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Social media affecting mental well-being of youth

Sunday, Oct 9, 2016,16:45 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Excessive exposure to social media is affecting psychological well-being of youths with many of them exhibiting “unusual” behavioural and lifestyle changes that have “wrecked” their education and interpersonal relationships, say experts.

Psychiatrists at top health institutions in Delhi also say that in most cases people don’t even understand they may be actually affected by it, which is a “cause for worry”.

“Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are like double-edge swords, on the one hand they may have brought a greater sense of democratisation, but on the other, there is the dark side to it too, and many youth are either being harassed on it or becoming addicted to it, leading to psychological problems,” Senior Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Sandeep Vohra told PTI.

Vohra, who practices at Indraprastha Apollo in south Delhi, says the hospital’s Psychiatry Department gets 80-100 case per week, which includes people who are suffering from common psychological disorders like depression and anxiety or severe ones like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

“But we are also getting what is called the Internet addiction disorder and cases where people’s life has been affected because of some issue over the social media.

“Besides, social media has also made the youth more conscious about how they look and there is a constant sense of validation or approval from other around them, affecting their self-esteem and mental well-being,” he says.

Dr Roma Kumar, Child and Adolescent Psychologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital cautions that with excessive social media, people, especially the youth are “allowing others to take control of their lives”.

“We had a case in which a 30-year-old man became so obsessed with a girl that he lost 15 kg of weight running after her. He also stalked her on Facebook and Instagram. The family of the man then brought him to us. The girl and her family were stressed out because of this episode,” she says.

Kumar says with celebrities posting on Facebook and tweeting 24×7, youths have become more “misguided into this ‘like-comment-share’ and ‘instant reaction’ culture, where many times people become upset if their friends do not like a post or a picture.

“Besides, many of them are spending inordinate time over Internet and social media, sleeping late night and not communicating with people in real life. This is a dangerous trend. The worry is that many of these youth, do not know that they are exhibiting changed psychological behaviour.”

Doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health experts globally will join hands tomorrow to mark the World Mental Health Day.

Professor of Psychiatry at AIIMS, Dr Rajesh Sagar says, “It is no doubt that social media is affecting the emotional and psychological well-being of people. But that holds for excessive use of anything. What is needed is proper training for students at school level in judicious use of social media, as we cannot part with technological changes.”

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