LOATHING LOCKDOWN | Mental Health and Mobiles

The introverts of the world may find bliss in the fact that for now, we must stay at home. Extroverts may hate it. The one thing that is for sure, is that we all must endure it. But none more than that group of people that suffer from mental health issues.

We should all know by now that mental health stability is a serious issue that can affect anyone at any time in your life. If you have mental health instability, then being alone with your thoughts is nightmarish, especially during a lockdown and especially during a lockdown when you have been forced to separate from your loved ones.

If you’ve followed #WhySoSocial, you’ll know that this is a subject that gets a lot of attention from me. Especially as it pertains to social media.

Read my article on data during the lockdown and you’ll know that one thing we all do a lot more of during this time is USE OUR PHONES… and when we use our phone; what do we like to do? Scroll through social media. Although it is has evolved into a human habit, there are a lot of things wrong with it. It has been ingrained into our nature since the introduction of smartphones. But it’s also opened up a dark side-effect of mental health degeneration. Especially within young people.

With the addition of more time on our hands, we search for instant gratitude or the next quick injection of entertainment to satisfy our needs. However, mixing this with a current or history of mental health issues is not a good idea. Now before we go further, let me say that I am no mental heal professional and I have no qualifications in the field but what I do have is a vast amount of knowledge through research.

Dr. Sandro Galea from Boston University said: ‘There will undoubtedly be consequences for mental health and wellbeing in both the short and long term” as a result of the lockdown, and this was further expanded upon by Roger McIntyre, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto and Head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit who outlines the life-threatening implications: “The anguish in staying home intensifies” that could result in rising self-harm and suicide rates. He then goes on to mention that “A lockdown can exacerbate these feelings of loneliness and depression, especially for the unemployed or the young who are also susceptible.”

Mental health issues are a serious condition at any level, but it is safe to say that life-threatening issues are undoubtedly the most serious. Now, I am totally aware that there are worse problems than scrolling through your phone and going on social media as a result of being unemployed and staying at home. The burdens of financial, interpersonal, self-worth, etc, struggles also come into play. But one thing is for sure, the correlation between young people, social media, and loneliness is one that we cannot ignore.

The question now needs to be asked of what we can do past the time in an effective manner to compress the mental feelings of isolation?

As a social media professional, myself for over six years, I know the importance of stepping away from this so-called ‘social’ entity which can often be very ‘unsociable.’ Video calling friends, participating in in-home activities, and exploring new and forgotten hobbies have been a refreshing way for me to past the time. But then again, I do not have a history of mental health issues and not everyone is me. I am not going to sit here and write what I think people can do to counter this growing problem but what I can write is that there are always people in your corner and sometimes all it takes is a chat. If there was ever a time to call a mate, that time is now. Stimulate your brain, your body, and stay active.

At What Age Should We Start Engaging With Social Media?

 

Following on from the previous post, Olly and I thought it would be good to discuss at what age is it appropriate to engage with social media.

Oliver Campey writes his thoughts below.

A study back in 2014 conducted by Dr Richard Woolfsen and knowthenet.com highlighted that more than half of children had used social media by the age of 10. The report also found that 43% of these children had messaged strangers or engaged with negative comments by the age of 12.

The cynic amongst us may question the validity of the report or condemn certain elements in terms of how easy they are to measure. However, the fact does remain that children are engaging with social media at an increasingly younger age and it needs to be investigated as to whether this is safe.

Firstly, one the foundations of adopting any form of new technology or service is having an education on how best to use it. It’s a fact that when looking into the syllabus for younger age groups children are not educated by this stage on the positive and negative effects of social media. Personally, I think this needs to change. I wouldn’t say there’s an issue with the age that children are interacting with social media because as a generation we are adapting to new technologies at an earlier age than ever before. However, what does need addressing is providing children with an education from a young age so that they have a greater understanding of how to appropriately engage with social media.

Secondly, there needs to be further research into the negative effects of dopamine on the human brain and the formation of an addiction to likes and positive engagement across social platforms. As discussed in the previous post dopamine can be triggered by things such as gambling, alcohol, and smoking all of which are regulated and carry age restrictions of 18 or above. As highlighted by AdWeek, social media channels generally enforce an age restriction of 13+ and so there could be an argument to bring it more in line with the age restrictions for smoking, gambling, and alcohol.

Thirdly, social media is having a hugely negative impact on the younger generations ability to socialise and form meaningful relationships with their friends. Only yesterday was I sat in a cafe and I witnessed a group of friends all sat on their phones and not conversing with one another. To make things worse, when one of the group did spark up some form of a conversation, the others responded with a nod of the head or a mumbled grunt and continued flicking through their phones.

What kind of message does that send out to the person who initiated the conversation? It’s essentially saying, you’re not interesting enough for me to listen. I agree with Nat that we need to ensure that from a young age people are connected and have the ability to consume information whenever they need it. It’s common knowledge that teenagers are spending more time on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo to learn new skills and acquire new information.

I just think their needs to be a greater level of education on the safe and effective use of social media across the school system and for parents. A report by the NSPCC found that “More than half of parents are unaware of the age limit on Social Media”, this means they aren’t making well-informed decisions when allowing their children to roam free across social channels. If more work is done to provide children with a better education, it will eradicate so-called ‘social bad habits’ and allow us to become better communicators both professionally and personally.

Check out Nat’s vlog below for a greater level of insight into this topic!

Love on social media

In this new age of social media, can relationships be what they used to be? Can you love someone unconditionally without showing the world how much you love someone? Of course you can but there are people who choose to document their relationship online for the whole world to see?

Getting more “likes” or more “views” or simply just more engagement has become far more important to people than many other meaningful things that we could label as meaningful only a few years ago. We are now seeing people share the most intimate part of their lives as a show to gain an audience and a following to ultimately gain a more monetary status. This is more than a reality TV show, this is reacting to people, demanding to see the ins and outs of the life you live.

But is this really a meaningful relationship? Is sharing every facet of your life keeping your relationship together? If it is… Is that true love?