The Effects of Social Media Platforms on Student’s Well-being

By Aliu A. Onifade

The internet has led to significant improvement in different aspects of human life especially in the ways we communicate and access information. At first, the use of the internet was limited to browsing the web using technology based on the hypertext protocol and sending and receiving electronic mails (emails) using the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and Post Office Protocol (POP) respectively.

Nowadays, the emergence of new internet technologies has significantly extended how the internet is being used today. New aspects or areas of usage of the internet include electronic news, downloading and streaming of audio and video content, blogging, interactive games, friendship, and dating and use in Social media amongst others.

Background

The emergence and growth of social media platforms in the world started in the early 21st century. These platforms are growing exponentially and they act as easily available portals for communication and entertainment for web users. Facebook, WhatsApp, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn are examples of social platforms used for a wide range of reasons such as communication, building stronger personality, collaboration, entertainment, brand monitoring, media sharing, etc (Boyd and Ellison, 2007).

Social Networking

In many of the large social media sites, users do not necessarily “network” instead, they communicate mostly with other users who are already a part of their extended social network.

This articulated social network as a critical organizing feature of these sites, they are been labeled as “social network sites.”(Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Recently, the use of social media platforms is growing at a very fast rate due to the ease of access to information and the effectiveness when used as a medium of communication and entertainment.

The Statistical Trend of the Effects of the Use of Social Media on Student’s Wellbeing

Statistics have shown that up to 68% of adults in the United States of America (USA) use one form of social media while a higher proportion (about 78%) is observed among younger Americans (Smith and Anderson, 2018). Data from (Statista, 2018) also shows that about 77% of the US population has a social media profile which results in about 250 Million users in the USA alone.

In Europe, 376 Million active users in the second quarter of 2018 resulting in over 50% of the total population of Europe (Statista, 2019). Similar trends have been observed in other social media platforms as well including Instagram and Snapchat (Hanna et al., 2011; Hoefnagels et al., 2013; Leist, 2013).

Effects of Social Media Use on Student’s Wellbeing

The effect of the use of social media on student’s well-being can be positive and negative depending on the pattern of usage (Hoefnagels et al., 2013). Some existing research findings have identified the benefits and advantages of social networking sites. Research by (Nyagah et al., 2015) showed that the use of social media increases the confidence level of students during hard times.

Advantage Effects of the Use of Social Media on Student’s Well-being

Researchers from the medical and public health sector have positively reported the impact of the use of social media (Eke, 2011; Joseph Mattingly, 2015; Korda and Itani, 2013; Neiger et al., 2012). Boyd and Ellison (2007) showed that the use of social media helps students who find it difficult to interact or communicate with their peers by offering forums to build a strong bond and effective communication.

The work by (Castellacci and Tveito, 2018) highlighted four aspects in which the use of social media can improve well-being which includes its “ability to change time use pattern, ability to create new activities, facilitation of access to information and as a means for communication” (p. 322).

Disadvantage Effects of the Use of Social Media on Student’s Well-being

Many researchers according to (Browne and Hamilton-Giachritsis, 2005; Cookingham and Ryan, 2015; Jan et al., 2017; Luxton et al., 2012; Moreno and Whitehill, 2014; Richards et al., 2015), have identified that the high usage of social media can have a devastating effect on one’s mental state.

The use of Facebook according to (Muise et al., 2009) shows an increased number of marital issues amongst couples. These issues resulted from the number of likes and responses from the online content shared. According to the findings by (Forest and Wood, 2012; Jan et al., 2017), the amount of time spent on social media can have a significant effect on the individual’s self-esteem, leading to common mental health problems, as well as socio-emotional difficulties. The study by (Karadkar, 2018) shows that frequent use of social media can have a devastating effect on the learning capabilities and outcomes of students.

Deficiency Effects of the Use of Social Media on Student’s Well-being

In the past, Social media has been utilized in diverse ways all through the world. It has brought about numerous benefits such as communication, networking, and data gathering or sharing. Social media has other detrimental factors.

1. Cyberbullying: The negative outcome of bullying is associated with anxiety, depression, and an elevated risk of suicidal thoughts. Cyberbullying includes sending threat messages, spreading rumors through the use of technology. In essence, bullying has serious and negative effects on the mental health and overall well-being” (Smith et al., 2008).

2. Depression: In retrospect, Social media has been a cause of unhappiness, but, can also lead to serious medical illnesses such as anxiety and depression when too much time is spent (Kross et al., 2013). Chou and Edge (2011) in their study, highlighted that some unknown Facebook users are living a very healthy, happy, and prosperous life than themselves. These assumptions about other peoples’ lives result in depression amongst individuals.

3. Unhealthy sleep pattern: These could be caused by spending too much time on social media, which can lead to poor sleep and mood swing. Several studies (Mirghani et al., 2015; Run Zhi Zhu, 2015; Wolniczak et al., 2013) have shown that students who spend too much time on social media have a negative effect on their sleep quality.

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