The Positive Diet: Social Media

I am an absolute nerd for positive psychology. Over the past year, I have been enamored with the simple concept that being positive is a competitive advantage. It sounds so easy: if I am positive, I will be happier and perform better. But if the correlation between performance and positivity is so profound, why doesn’t everyone practice it?

There is no simple answer; in fact, there are hundreds of answers that can correlate to negative behavior. To talk about all of them would be next to impossible and way above my pay grade, but today, I would like to focus on the impact of media and social media.

In a large-scale, long-term scientific study done by psychologist Jean Twenge, there was a strong positive correlation between adolescents who reported mental health issues and adolescents who spend more time on smartphone-related activities, primarily social media. This correlation shows that increased suicide rates in 2012 were likely brought on by rising levels of depression and anxiety stemming from social media use.

The effects of social media use are wide-reaching, but it’s not like we don’t know about them. At Bettendorf High School, I can just about guarantee that there have been over a hundred papers or short essays written on the negative impact of social media. In fact, our headline story on the April edition of the Growl was about just that. But despite our student body and teenagers’ general awareness of the issue, the use of social media has not decreased. In actuality, teens spend an average of nine hours a day online.

But how does the social media we consume affect us? Bailey Parnell has an absolutely fantastic Ted talk