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Are Facebook and Other Social Media Sites Good For Mental Health?

By HERWriter
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Multiple studies have come out showing both harmful and beneficial effects of social media sites like Facebook. So which one is it?

Does interacting with friends or acquaintances via the Internet improve your quality of life, or does it just bring you down in different ways?

One recent survey conducted by the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt had results suggesting that Facebook can affect body image, according to a press release.

According to the survey results, “51 percent of respondents said that seeing photos of themselves make them more conscious about their body and weight.” Also, “only 25 percent of respondents said they are happy with their current body and weight.”

Of the 600 Facebook users between ages 16 to 40 that participated in the survey, “12 percent said they currently have or have had an eating disorder. Eight percent said they have thought they may have an eating disorder.”

The term "Facebook depression" has even made its away across the media, suggesting that excessive Facebook use can lead to depression, although groups and websites like Help For Depression question the validity of a link between Facebook and depression.

Other studies suggest positive mental health associated with Facebook users. One study featured in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking shows that many people experience a positive mood state when using social networking sites like Facebook.

Experts provide their insight into this important issue that affects an increasing number of people.

Alisa Land, a psychiatrist who works at Bridges to Recovery, said in an email that social media really can have both positive and negative effects on mental health.

“In my view, social media has become a sort of modern two-edged sword, with potential to heal or harm an individual's mental health,” Land said.

“Users can benefit from a sense of social connectedness and community, maintaining a sense of continuity with friends and colleagues both in one's present and from one's past.

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Like most other things in life, such as television and video games, participating in social media websites in moderation is ok. There are those that take things to extremes and may spend many hours on Facebook. When consumed by Facebook for so long, I believe some people will lose their interpersonal skills and eventually develop other disorders which may impact their relationships with others later in life. Just look at the Colorado mom that was "playing" on Facebook while her 13 month old child drowned. Granted, the child should have never been in the bathtub unsupervised. But the lure of Facebook is causing some to overlook the basics and even turn to violence. There was a Florida mom that actually strangled her toddler for crying and interrupting her Facebook FarmVille game. These are truly sad stories, but are unfortunate events in our modern day and connected world.

April 13, 2012 - 8:49am
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