For all intents and purposes, Facebook seems a rather safe way to spend one’s time, but this might not be completely true. Other than sitting on a stability ball while on the Internet, possible physical benefits end there. In fact, there is a good chance that excessive use of social networking is actually having a negative impact on people and adversely affecting their ability to live a healthy life. Like anything, too much of a good thing can end up bad. Sitting in front of a screen, whether it be attached to a computer, phone, tablet or otherwise, is only one example of how Facebook use might have a negative effect on healthy living. Surprisingly, there are many more that go well beyond physical health and could pose a much more dangerous risk in the long run to all users.
For many, social networking sites work as a sort of disguise. It is easy to say things on Facebook that one might not otherwise say, and is a place where people feel a lack of accountability for their words and actions. There is often little or no remorse for the hurtful words and pictures people post, nor is there any responsibility taken for the effect those words and images might have on some. Cyber-bullying is part of this behavior and just one factor influencing users’ health. It is also alarmingly common, as 95 percent of teenagers on social media have seen cyber-bullying occur and 33 percent have been victims. Facebook is not only influencing behavior and health online, negative behavior like bullying is also affecting whether or not users enjoy healthy living offline as well. It is difficult for some to disassociate real life from what somebody typed online.
Men’s Health suggests that not only does Facebook boast a higher divorce rate among users, “People who spend hours every day on the social networking site are more likely to get divorced than those who don’t use it.” These same users also seem to be lacking in self-esteem, charitable acts and satisfaction of life in general, to name a few. Each of these elements factor into a person’s overall well-being and as such, when one or more begins to suffer, so too does the person’s overall health. Human bodies can sustain an incredible amount of trauma both physical and mental, but there are lasting results that can continue to affect a person’s health in the long run, like stress, anxiety and paranoia.
When people feel depressed and their confidence is low, they are less likely to go outside to exercise and enjoy the fresh air or hit the gym. It follows that the natural consequence of this lack of motivation is possibly to spend even more time on social networking sites, like Facebook, which inevitably exacerbates an unhealthy lifestyle, not to mention the immediate feedback that reinforces the behavior.
Social networking sites do have a silver lining. For every study done about the dangers of too much internet use or excessive social networking on a person’s health, there is also one boasting the positive consequences. Everyday Health elaborates, listing the fueling of self-esteem, overcoming shyness and loneliness, and strengthening bonds as among the positive effects social websites can have on one’s heath. Of course, the good always comes with the bad and how Facebook affects healthy living is no exception. Though excessive use of social networking is probably not recommended, as is the case with most things done in excess, users might benefit from being mindful of the fact that real, physical life should come first, because this is where the standard is set for how well a person is equipped to handle a controversial social media situation. Studies, whether boasting the positive or negative impact of internet use on healthy living, try to appease readers with a closing thought which some will take as gospel and others will completely ignore. To paraphrase, what you do and how you live while offline has a much greater impact on your health and mood than what you do when you sign on.
By Heather Everett (Pomper)