Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The effects of Instagram addiction

By María Fernanda González M. (The World in English elective)

Nowadays, social networks have become a fundamental part of people’s lives. In order to put this in context, it is important to mention that the population of the world is approximately 7.5 billion people, and of those, 4.2 billion use at least one social network. One of the most famous and popular is Instagram, which has almost 800 million users. It was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and it is an application in which people upload photos and videos, which can also be edited and shared in other social networks.

Instagram is a social network in which most people upload their best photos, their best videos and their best moments. It is a social network in which you can find different content: fashion, cars, food, culture, history, jokes, and places. People also use it to show what they have, buy, and eat. In fact, most of the posts are nice, beautiful, stylish and in “perfect”places. However, this can also make people feel bad about their lives. Many allow that vision of “perfection” of others' photos to make their days unhappy, because you stop valuing what you do or what you have.

In fact, the use of social media has effects for many young people's physical and mental health: there is a dark side to using Instagram. According to the newspaper "El Tiempo", Instagram is the social network which most affects the mental health of young people. It generates depression, lack of sleep or "fear of losing something". Dependence on this social network affects approximately 15% of the youth today. In addition, a large number of studies confirm this information. One  which was conducted in the UK by the Royal Society for Public Health, argues that it is a more serious addiction than cigarettes or alcohol. Hernán Cubillos who is a psychiatrist at the National University, said that “there comes a point at which this addiction becomes 100 percent of your life, and when something negative happens on social networks, such as not having enough 'likes' on a publication, this begins to generate symptoms of depression in young people."

Self-esteem can also be affected. According to María Victoria Pérez, a psychiatrist at Javeriana University, "in adolescence body image is always very important, as it is one of the factors that makes this period more vulnerable due to all the physical and emotional changes that occur.” As previously stated, the photos that are published are often focused on exposing the body, wearing the best clothes, or wearing swimwear. In several cases it is intended to show that everything is done well, and that a person has a perfect lifestyle with time to go to the gym, eat healthily and also time to enjoy life.

According to Pérez, this tendency makes young people constantly compare themselves to each other. There is also a psychological phenomenon known as 'salience'. This is the desire to get attention and learn everything quickly, according to Jaime Moreno, a psychologist at the University of La Sabana. It is a sign of impulsive behaviour in young people. It is important to notice that in the last 25 years, in England and the United States, anxiety has risen by up to 70%, which is linked to new technologies and especially social networks.

In my opinion, it is not bad if people use Instagram. The mistake is to forget that we are not perfect, that we all make mistakes, that we all have the right not to be happy all the time. In addition,  it is important to create strong self-esteem, believe in who we are and feel safe. 

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