardiac health.”
Social media comparison and cyberbullying
Teenagers use social media extensively, sometimes comparing themselves to other users. Relentless exposure to carefully chosen and frequently romanticized portrayals of peers’ lives can result in sadness, low self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy. Cyberbullying may be facilitated by the anonymity that smartphones and social media platforms offer. Teens may encounter unpleasant remarks, exclusion, or harassment online, which can cause them to feel anxious, depressed, or alone.
Sleep disruption and fear of missing out (FOMO)
Overusing smartphones can interfere with sleep habits, especially right before bed. Teenage depression risk is correlated with both inadequate sleep and poor sleep quality. Overuse of smartphones can result in addictive behaviors, and the anxiety and mood swings that accompany continual connectivity withdrawal can exacerbate depression symptoms. Social networking sites frequently feature social gatherings, events, or experiences. Anxiety and feelings of social isolation and sadness can be exacerbated by the worry of missing out on these kinds of events. Because smartphones allow for continuous communication, there is more pressure to reply to messages or notifications right away. Anxiety and depression symptoms may be exacerbated by the strain and stress that follows.
Reduced face-to-face interaction
Overuse of smartphones may cause a decrease in-person social interactions. A lack of deep interpersonal relationships can exacerbate loneliness and have detrimental effects on mental health. Thus, in actuality, we become disconnected from our creativity. This is the point at which one gradually loses contact with the true essence of existence. This transports you to another world, a rational one devoid of all sentiments, affection, sympathy, or other emotions.
Body image concerns
Teens’ body image issues and unhappiness may be exacerbated by exposure to social media representations of idealized body types. This may increase the likelihood of experiencing depressed symptoms. For teenagers, the pursuit of approval via likes, comments, or followers on social media sites can become a source of self-worth. Depression and feelings of inadequacy may be exacerbated by a lack of encouraging internet comments.
Poor academic performance and relationships
Smartphone use can lead to procrastination, distraction, and decreased concentration, all of which can have a negative impact on academic achievement. Teenagers who face academic difficulties may experience stress and depression. It’s possible to have apathy in your relationships, your parents, or your academics. It’s common knowledge that depression arises when something in your life doesn’t align with your desires, causing mental blocks or breakdowns. There can be numerous alternative explanations for it.
According to Aashmeen Munjaal, Ontologist, Mental Health & Relationship Expert, “It’s really important for one to understand that smartphones have their own world. In general, smart means to have their own capabilities, resourcefulness or intellect. Mindfulness can be termed as smartness. So, the phone has its own mindfulness, therefore when we are using smartphones it means we are using something which has its own minds and works on its own, modality. So as a human being who has their own mind, we are actually dealing with an instrument which works on a system, a logic, and an analysis”
“So, in short you are not dealing with another human being. This is because when we interact with other human beings, besides having their own minds they have emotions and feelings which is detrimental for us to grow mentally. Human beings have something which is human touch. So, interacting with humans or smartphones are two different things. While using smartphones we are just dealing with mind and logic as it runs systematically.” she adds.
It’s crucial to remember that depression is a complicated mental health condition with a variety of causes, even though smartphones may have a role. Teens’ mental health is also greatly influenced by environmental variables, family dynamics, and individual factors. In order to support teens’ general mental health and responsible smartphone use, it is imperative that parents, schools, and mental health experts collaborate and are aware of these possible problems.
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