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Exploring the Effects of Social Media Use on the Mental Health of Young Adults Assignment Help

A College Students Analysis of the Links Between Social Media and Dep.You have to use this hypothesis "there is a positive relationship between the amount of time a person spends of social media and a person's level of depression."

Chapter 1:Introduction

1.1 Introduction

Social media use has undergone explosive growth throughout the last decade, empowering individuals throughout societies and across the world to become publishers in their own right. It comes with inherent emotional pressures, and that cyberspace has many mental health risks for youth, and is thus an environment from which they require some protection. Adolescents are negotiating a complex social landscape as the digital revolution combines with the intoxicating effect of social media.There is the pressure of constant communications causing sleep deprivation and anxiety, as well as a risk of body image and life quality comparisons leading to feelings of low self-worth(Aalbers, McNally, Heeren, de Wit & Fried, 2018).

The digital revolution mixed in with the intoxicating effect of social media has created a complex landscape; one which many believe has contributed to the dire state of youth mental health. There are even calls for legislation to stop allowing preteens on networking sites, amidst widespread conviction that a new digital technologies curriculum and further mental health education cannot come soon enough. The main intention of this paper is to develop a research, using the method of an online survey, in order to go some way towards filling this gap in the literature(Ahmad, Hussain&Munir, 2019).

Young age groups in particular have embraced social media platforms, and using these has become a big part of their daily lives. Despite the many studies which have been conducted on the potential mental health consequences resulting from this trend, the field continues to be very much an emerging one. This is mostly due to social media remaining relatively new, while its applications and how they are used have rapidly evolved and changed(Ahmad, Hussain&Munir, 2019).

1.2 Social Media and Mental Health

At the same time mental health is a growing concern in New Zealand, particularly in relation to young people. Provisional suicide figures released by the Chief Coroner for the 2016-17 year show 606 people took their own lives, the highest number of suicide deaths since the statistics were first recorded in 2007-08 (Marshall, 2017). The highest number of deaths occurred in the 20 to 24 year old age group (Marshall, 2017), while New Zealand has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD, and for the year to June 30, 2017, 238 12- to 24-year-olds took their own lives (Gluckman, 2017). Latest statistics from the Ministry of Health (2016) show 162,222 people, representing 3.5% of the population, accessed mental health services in 2015, compared to 158,233 in 2014 and 154,523 in 2013. Prior to General Election 2017, the government denied there was any need for a review of mental health services (Kirk, 2017). However, the new Labour-led government has begun discussions on a mental health inquiry, having campaigned strongly on the issue and claiming the country has a mental health crisis(Aalbers, McNally, Heeren, de Wit & Fried, 2018).

Cramer & Inkster suggest adolescents' use of social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis (Cramer & Inkster, 2017, p. 5). In a discussion paper on reducing youth suicide, the New Zealand Prime Minister's chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman (Gluckman, 2017) raised concern about the pace of sociological and technological change, and suggested the social media environment was impacting on adolescents' inherent need to develop dependency on "strong and robust peer support" (Gluckman, 2017, p. 6). He noted current evidence pointing to the possibility that cyberbullying can have a greater impact on suicidal thinking compared to face-to-face bullying. And upon remarking that guidelines about how suicide is reported in the media are important, he said this should also include for social media if possible.Today in 2017, this represents a similar age range to those who are referred to as digital natives that is those considered technologically savvy after being brought up in the modern era of electronic communication (Price et al, 2016).

1.3 The rewards of socializing online

Bolton et al (2013) noted research to date had shown that Generation Y, born after 1981, used social media for the same reason as other age groups, and that was for socialising and a sense of community, for keeping in touch with friends and for information, leisure and entertainment. Meshi, Tamir and Heekeren (2015) described that from a neurological perspective the two main needs being fulfilled by individuals using social media are those of connecting with others and managing one's reputation and social impressions. They explain that being part of a social group increases the potential for survival from an evolutionary perspective, and strong bonds within such groups enhance psychological wellbeing and protect against feelings of loneliness and depression. Managing reputations and the impressions people make has been shown to enhance survival rates as it helps to strenghten social bonds. Being sociable is generally considered good for humans, and social isolation is among risk factors leading to neurobiological changes and poor health (Dhand et al, 2016).

High quality social networks in the real world are positively associated with subjective wellbeing (Pinquart& Sorensen, 2000). And social networking online is effective at enhancing social capital that is relationship benefits such as emotional support and exposure to ideas and information, as well as friendship quality in early adolescence (Srivastava & Bhardwaj, 2014; Antheunis, Schouten &Krahmer, 2014). Valkenburg, Peter and Schouten (2006) found social media use affected social self-esteem and wellbeing in adolescents, with positive feedback on sites increasing these factors and negative feedback leading to decreases. They define social self-esteem as the "evaluation of their self-worth or satisfaction with three dimensions of their selves: physical appearance, romantic attractiveness, and the ability to form and maintain close friendships" (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten, 2006, p. 585), while wellbeing refers "to a judgement of one's satisfaction with life as a whole" (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten, 2006, p. 585). Valkenburg and Peter (2008) showed lonely adolescents' social competence benefitted from experimenting with identity online. In building on the findings of previous studies which showed a correlation between social self-esteem and social network site use, Valkenburg, Koutamanis and Vossen (2017) investigated the direction of any potential causality, and found adolescents high in social self-esteem had higher social media use, and using social media sites improved self-esteem in the short-term as they received positive feedback from friends and aquaintances. Social self-esteem is one of the major components of overall self-esteem, which has been previously found by researchers to be an important predictor of psychological wellbeing (Valkenburg, Koutamanis&Vossen, 2017).

1.4 Computer-mediated Communication

As people seek to fulfill social needs through computer-mediated communication, they are not necessarily choosing a form of communication which is inferior to face-to-face communication (Wei et al. 2016). If they are aiming to build social bonds, for instance, this can be done effectively through computer-mediated communication (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten, 2006). Features which were traditionally seen as limitations, for example lack of social context cues and increased opportunities for self-disclosure, can also operate as advantages. Under the hyper personal model of communication media proposed by American communications studies professor Joseph Walther, communication is hyper personal in that the outcome depends on the context and people involved. Citera (2016) explained that, under this theory, anonymity can build strong bonds as members of a group are more willing to share their ideas and opinions. An example of the value of computer-mediated communication is provided in the results of a study by Chan and Cheng (2004) which found online friendships which last more than one year have can be just as good quality as off-line friendships, suggesting social media can help form strong bonds (Antheunis, Schouten &Krahmer, 2014).

1.5 Risks of Socializing Online

That there are aspects of using social media which can be considered intrinsically beneficial for mental health, does not discount that there can also be negative effects. Risks are discussed in this section under the headings of Addiction, Sleep Interference, Cyberbullying, and Emotional and Psychological Effects(GRAHAM, 2018).

Hale and Guan (2015) reviewed the literature to date on the association between screen time and sleep in children and adolescents, and found time viewing television, computers and devices was negatively associated with sleep outcomes. The 67 studies involving participants from around the world, including New Zealand, mainly showed a shortened duration of sleep and delayed sleep onset. In the two years since this literature review, there has been further research, with social media having become more of a focus. Research on whether screen time delays sleep onset remains inconclusive (Galland et al, 2017), and many studies which show an association do not prove a causal link (Hale & Guan, 2015). And those who had the most emotional attachment to social media, for example, feeling upset at not being able to access their accounts, were the ones who were most likely to have both poorer quality of sleep and lower self-esteem, and higher anxiety and depression. Xanidis and Brignell (2016) statistically analysed results from surveying 18- to 58- year-olds (n=326) from various countries, and their results indicated increased dependence on social networking sites was associated with lessened quality of sleep and a higher number of daily cognitive failures. In a comprehensive analysis of data from national cohort studies in Wales, Power, Taylor and Horton (2017) found over one third of 12- to 15-year-olds (n=966) woke up during the night at least once per week to use social media. This was associated with subjective wellbeing, with their results indicating serious implications for "levels of tiredness and wellbeing" (Power, Taylor & Horton, 2017, p. 957). Galland et al (2017) quantitatively analyzed survey results from 692 New Zealand adolescents aged 15- to 17-years, and found 56% had poor sleep quality, with girls (63.1%) being most effected. They found while the odds of poor sleep efficiency were increased by technology time in the evening, very little as well as a lot of time was associated with respondents taking longer to get to sleep.

Valkenburg, Koutamanis and Vossen (2017) explain social media sites have a 'positivity bias' characterising interactions between peers, for example they are designed to elicit positive interactions through 'likes' and 'favorites'. Additionally, social media users have a tendency to share positive information about themselves rather than negative, which in turn attracts positive comments. The authors surveyed 1,479 14- to 24-year-olds throughout the United Kingdom, who were asked about their use of particular platforms in relation to these and positive health-related factors such as building identity, building community, and finding emotional support. The self-reporting aspect of this study directly linked teenagers' feelings with regard to their emotional experiences, eliminating a weakness of many quantitative analyses in not being able to confirm a causal association between these and use of social media.

1.6 Summary

These studies show the emotional and psychological side effects which have been associated with use of social media are vast. They include lowered social self-esteem, lowered mood, tension, stress, anxiety, depression, fear of missing out, loneliness, suicide ideation, spreading of suicide contagion, tendency to self-harm and heightened appearance concerns. These effects are in addition to those discussed earlier of cyber-bullying, sleep deprivation and addiction. This literature review shows the vast body of research to date supports the commonly-held view that while there are many mental health benefits from using social media, there are also a wide range of very real risks. There is a lack of consensus in the field as to the seriousness of these risks, and most researchers recommend further investigation in order to gain a greater understanding of the topic.

Chapter 2: Method and Material

2.1 Introduction

There is a large body of quantitative analyses among the research to date, while not a great deal of research has specifically addressed the topic from an experiential perspective - asking adolescents themselves how they view their use of social media and how they see this as affecting their sense of wellbeing and mental health. It is in consideration of this gap in the literature, with particular attention to the New Zealand situation, that the research question is formulated - "What has been the experience of New Zealand adolescents growing up with social media, in the wider context of their mental health?" This question is posed with the aim of helping to fill this gap in the literature and adding to the body of research on the topic to date. The hypothesis used in this case is -
? There is a positive relationship between the amount of time a person spends of social media and a person's level of depression.

2.2 Participants

A qualitative analysis was considered the best way to answer this research questions, in order to return a depth of data to give insight into the experiences of New Zealand adolescents in relation to social media and their mental health. The sample population involves 20 males and 20 female participants within age group 18-47 years. The mean age of 23 and standard deviation of 4.84. The sample as many females as males, so the mental health effects described could be similar. The educational qualification is considered in between higher school to Master degree level which is helpful in finding a quality data from a literate sample population.

2.3 Method

An online written format in the form of a survey was chosen, this method aligning with the view that "qualitative research methods should be carried out in natural environments" (Clark, 2000, cited in Oolo&Siibak, 2013). Oolo and Siibak (2013) conducted their interviews with adolescents via a messenger service, stating that in addition to many researchers seeing the web as an easy and comfortable forum through which teenagers liked to communicate, they believed it helped ease any concerns interviewees could have about confidentiality. The literature pointed to specified negative and positive mental health effects adolescents can experience in relation to their use of social media, and these were listed in order to probe for more detail around any experiences adolescents may have had in relation to these. The questions followed a generalized question asking respondents to share their thoughts, relating to what has been their experience growing up with social media. The goal of these three questions was to find out what was the experience of respondents in relation to social media use. By asking respondents what they LIKE and DO NOT LIKE, the aim was to get to the heart of respondents' experiences in relation to their emotions, feelings and mental health (Keightley, 2010). In addition to these three questions, there were an additional six questions. These were designed to get a brief picture of the extent of participants' use of social media, what sites they belonged to, and brief biographical information such as their age and what region they were from. This enabled construction of a brief biography of each respondent to go alongside their answers. Apart from this, Beck Depression Inventory II approach is used to measure the measure mood of the respondents (Stulz&Crits-Christoph, 2010).

There were limitations presented by this research method. While an important aspect of the design was a confidential online questionnaire, this meant there was no way to get back in touch with people whose responses may have been unclear, or to seek any further information. Nevertheless, the qualitative nature of the study meant only a small sample size was required, and sufficient responses proved to be quality reflections. Another limitation was that the makeup of respondents is not likely to be representative of the New Zealand population, due to the snowball sampling method used. There can be gender differences in the effects of social media, as referred to by some studies in the literature review. The sample had twice as many females as males, so the mental health effects described could be weighted towards a female perspective. In addition, the description of social media given in the survey would have steered respondents away from including some platforms in their answers. Interacting on social media was defined as viewing profiles, messaging, posting, commenting, liking and following, and the qualification was given in the first question of "interacting as yourself". "Interacting as yourself" signaled the concept of the type of social media platform which is generally more personal, in that it is used to share media relating to one's own identity and one's own life. Thus the survey responses are unlikely to reflect a thorough picture of all the social media platforms that respondents use (Lin et al., 2016).

2.4 Measures

Research Approach

In this case, the data collected from the quantitative survey are analyzed to know how social media use ‎influence the mental health of young adults. In this report the primary source is used and taken from questionnaire survey by collecting data from the sample population. The employed descriptive approach in this report is useful in sociological studies, which explains the changes that happened to people's behavior due to internet technology over the past years and is considered as it is able to create a thought that the existence of modern technology problems would be more difficult to deny (Popping, 2012).

Research Perspective

Intepretivism philosophy looks for interpretations of the world that are historically situated and culturally derived. The interpretivist approach is classified into five types; symbolic interactionism, realism, phenomenology, naturalistic inquiry, and hermeneutics. Phenomenology holds that the reality is grounded in the experiences of the people of that reality. It insists that the immediate experiences be revisited so that new meanings can emerge. Hence, interpretivist research perspective is used in this research (McAnulla, 2006).

Data Collection

An online survey gives the additional advantage of potentially being able to make any respondents concerned about confidentiality more relaxed and expressive in their answers. The survey, entitled Teenagers and Social Media. It was constructed at surveymonkey.com. The questionnaire consists of two sections. The first section comprises of demographic questions. The second section contains a set of questions, which are structured to answer the research hypotheses. This section which is made up of 10 questions focuses on positive relationship between the amount of time a person spends of social ‎media and a person's level of depression.‎
In addition, these questions have been modified to suit and meet the aims of the study. The questions were based on English in the original references.

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