Just Say Something
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Social Media Addiction, A New Technological Innovation...

May is Mental Health Month. Sponsored by Mental Health America, this event focuses on how individuals can boost their mental health and general wellness in various ways, from owning a pet to making social connections. Just Say Something joins Mental Health America in raising awareness about the importance of good mental health, especially in relation to substance use prevention.

In the last few years, studies have shown that our society is experiencing an increase in the number of people, especially children and adolescents, suffering from mental illness or depression linked to social media. These days everyone seems to be more concerned about counting how many “likes” or “followers” they have or how many strangers admired/hated their looks than how many actual friends they have or spending time with family. It’s almost as if a smartphone, an IPAD, or social media has become a substitute for real, live, breathing people and the anonymous people with whom we connect on social media have become more important than the people in our real, everyday lives, despite the fickle nature of online friendships/relationships when we can be “unfriended” as quickly as we can be “friended”.

It’s as if connecting on social media has replaced making human contact, talking to someone face-to-face, and hearing a human voice. And although I am amazed by all the new technological innovations, including worker bots that perform jobs humans can & can’t do; drones that deliver medicine, transplant organs & restaurant orders; holographic avatars and AI’s that seem almost human; and life-sized robots that mimic human thought & speech, I can’t help but think that sometimes technological advances can be detrimental to humankind, especially for the young among us…..

No group has been hit harder by this new wave of mental illness / depression than children and adolescents, who spend more time on social media than any other group. While kids may think or feel that counting “likes”, “followers”, and admirers/haters on social media fills the void of “fitting in-making new friends-being part of a larger group-etc.”, maybe what they’re actually feeling (seeking) is what I think of as a form of “pseudo-fulfillment / friendship”, which although it feels very real, it isn’t. And because it isn’t real, it can’t possibly last very long yet it has enough of an impact to make young people crave it all the more. And maybe in craving that “pseudo-fulfillment / friendship”, they are left craving something more… Or, at least, yearning for something else, something different, which leads them to try something more substantial - more powerful - like alcohol, marijuana or opioids, etc. and, in doing so, they are drawn even further into the vortex of dependency and addiction, except this time, they are carried along at breakneck speed into a cycle of substance use and addiction.

I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t be allowed to have smartphones or IPADS or go online. Unfortunately, it is the way of the world. But I think we should make sure our kids are using these devices in moderation so they won’t take over their lives and keep them up all hours of the night, robbing them of the sleep they need in order to function in school and in life. We should monitor our kids’ activities whether on smartphones & other devices or online. We should make sure they know that “likes”, “followers”, and online compliments are all well and good, but they aren’t what is really important in life - and online friends aren’t really true friends. I think it’s important to teach our kids there’s nothing like having real friends and family physically around us and online friendships will never compare to that. If we can teach them that, then maybe we’ll be able to save our kids a lot of mental anguish, depression, and addiction. That’s our opinion. Share yours. #StartTalking. #ConversationStarter. #JustSaySomething #MHM2019 #4Mind4Body #MentalHealthMonth #SubstancePrevention

Emily HarperComment