Home Health and Wellness Articles Dark Side of Social Media: Health Risks of Social Networking

Dark Side of Social Media: Health Risks of Social Networking


Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are used by 1 in 4 people worldwide. It might seem harmless to spend hours each day on social media sites but slowly and surely it takes you down into a deep dark valley of loneliness and misery. Read on to find out the health risks of social networking.

There has been many studies, led by leading medical journals, universities and well know psychiatrists, that suggest that using sites like Facebook makes us miserable and increase our feeling of inadequacy and anxiety.

There are two primary reasons people are motivated to use Facebook: a need to belong and a need for self-presentation.

A University of Michigan study found that subjects felt sadder after going on Facebook, and that over time, they felt unhappier with their lives in general.

In 2011 , a global study found that turning off mobile phones, avoiding the internet and tuning out of the television and radio can leave people suffering from symptoms similar to those seen in drug addicts trying to go “cold turkey”.Scientists asked volunteers from 12 universities around the world to stay away from computers, mobile phones, iPods, television and radio for 24 hours.

They found that the participants began to develop symptoms typically seen in smokers attempting to give up. The majority of those who enrolled in the study failed to last the full 24 hours without demanding their gadgets back.

Think about your reactions in the following situations:

  • You upload a picture of yours on Facebook and a complete stranger, whose friend request you had accepted because you thought “what’s the harm”, comments that you look too thin or fat.
  • Your school friend regularly uploads a picture wearing designer suits/dresses.
  • And good heavens, you upload a picture and there’s not even a single “like”.

In the first situation your self-esteem goes for a toss and in the second you start to compare your life with that of your friend. You start to perceive yourself as inferior to the other.

The third is the worst, “no one is paying attention to me?”, “am I not important enough?”, “don’t I matter in people’s life?”, “is there something wrong with my picture?”

Lets discuss the health risks of social networking


Remember, these health risks and effects have been researched or surveyed by leading medical journals, universities or organizations and are not my personal viewpoints. The respective researches are linked within the paragraphs.


1. Social media can make you anti-social (ironic!)

24 percent of people surveyed in a recent poll said that they had missed witnessing important moments because they were too busy writing about them on social channels. Almost 2 in 5 people spend more time socialising online than they do face-to-face.

I once saw a bride continuously tweeting about her on-going marriage. 70{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} of her wedding pictures have her holding a phone. The future looks bright. Happy Marriage to you girl!!

2. Social media is addictive

According to Dr. Shannon M. Rauch, of Benedictine University at Mesa, Arizona, United States, one of the main reasons we use social media is for self-distraction and boredom relief.

“For those who post status updates, the reinforcements keep coming in the form of supportive comments and ‘likes.’ And of course we know that behaviors that are consistently reinforced will be repeated, so it becomes hard for a person who has developed this habit to simply stop.”

Researchers have found that people who are more anxious and socially insecure are more likely to use the social networking site.

The pressure to be always ‘on’ is overwhelming. We feel we need to be available for our “friends” 24/7. And then there’s that FOMO ( Fear of Missing Out ), a sense of fear about missing conversations, messages and important events.

Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), yes that’s a real , medically accepted disorder now, which affects over 8 percent of the population, is characterized by “repetitive, compulsive, and uncontrolled use” of the Internet.

27{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} of survey participants admit to using Facebook even in the bathroom. And considering how many of us hide embarrassing stuff, it can be safely assumed that in reality this percentage is much higher!

3. Social media makes us compare our life with others

Posts on social media many times present an idealized version of what’s happening, what something looks like, or how things are going. This can lead users to constantly compare themselves to others and think less of their own lives.

In 2012, Anxiety UK conducted a survey on social media use and its effects on emotions. The survey found that 53{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} of participants said social media sites had changed their behavior, while 51{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} of these said the change had been negative because of decline in confidence they felt due to unfair comparisons to others.

If you have ever felt any of these, you know what I am talking about; wish I had a girlfriend/boyfreind like that; wish my parents were also that cool; wish I had nice things like her; her life looks perfect, but mine?!

4. Social media contributes to Heart Diseases and Diabetes

There’s no correlation between heart disease, diabetes and social media as such, but the problem is the amount of time we spend in front of our computers or on our smartphones and our level of stress.

Just two hours a day sitting in front of the computer increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed}, and your risk of getting heart disease by 15{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed}.

66 percent of respondents of a survey have reported they have difficulty relaxing or sleeping after being on social networks.

5. Social media is breaking relationships

One study found that high levels of Facebook usage were associated with negative relationship outcomes like cheating and break-up. Such negative outcomes are generally the result of Facebook-related conflicts like contacting an ex-partner and constant partner monitoring.

In fact, those who show obsessive signs of Facebook use, such as interruptions in their daily lives by thoughts regarding Facebook, experience much greater levels of jealousy and relationship dissatisfaction. As with jealousy, Facebook may not directly cause problems in your relationship, but it can add fuel to fire.

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. – William Morris

There are always two sides of a coin. There are positive aspects too as many use social platforms to keep in touch with friends living far away, share good news. It helps shy and lonely people make new friends and boosts their confidence.

So my advice, don’t take it too far. Everything in moderation is good. Make sure you are not spending more than half an hour on the social channels.

Logout of your facebooks and twitters and login in nature. Look at the beautiful trees outside your window, listen to the sweet music of birds in the morning, take in the earthy smell of wet soil after rain, smile and laugh with your children.

Get more involved in our basic nature and less in the man-made synthetic feelings. Don’t be lonely but try to be alone.

This is me logging out now, I suggest you do the same!!


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