Today, social networking sites have become an integral part of many people’s lives. By 2020, the number of social media users worldwide will be 3.6 billion. It accounts for half of the world’s population. This number is expected to increase to 4.41 billion by 2025. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/#:~:text=Social%20media%20usage%20is%20one,almost%204.41%20billion%20in%202025.)
The lockdown and curfew periods we are experiencing or have experienced since the outbreak of the corona virus is a major reason for the increase in social media usage worldwide. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this has made many of us addicted to social networking sites.
A teenager or young person spends about 4 – 6 hours a day on social networking sites. It greatly affects one’s physical and mental health.
Disadvantages of social websites
In Sri Lanka, most people use Facebook as a social media platform. According to statistics, there are 7.2 million Facebook users in Sri Lanka in 2020.
As mentioned above, Facebook has become a part of most people’s lives and has caused addiction. Although it is considered a healthy practice that everyone is using Facebook to keep abreast of news during the lockdown period we must also consider its negative sides. Unnecessary expansion of friendships, posting fake news, sharing them, racist propaganda, hate speeches and maintaining unwanted relationships cannot be considered healthy for the individual and the community.
Like the corona virus, the use of social networking sites affects people of all races, religions, ages and genders. Thus those who lose their precious time are not the only ones who belong to a particular group.
Are you afflicted with ‘nomophobia’?
What do you think is nomophobia? It is a psychological disorder that causes tension. Phobia refers to unnecessary tension. It can be of many types. Nomophobia can be referred to as a disease that exists for many today, both knowingly and unknowingly. If we can’t use our mobile phone for a while for some reason then if we get a tension it is a psychological problem called nomophobia. The chances of the disease being cured are slim unless medical advice is sought.
Symptoms of nomophobia include searching for a mobile phone when waking up in the morning, looking at the mobile before going to bed, charging the mobile frequently, and always thinking that the mobile should be under his gaze.
About 66 percent of people in third world countries are affected by the disease, according to a mobile-based study. It is the opinion of psychologists that the rate of this disease has increased during the period of corona lockdown.
How to use it carefully?
Rather than insisting on avoiding the use of social networking sites, it is advisable to keep the usage within limits and use it responsibly.
Psychiatrist Lukman Hakeem explained how to control the use of social networking sites and how to use it within a certain limitation.
“Telephones and social networking sites have become the main entertainment for everyone in this moment when everyone is at home. No one can be told not to use social networking sites in this moment of no work. But can offer advice for control. Normally one can use social websites for up to 45 minutes a day. This period applies to boys, girls, youth and the elderly.
Using social networking sites for 3 or 4 hours a day can cause psychological problems. Seeing and hearing news related to the corona virus will increases the psychological stress. Often our ears hear negative things about the corona. Thus a negative thought will form in us. To avoid this it is better to focus on other useful things than looking for data about the corona.
Everyone should consider this as a good opportunity to spend time in the family environment. Try to spend more time with wife and children. Many people at home miss out on that opportunity by making fake relationships on social networking sites. And some are addicted to pornography. One can get rid of this condition by adopting a self-timer, i.e. deciding not to use the phone after 9pm.
It should be noted, however, that such issues are not resolved in the short term. There is no solution unless everyone thinks they have to stay out of it or get out of it,” he said.
And according to psychologists, the use of the social networking site should be such that it does not affect our daily activities, including our education and career, including the things we usually do. For example, if basic things like bathing and eating are affected, it can lead to a state of addiction. Such people must of course take self-discipline to transform themselves.
Discussions on the increasing use of the social networking site in the West and its negative implications continue. But in countries like Sri Lanka and India, conversations about the impact of social networking sites are rare. People need to be made aware of this. Only then can this risk be reduced to some extent.