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Improper Usage of Social Media: A Health Hazard

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Anirudh Salaria

Dr. Sarah Syrjanen



Improper usage of Social Media: A health hazard

Every day we stay awake to check if anyone messaged us. We get curious about the last post someone commented on, or an unknown person liking youdr post. We tend to create a virtual world within ourselves and out “social media lives”, it absorbs us into it so deeply that it has now become a part of our lives. People post each and every happening of their lives on social media platforms such as Facebook, some want others to provide their views on it, while the others post to gain a social image of a person they are not. In between these ongoing activities, our body stops cooperating with the way we interact with our virtually social life. We see the common symptoms of headaches due to the way we involuntarily pose ourselves while using our devices, eye strains for constant involving interaction with the screen and the ‘texting thumb’ pain which results from constant interaction with the screen. But there are more adverse and serious effects to our health which go unnoticed. Sleep deprivation and anxiety are one of the major health hazards which we don’t even give a thought upon. It’s becoming more apparent than ever that our addiction to social media has become a detriment to our health. Studies have increasingly showed the effect of social media on our psychology. Even though social media helps everyone stay connected and up to date with the current affairs around them, its over and improper usage causes anxiety and sleep deprivation in youth; the problems root from the compare and despair factor making them not only conscious about their self-esteem but also reducing their sleep quality and causing severe anxiety disorders.

Compare and Despair?

Comparing can also lead to anxiety when it relates to followers and likes you can receive on your profile. For example, teens using Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have indicated that it is more about quantity rather than quality. When a survey was conducted to find how many of the Instagram users would choose 1000 random likes over 100 ‘quality’ likes, 78% of them chose having 1000 random likes on their photos than 100 real and quality likes.  They would prefer to have “randomers” following them, but as long as they have hundreds, even thousands of followers, they don’t care. This is not only regarding the quantity of your followers, but also re-tweets, and “likes” you can receive on a post. Users can take these obscure numbers, and twist them to support negative thoughts. Some can constantly be checking to see how many followers or likes they are going up by, and feel upset and anxious if it not high enough, some also report not being able to sleep due to the ‘CAD’. Or similar to this, if a close friend or someone you’re envious of, tends to have more than you. This act of ‘compare and despair’ goes around like a vicious and negative cycle. The most common way in which the youth feels CAD is when they sense themselves being Not accomplished enough, Not wealthy enough, Not attractive enough, Not worthy enough. CAD has become such a big part of Social media usage that avoiding it is not easy as it seems in the directions of many newspaper articles.


Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is defined as not obtaining adequate total sleep. When someone is in a chronic sleep-restricted state they’ll notice excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness, and weight gain or weight loss. In addition, being sleep-deprived affects both the brain and cognitive function. Sleep deprivation leads to many other harmful effects to the body such as type 2 diabetes, a reduction in wound healing ability, reduction in working memory, concentration and attention. In some cases, sleep deprivation can also lead to depression and a gain/loss in weight.

Sleep deficiency may be due to varied causes. It could be due to location problems such as excessive noise or too much light. Physical factors such as diet or exercise, stressors and emotional events could also cause sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation. Shortage of sleep  is a common problem with women given birth to a baby recently. College students are particularly prone to sleep scarcity for a variety of reasons. Adjusting to college life, ongoing academic and social demands may be very stressful to the new entrants. These may have an impact on the student’s ability to sleep properly. For students who share room together, differences in nightly routines of the partner can cause sleep disturbance. Interpersonal frictions and tensions among colleagues, meeting academic deadlines and erratic schedules are other factors that interfere with normal sleep patterns. The use of alcohol and caffeine that are becoming a part of the lifestyle are common causes of sleep disruption in both college students as well executives.  Some college students are at risk for sleep disturbance primarily because they don’t recognize the importance of sleep. One of the most prevalent cause of sleep deprivation is the extravagant and erroneous use of social media. Some view the sleeping time as wasted time and consciously disregard the need for sleep replacing it with checking posts and messages on different social media platforms. However, the fact is that sleep is essential for optimal functioning of the body and ignoring the need for sleep has many negative consequences, including irritability, exhaustion, lack of concentration, and impaired judgment.

According to, 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. 37% of 20-39-year-olds report short sleep duration. The same can be observed with the use of social media, Journal of Youth Studies on reported that 1 in five young people regularly wake up in the night to send or check messages on social media. Over 900 pupils were recruited to perform the tests, the average age was 12-15 years old, these pupils were recruited and asked to complete a questionnaire about how often they woke up at night to use social media and times of going to bed and waking. They were also asked about how happy they were with various aspects of their life including school life, friendships and appearance. 1 in 5 reported 'almost always' waking up to log on, with girls much more likely to access their social media accounts during the night than boys. Those who woke up to use social media nearly every night, or who didn't wake up at a regular time in the morning, were around three times as likely to say they were constantly tired at school compared to their peers who never log on at night or wake up at the same time every day. Moreover, pupils who said they were always tired at school were, on average, significantly less happy than other young people. On average, the most common type of sleep deprivation reported among the adults is insomnia with over 30% of the adults reporting it.



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