What you need to know:
- The Internet is full of resources that you can use to keep yourself informed and to better different aspects of your life, including your mental health.
- When using social medial, do not dwell on impressing other users, and do not compare yourself with those who seem to excel.
- It is best to get advice and diagnosis of mental health issues through direct consultation with an expert
The Internet has made it possible for people to stay connected with relatives and friends who are miles away. Besides communication, the Internet provides a platform for people to watch movies and play games, among other things.
Therefore, because of the amount of time people spend online, it is important to understand the relationship between mental health and technology, because studies show that excessive usage of the Internet has negative effects on mental health.
Social media and anxiety
Social media is one of the main channels through which the Internet harms your mental health. This happens when you compare yourself with other people or feel anxious about not getting “enough” “likes” and find yourself constantly refreshing your feeds. When these actions are repeated over and over again, it becomes an addiction.
Additionally, if you are popular on social media, your brain may register that as success. What happens when your popularity wanes? For most young people, this can cause a feeling of inadequacy and a yearning for "success". They may even be tempted to do over-the-top activities to get attention.
Over time, the efforts to become, remain or retain popularity on social media causes an imbalance in your brain that can lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Cyberbullying and mental health
The anonymity that online interaction affords makes it possible for people to say hurtful things without worrying about consequences.
Many cyberbullies create fake news and content about their victims. Fake content can cause serious mental damage, especially for victims who do not get emotional and psychological support.
Political fake news’ effect on mental health
Fake news is false information that has been written or made up in order to deceive other people. It can be published on social media, blogs, and even traditional media outlets like television networks and newspapers. In countries where there are people of different tribes and ethnicities, fake news can rile up the different factions against each other.
Research by the American Psychological Association showed that the fake news and misinformation depicting a gloom future cause anxiety and paranoia which can evolve into depression.
Misinformation about mental health
The anonymity offered by the Internet isn't always bad. In some instances, it has allowed people to share information about topics that were initially considered taboo. One such topic is mental health. On social media and other digital forums, it is not unlikely to find people sharing their experiences and struggles with mental health. This allows them to connect with other people that have gone through similar experiences.
Unfortunately, some people misuse such forums. Quacks that do not have adequate training on mental health share their misinformed insight and advice. The result is that people may end up misdiagnosing themselves with illnesses that they do not have or do harmful activities.
Do not take mental health advice from the Internet, unless it's from a certified mental health expert. Even then, do not diagnose yourself. Have a one-on-one discussion with the expert so that they can diagnose you properly and prescribe the right treatment.