Let’s Talk about Social Media and our Mental Health!
It’s your friend Emma’s birthday next weekend, and you spend the day with Emma shopping for something to wear. She is turning 18, so it’s not just any birthday! She is having a big party and has invited all her friends and family, so she wants to look her best.
Even though Emma spent hours trying on clothes, she didn’t buy anything. At one point in a dressing room, she became very upset and began crying. As she stared at her reflection in the dressing room mirror, she admitted that she hated her body and the way she looked. She complained that nothing ever looked good on her. This surprises you. She couldn’t be more wrong. She looks great in everything; you have always admired her fashion sense. You had no idea she felt this way as she had always seemed so confident
Later when you go back to Emma’s house, you notice she is very quiet. She barely speaks to you and spends the rest of the evening on her phone scrolling through TikTok and Instagram. She has always spent a lot of time on social media, but so does everyone. But recently you’ve noticed that she’s spending more time than usual on it. She has also started to compare herself to everyone else and make negative comments about the way she looks. She used to post a lot of pictures of herself, but it’s been weeks since she last posted anything. It’s weird…
That evening when you go home, you read online that social media use among young people has increased since Covid-19. You’re not surprised by this as all your friends used social media to communicate when you were unable to meet up. It was a lifesaver, and you would have been so isolated without it.
The article warns about the negative impact social media has on young people’s mental health. Suddenly Emma’s behavior makes more sense, maybe she is one of those young people? She has a poor body image and has been comparing herself to others online. Could
that be why she stopped posting pictures of herself? You send her a text message and ask if she’s ok. She replies instantly saying: “No. I hate my life! I wish it was like Sarah’s. Have you seen her latest TikTok? She’s on holiday in France. She always looks fantastic.”
You can’t stop thinking about Emma’s text message. She seems to be comparing herself to other people on social media. You decide to research social media and its effect on young people. You discover that it has both a positive and negative impact on young people’s mental health. You read about the ways social media negatively impacts young people. You also learn the ways social media can have a positive effect on someone’s mental health. From your own experience, you know how vital social media was in connecting you with friends during the pandemic. You also remember your friend James telling you that when he feels sad, he watches TikTok videos to cheer him up. He also uses it to learn about things he can do to feel better.
You ring Emma and tell her what you have learned. She’s interested to know more and thinks other young people would be too. You both decide to make a podcast to inform others about the impact of social media on mental health. Emma listens to a lot of podcasts and thinks it could be a great way to share important information in a non-judgmental way.