Health Talk: Harmful health effects of Facebook, Twitter, texting
How social networking is affecting your health
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 15:09
On a daily basis, I think it is safe to say that most of us fall prey to Facebook’s enticing news feed, Twitter’s on-the-spot updates and our cell phone’s ability to keep us socially connected through texting and Wi-Fi. However, we may not have stopped texting, “liking,” or tweeting to think about how our nonstop networking is affecting our health.
Merriam-Webster defines addiction: “to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” As we joke with our friends about our “addiction” to Facebook or our “obsession” with tweeting, we should keep in mind that truly being an addict of something can have some serious consequences on our health and our life.
Even if an addiction to social networking doesn’t seem as serious as, say, an addiction to heroin, we need to be aware of the possible effects our constant need to be connected has on our health.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information discusses the findings of several studies, concluding that social networks may be linked to an individual’s immune functioning, aging process and overall stress levels. Even as we sit alone in our bedrooms checking Facebook or bury our faces in our phones as we walk to class, we continue to think that we are being more social by participating in these activities.
However, social networking through technological means might actually be isolating us from interactions with real-life people. This in turn can cause a subconscious increase in stress, which can slow immune system functions and even accelerate the aging process.
College students in Maryland who participated in a study conducted by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda were expected to go one full day without using any form of digital media. Conclusions stated that, along with experiencing headaches, restlessness and other physical withdrawal symptoms, students “complained of feeling depressed, lonely, bored and less focused.” Anxiousness and unhappiness were common responses people felt after being isolated from social media for only 24 hours.
Medical professionals on WebMD.com express concerns for over-users of social networking, stating that they are “much more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking and binge drinking than their peers who are not excessive users.” Eating disorders, inadequate sleep, feelings of insecurity, school or work absenteeism, suicidal thoughts and obesity are also said to be linked to the overuse of social networking sites and texting according to the research on this site.
Picking up your phone to text or tweet, opening your laptop to check Facebook and using other forms of social networking can impact your health more negatively than you might have previously thought.
Use your phone to schedule a meeting with friends, limit yourself to only a few minutes of Facebook per day or every other day, and consider reducing the amounts of tweets you post on Twitter.
By consciously making an effort not to overuse these social networking outlets, you may be able to greatly improve your academic achievements, your real-life social life and your overall personal health.