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Julia Wong podcast

Julia Wong podcast


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The pandemic has led to a significant increase in social media use, with statistics showing that the average time spent on social media per day in America has increased from 44 minutes to 65 minutes since 2020. This increased use of social media is having negative effects on our physical well-being. Research shows that heavy social media use can cause difficulties with sleeping, abnormal eating behaviors and diet, decreased physical activity levels, and a shorter attention span. These physical effects are linked to delayed bedtimes, emotional investment in social media, constant comparison, and a need for faster and more exciting content. While social media can have benefits, such as staying connected and being informed, we need to be aware of its potential harm and use it responsibly. Hello, everyone. My name is Julia Wong, and today we're going to discuss something that I think is not talked about enough in our society, especially considering our current situation. The pandemic in 2020 has caused so much change within our world, and one way it has affected us is a huge increase in social media use. I mean, just looking at the statistics, the average time on social media per day in America has increased from 44 minutes to 65 minutes since 2020, and the number of active users has increased by 2.2 million people. Sources suggest that even older platforms like Facebook have suddenly become relevant again since it had become one of the main ways to stay connected with family through the pandemic. These are some serious numbers, and today I want to dive into how this increased use of social media might be affecting us in ways that we might not even know about. Some have even considered it to be a public health crisis due to all of its negative effects on our society today. Specifically, I'd like to look into how active social media use might be affecting physical well-being. I think it's pretty well agreed upon today in our society that social media can be damaging to someone's mental health, but I don't think many people tend to think about the way that it's affecting our bodies and our physical habits. So, let's dive into this question and see what we can find. So the first physical effect that I've discovered in my research was that heavy social media use can cause issues with sleeping. A study was conducted within Lithuania which investigates the possible effects of problematic social media use on adolescent health behaviors and perception. A study was conducted in 2018 within a group of over 4,000 school-aged Lithuanian children. Each student within the study was asked several questions regarding their social media use and their issues with life satisfaction, difficulties in sleeping, and physical activity levels. It was determined that problematic social media use is linked with difficulties in sleeping. This includes difficulty falling asleep, decrease in sleep duration, and a poorer sleep quality. These sleeping problems are likely caused by delayed bedtimes and emotional investment in social media. Thinking about this realistically, I would say that this statistic makes a lot of sense to me because I know I've stayed up way too late scrolling through TikTok or Instagram and then realizing that I'm way past my bedtime. And I don't even intend to do this, but naturally I just lose track of time and don't realize how long I've been mindlessly looking through posts and videos. I think it can be generally agreed upon that a lack of sleep can be a very real physical effect of social media use, but I wonder if many people know about the not-so-obvious physical effects that may be affecting us without even realizing it. So, the next physical effect that I've discovered through my research is that social media use has been linked with abnormal eating behaviors and diet. A study conducted in Turkey digs into the relationship between social media addiction and eating behaviors, eating disorder risk, etc. It was found that body weights and BMI values of people with a high social media addiction were significantly lower than those with low addictions or no addiction at all. There has also been a positive relationship between social media addiction and external eating behaviors. This statistic was a little surprising to me since I didn't really think about how social media use would affect eating behaviors. However, after learning this, I think it makes perfect sense logistically. When we drown ourselves in social media, we are constantly seeing images of other people, which creates many opportunities for comparison, and I can definitely make the connection in my head between these two things. I think this is a huge problem within young people, especially young women today. Social media creates these images in our heads of what we are supposed to look like and eat like, and it creates an unrealistic and unhealthy image of what we should look like and what we should eat way. This factor further suggests that social media is a cause for concern and is physically affecting our physical well-being. Another factor that I've discovered that we may be affected by the use of social media is physical activity levels. Within the same study conducted in Lithuania, physical activity levels were also examined. This study suggested that problematic social media use within adolescence is related to lower physical activity levels. There were also large differences in physical activity levels between girls and boys with problematic social media use and with girls tending to have much lower levels of physical activity. Now that several children have access to social media at such a young age, many kids today are playing on their phones or tablets instead of going outside and playing with their friends and riding their bikes. This open access to the internet through social media has caused a lack of physical activity in many children today, and in all honesty, I think something needs to be done about this. Lastly, I have made the conclusion that social media can shorten your attention span. When we go on social media, we typically are not looking for long informational videos. No, we're looking for short, entertaining shorts that boost our mood and give us a sprint of dopamine. We want a quick and short laugh to brighten our moods. However, these short reels and TikToks may actually not be too great for us and may be shortening our attention span and ability to pay attention for long periods of time. For example, a study conducted within the Technical University of Denmark found that hashtags in 2013 stayed on top for an average of 17.5 hours, while in 2016 it only stayed for approximately 11.9 hours. This decrease in time of the trending directly shows how today's society gets bored too easily and we cannot stay satisfied. We feel the constant need for a new video or a new joke to come out, and then for the next one, and the next one, and the next. People now have a need for faster information, newer content, and more exciting trends within social media. These applications that generate short 15 second videos to watch have decreased our society's ability to pay attention over time, which I believe will become a bigger problem within the future. So, after a long process of researching and digging into these sources, I have come to the conclusion that social media does in fact come with physical effects. Sleeping difficulties, abnormal eating behaviors, decreased physical activity levels, and lowered attention span can all come from problematic social media use. Now, I don't want to paint social media as this bad, horrible thing that doesn't have any good use for it, because I don't think that this is the case. In fact, I think that social media has many good uses, and if it's used responsibly and not abused, can have many benefits to society. Social media can help us stay connected with people we may not see very often, and can also inform us of what is going on in the world. However, if we are not careful, social media can also have these harmful effects on our well-being, as well as cause the spread of misinformation. With all of this, I just want to inform the users of social media how they might be affected by it physically, and spread more awareness on this topic. So, thank you for tuning in, and come again next time. Thank you.

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