Want to know how social media is affecting women’s mental health?
Read the story below:
Claire, 19, has replaced her 24-hour old DP on Instagram, wearing her red cropped jacket with a royal-blue jegging. By the time she’s returned from the parlor in the afternoon with a balayage hairstyle, that DP’s already gained her nearly 100 comments and above 5000 Likes. Elated and pumped up, Claire couldn’t hold back from uploading her latest hairstyle photo on the IG post. Later that night, when she found out that the last post got her about half the response of what her best buddy had got, she instantly tried to suppress the anguish by uploading a dozen of photos she has just taken at the school party. It relieved her anxiety for a while. But after a couple of hours, the show-off cycle continued.
The above scenario isn’t a new thing for us as electronic social media (SM) platforms are overpowering our young generation for the last two decades. How does it affect women’s mental health?
The female SM users are increasing radically, only to make social media affect women’s mental health significantly. The University of South Wales, UK, reports, women spending more than an hour on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are prone to low self-esteem regarding their body image. Self-deteriorating thoughts and longing for gaining physical attractiveness sprout within themselves as aftermath.
It’s imperative to study the current scenario of women’s social media addiction to come to a proper understanding of it and find a resolution to minimize the problem. That’s why WomenMinds has sewn together with several significant aspects on this topic for your help.
Why Do Women Fancy Social Media?
It’s essential to know why women find themselves more lured into electronic social media platforms.
After studying women of various ages and professions, we’ve picked the following reasons behind women’s social media obsession:
- Social media (SM) platforms are accessible 24/7 from almost every part of the world.
- Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc., are easy entertainment at hand, or in other words, on your smartphone device. Having a WiFi connection in the house 24/7 so that you’re free to roam the virtual sites for endless hours.
- Making new friends is a fun way to spend time. SM is a vast world where an increasing number of friends and followers are available for young girls to get.
- News, entertainment, lifestyles, controversies, viral stories, memes, etc., are some modern sources of having a fun time.
- A vibrant world of celebrities is swarming through electronic media and apps. Young, adult and middle-aged women drool over those celebrity lifestyles and their achievements.
- Young girls also love playing various interactive games on Facebook and other strategic gaming platforms. Hence, they’re engrossed in endless hours of gaming and chatting.
- SM is a place of recognition, acceptance, and popularity. Uploading vibrant and curated images, stories, videos, etc., on various sites (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) makes women feel good about themselves.
- Apart from young generation women’s fascination with round-the-clock SM browsing, a growing number of adult and middle-aged women are finding SM platforms useful for showing their skills while promoting commercial products and services.
Women Zoom into Social Media Entertainment Abruptly
Due to how social media apps and sites run these days, women tend to skip the other useful electronic sites, such as news, magazines, articles, discoveries, etc., and jump to the social media sites whenever opening their mobile and tablet devices.
What Does Modern Psychology and Research Say?
It’s a burning question to the current context why women skip to the electronic social media sites, leaving other informative and educational sites abruptly.
Well, the answer is simple yet subtle.
Modern psychology says that SM platforms delude the young and adult women into something they venerate as a central part of womanhood. The study says an idea of modern beauty-standard is engraved in young women’s minds as they come across social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.
Women are socially forced to believe that external beauty holds more value than the inner one through these sites. Hence, comparison and competition regarding weight gain or loss, plastic surgery, face-lifting, and other trends become the core sense of their lifestyle.
Ultimately, in the virtual universe, it’s all about physical attractiveness, be it soulful or soulless. [The Impact of Internet Social Networking on Young Women’s Mood and Body Image]
Women start to imagine themselves as popular celebrities, having a body-shape like them, height and weight like them, skin tone like them, having certain luxuries like them, and so on. Sadly, neither of these thoughts are sensible, nor can they put a limit to their aspiration level.
Things start to worsen when such women find themselves less attractive than those idolized celebrities, being obliviated of the sheer difference between real life and celluloid personalities. Such encounters bring our young and adult women to the following mental ailments:
1. Women Start to Experience Low Self-esteem
While accepting yourself as you are is a great value of life, the SM goers are doing just the opposite.
Comparing themselves with other individuals and failing to achieve pseudo-identity turn them into depressive figures. As a result, they start doubting their existence and can hardly present themselves in front of others in real life.
2. They Show Signs of Lacking Gratitude
Having low self-esteem is a sign of ungratefulness towards life and everything we’re blessed with. Women who’re addicted to social media gimmicks fail to show that due gratitude.
It appears as these women were born in an artificial world of fame and achievements to ignore the good things they possess in real life, such as family, personal achievements, relatives, amenities, natural resources, etc.
3. They Overlook Significant Issues of the Society
Many young women intentionally overlook social issues by being preoccupied with the virtual social media’s huffs and puffs.
In other words, cleaning the road or helping out a poor man down the street may seem arduous, while reacting to the same issues on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube are fun and easy.
4. They Waste Money, Time, and Health
Imitating someone or following someone’s lifestyle may not be a wasted effort in the first place, but overdoing it while forgetting the self-value might ruin it.
Unless you’re a celebrity yourself, or at least a well-known public figure, all your social media exposures would burn into ash eventually. The individuals you’re looking up to now won’t flicker by your loss. You will lose all the money, time, and, most importantly, your health in vain.
5. They Plunge Their True Potential
The most crucial thing the young women lose in social media brags and losses is their innate potential.
Many women who’re much talented in various creative, technical, or literary activities smudge their skills by the illusion of social acceptance, popularity, and success. One might find herself lucky if she comes around in time to realize her mistakes while taking proper measures to balance her real and virtual lives.
Social Media’s 2-Fold Impact on Women’s Mental Health
It will be an unfair discourse towards the companies who’ve launched the popular social media apps and sites if we only bring about the downsides of using them.
Every technology’s fair use lies within the consumers or users. The same goes for electronic social media platforms. If one knows the limit of using social media apps and abide by the rules, things will bring some positive outcomes.
Thus, it’s important to find out both sides of social media affecting women’s mental health. Below are the positive and negative impacts of social media on women’s mental health:
Positive Impacts of Social Media on Women’s Mental Health
1. Women Can Find A Vast Realm of Virtual Resources
Social media apps like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc., can present to the women numerous valuable resources. Women can benefit from the social media platforms in the following manners:
Women can avail educational resources on social media platforms. Many educational institutions use popular SM sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for promoting their courses and resources. Both free and premium resources are available on individual pages and groups.
Women can uplift their lifestyle by adopting certain diet changes, health regimens, hygiene, etc. Instagram and YouTube are popular sites for bearing such useful resources in the image, video, or infographic forms.
Self-care is an integral part of a woman’s life. Both mental and physical care is essential for a woman’s success. Women can take on various holistic and motivational courses on social media for improving their family, work, and social lives.
2. Social Media Acts as A Means of Women’s Unheard Voice
Gone are the days when even working women suppressed their voices in fear of protest and offense. At present, even homemakers and teens are putting their words across the globe against any disorders or disrespect.
Sharing innate potentials on social media has become a trend nowadays, and it pays off the effort. From sewing, cooking, DIYs, homemaking to painting, singing, dancing, writing, acting, or traveling, all have a precious space on the SM sites. And women are thriving on such activities by engaging millions of loyal viewers and valued customers.
Sharing personal views on various issues related to social, national, or international affairs is easy for women worldwide. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Quora, etc., are widely known as discussion and opinionating sites.
Protesting on social media platforms against cruel, unjust, or inhumane acts is far easier and prevalent for women. Virtual protests stream through social media to reach people at lightning speed. Such occurrences are perfect occasions for women to have their voices heard.
3. It Acts as A Passage of Empathy
Women can show their solidarity towards social, national, and international crises through social media sites. Social media works as a window that brings in the crisis news and takes back humans’ empathetic views out in the world.
So, women can share their soft-hearted and caring sides with the world at peril.
4. It’s A Platform of Virtual Teamwork
Women can transmit important social messages to responsible individuals through Facebook and WhatsApp.
The SM platforms also help women team up with the other groups to provide financial and manual aid in many crises, such as flood, war, homelessness, animal rescue & adoption, etc. The very recent pandemic Covid-19 has paved the way for many willing online participants to aid those deprived of food, medicines, and other facilities.
Women can also contribute to social and environmental causes, such as planting trees, reducing plastic usage, cleaning streets, etc., based on social media updates and verifications.
5. It Can Work as A Ground for Self-Reliance
Online business has become a new phenomenon in the last decade, and women aren’t lagging. Women are thriving in some online businesses, such as beauty products, clothing, foods, etc. And SM sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are viable means of promoting and reaching their target customers.
Besides, many women are doing remote works, such as freelancing (content writing, photo/video editing, website design, etc.). Women worldwide are becoming self-reliant through working remotely, and social media sites are suitable for promoting their skills and achievements.
Negative Impact of Social Media on Women’s Mental Health
1. Young Women’s Social Media Engrossment is Higher than Men
Spending time on mobile or tablet devices, also known as screen-time, is becoming higher and higher for women, especially teens and adolescents aging from 18 to 25.
Table for social media engrossment by young women on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat in various countries:
|SL||Country||POU on Instagram||POU on YouTube||POU on Facebook||POU on Snapchat||POU on TikTok||Year of Stat|
|2||Sweden||Not Available||Not Available||85%||Not Available||Not Available||2020|
|3||U.S.||72%||80%||56%||24%||14%||2020 (3rd quarter)|
Apart from the above chart, in the UK, 86% of female users have opened various social media profiles compared to 78% men during 2020-19, as per a survey.
The general or personal profiles, commercial sites, and companies are also appointing young females to promote their businesses, which puts women on social media’s major screen share.
2. The Device Becomes Women’s Alter-Ego Due to Peer Pressure
Young and adult women love to play the role of a shutterbug subconsciously on social media platforms. It means they wake up with the SM, eat with it, go out and hang out with it, shop with it, sleep with it, and so on.
The SM platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, etc., are not to be solely blamed. Young women, mostly from 16 to 25, feel an urge to be in a group of social media biters all day. And SM companies are capitalizing on this appetite for fame greatly.
Popularity has a new definition now: “Like”, “Love”, “Wow”, etc. It’s become tangible, which once happened to be fathomable through the course of time and consistent performance. And young females are all for this virtual success, whether it values principles or not.
Educator Carmen Papaluca, PhD., opines, “Things like popularity used to be abstract … [thanks to social media,] now there’s a tangible measurement.” Rightly said.
Since female SM users venerate SM platforms as their alter-ego, they often find their self-esteem dropping. Women get depressed after checking on appealing and pretty pictures of individuals and celebrities on Instagram and Facebook.
It happens because they compare their body image with the others, hence, falling short in uplifting their spirits.
3. Women Become Enslaved to Social Media’s Consumerism and Comparison Traps
It’s true, and it’s happening worldwide. Social media traps our young minds, especially women, into their consumerism and comparison or competition games.
Consumerism prevails through social media when companies constantly promote their various lucrative products and services on these electronic platforms. Such as,
Apps: Music, Singing, Fitness, Dancing, Dating, etc.
Beauty products: Makeup foundations, lipstick, primer, makeup kits, nail polish, etc.
Clothing: Trendy attires like denim, jackets, skirts, shoes, etc.
Lifestyle: Home décor, furniture, travel and tour, foods, etc.
Entertainment: Movies, web-series, animations, etc.
The above list is a glimpse at what lies there on social media sites. And our young women are emphatic about these products and services. Every day, these products and services are coming along in newer styles and offers. Hence, it’s hard to refrain from such a loophole.
Comparison takes over our women’s minds automatically following the consumerism chapter.
The above list of products and services embed a sense of looks and appearances in the young generation. Women become hyper-sensitive about their appearance and lifestyle.
Thus, women start to compare themselves with other SM users, be it a regular individual or a celebrity.
They feel a persistent nagging within themselves of uploading pictures of new dresses, foods, lifestyles, jobs, makeup, etc. while sharing them with the public online. They upload video clips on apps like TikTok or Like, showcasing their naïve drama skills and all.
Being enslaved to these unnecessary and shallow activities, women face the negative impacts of social media on their mental health. Oftentimes, elation and depression may come hand in hand.
4. Their Emotion May Turn Shallow
Constant empathetic showcase on social media may turn the young women into imposters.
Many women, young or adult, engage themselves in commenting and sharing various social, religious, national, or international issues on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. Funnily enough, their such activities often lack true empathy and principle due to that particular issue.
Such SM users become addicted to these activities; they don’t even care what goes through the actual victims of whom they’re sharing the crisis. The dangerous part is, they often comment from their uneducated perception on these social media posts without realizing if it’s right or inappropriate.
5. Women’s Potential Deteriorate over Time
It starts with physical symptoms, then leads to mental deterioration. And many young and adult women lose their true potential in the course of social media hypes.
The physical and mental deterioration of women after using SM sites constantly may seem like the following:
Headache and nausea are common signs of SM addiction in women. Young female SM users mostly show such symptoms. Long hours of screen-time may obstruct regular oxygen and blood circulation to the brain and heart, leading to headaches and nausea.
Irregular sleep may follow in the course of endless screen-time. Teens and young adult women often are seen with dark circles under their eyes. They find it hard to fall asleep due to persistent sleepless nights.
Delusional thoughts and activities may not be prevalent in SM users, yet it’s an alarming consequence of spending too much time on SM gimmicks and hyped entertainments. Teens and adolescent SM users may often confuse between reality and virtual incidents while facing embarrassing situations in front of others.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can take over some women who’re glued to the SM screen 24/7. Spending too much time on numerous sites and their consisting posts substantially create a distraction. Hence, young minds find it hard to put the undivided focus on their study, work, or any other social or personal projects.
Depression and anxiety may become a lifelong companion in women’s life if they insist on leading a shutterbug or imposter life. Since many female SM users forget in this process what their identities and values are while feeding on the artificial entertainments and lifestyles, they end up in depression and anxiety.
Social Media Engrossment: Men Versus Women
According to many recent studies, women are more active on social media platforms than men. Roughly, more than 5 million images are uploaded by women on Facebook alone every hour.
Female users, especially teens and adults, stay more active than men on social media for various purposes: socializing, surfing through others’ profiles, posting images or videos, purchasing products, or reading blogs or news.
Although the number of male users on social media platforms increases, they’re yet to overtake women.
According to Statusbrew’s update on March 2021, the percentage of women users of social media apps and websites dominates the male counterpart. Almost 54% of Facebook users, 51% Instagram users, and 70% Pinterest users are female.
How to Determine If the Habit Has Become an Addiction for Women?
One must observe some common signs in women to determine if they’ve become addicted to social media. Signs may show up a little differently in various age groups.
Determinant Factors to Observe in Young Women (Teens to Young Adults)
This group falls within the age range of 13 to 19. Factors you must observe in them are:
- A girl is hardly seen without her mobile or tablet device anywhere she goes, and she’s glued to the screen with undivided attention.
- She talks or socializes with her family, relatives, friends, or neighbors very little.
- Whenever or whatever she speaks of, it’s all about some trendy clothing, music, food, etc.
- Teens may become short-tempered and show aggression to parents, siblings, and relatives.
- Their appetite is irregular.
- You will mostly find them lethargic, inactive, and ill-tempered whenever asked to help out with some chores.
- Their academic grades deteriorate gradually.
- Some teens may gain weight, or some may lose weight.
- Even at this earlier life stage, they’re often seen doing makeup and stylizing themselves with attires.
- Some teen females may start lying about what they’re doing on their smartphones.
Determinant Factors to Observe in Adult or Middle-Aged Women (up to 45)
This group of women falls into the age level of 20 to 45. Although we may part them into two separate groups, things are surprisingly common in these adolescent and adult groups.
- Like teens, young-adult females tend to carry their smartphones with them everywhere and put them in front of their eyes as they find a chance to sit down on classes, bus seats, cars, libraries, and whatever.
- They tend to avoid the house chores, and in the working women’s case, they skip their important projects, deadlines, or appointments more often.
- Both young-adults and middle-aged women keep typing or scrolling through sites on their smartphones even when they’re with someone in a room, workplace, or restaurant—words on the mouth, eyes on the screen.
- Their smartphone conveniently dominates their favorite pastime.
- They rather focus on taking pictures of good foods, the latest clothing, amazing nature, etc., than enjoying the very moment.
Determinant Factors to Observe in Older Women (45 and above)
At this age level, the percentage of social media addiction is low, but their signs may more or less comply with the above two groups.
- For homemakers, it’s more about checking on the home décor ideas, learning new recipes, or watching the web-series.
- As for the working women, they’re more into sharing their achievements, opinions, events, etc., on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
- The third kind maybe the old ones, who may not be savvy with the tech devices, but engage themselves in communicating with relatives, old friends, etc., on Facebook and Messenger while scrolling through social events, issues, and the latest news around the world.
Steps to Resolve Women’s Social Media Addiction
Let’s get to know how to resolve women’s social media addiction through preventive and corrective measures.
- First things first, women from a very young age should learn about their dignity. And they must learn that their dignity and respect don’t reside with the social media hypes and gimmicks.
- A woman goes to school or not; she can avail her education on the electronic educational sites, rather than wasting time on trendy attires and lifestyles.
- Women must limit their screen-time. No 2-hour plus screen-time a day. It should start with baby steps and gradually reach the goal.
- It’s wise to spend time with family members: parents, siblings, spouse, kids, and pets, maybe.
- Know the negative impact of using too many social media sites and apps, so it can refrain you from abusing them.
- Keep your smartphone or tablet device away from you whenever you’re working or doing something important. Mind you, keep the ringtone at a level that reaches you only to avoid any unpleasant incident.
- Avoid installing unnecessary social media apps from your device. Fewer apps, less distraction.
- Start limiting your screen-time slowly. Reduce 1 hour from your daily screen-time for a week, then 2 hours for a week, then 3 hours, and keep doing it until you reach an optimum screen-time every day.
- Whenever your smartphone attracts you, go out for a walk, do some physical workouts, or talk with your family members or a friend. Pass the hard time to ease your SM urge.
- Buy or adopt a pet. It could be a puppy, a kitten, some fishes, a pair of birds, a turtle, or something harmless and playful. You’ll see how your time flies in an energizing and refreshing way without the need for a smartphone.
- Start reading books or listening to soft music. Both work as healers and educators.
- List out the priorities in your life. Then divert your focus and energy from social media onto fulfilling those priorities. You’ll see the difference.
Women nowadays dominate the social media platforms in two ways: enthusiastic users and public figures. The latter group seeds the triggers by posting their luxurious lifestyles, achievements, and idolized images, whereas the former group lusts those triggers in their mind.
Hence, a want for fulfilling the expensive fantasies fires up in the young women’s minds, driving their desires crazily while leading them to low self-esteem and depression upon not meeting them.
Shunning the mobile devices and apps alone wouldn’t prove effective in the long run if the growing young women don’t realize where the problem lies. They must conceive the idea of utilizing time for developing skills and knowledge instead of surfing SM too much.
Besides, parents, teachers, educators, and schools should come forward to educate our young and adult women about the proper use of social media.