By Bana Yirgalem
According to a study from Canadian Medical Association Journal, within the last decade, mental distress and treatment for mental health among the youth in North America has had a steep rise due to the use of smartphones and social media.
Another finding from this study shows that In Ontario, the proportion of teenagers reporting moderate to serious mental distress increased from 24% in 2013, to 34% in 2015 and to 39% in 2017.
Katarina Zeni, a first-year journalism student at Ryerson University, said that she believes there’s such a push for everyone to connect with each other via social media.
“I believe that nowadays there is a lot of emphasis on social media to connect with one another, especially for the younger generations,” said Zeni “The problem is these connections are sometimes based on falsified appearances that foster competition between young kids.”
Another statement from the study shared that a systematic review that included 26 studies (using qualitative, descriptive or cross-sectional methodology) found that social media platforms included normalization of self-harm behaviour, discussions about practical issues regarding suicidality and live depictions of self-harm acts.
Zeni shared her own personal experiences with social media and how it personally affected her own mental health.
“I’ve struggled with serious mental health issues that were made worse by my experiences with social media,” said Zeni “I know it’s not right but it’s hard not to when you’ve grown up in a digital age doing the same thing for years, which is why we need to make it better for younger generations so they don’t fall into the same routine.”
While Zeni shared her thoughts on social media and its effects among people within her age bracket, she also shared how companies can better fix their apps in order to make it more friendly for the younger generation and give people the opportunity to speak on issues that are important.
“I think to start, certain companies, cough cough TikTok, need to actually allow users to post about issues going on in our world without taking down hashtags and posts or censoring words and individuals who are trying to get important information out there,” said Zeni