Gadgets and social media have become an integral part of the life of young people or millennial generation today. However, social media usage can be one of the triggers of depression in adolescents.
“Social media has long been an important factor. The problem is, it can be either positive or negative. Social media users are not very selective in filtering online information, so young people nowadays tend to reap the negativity,” said public health expert, Prof. Siswanto Agus Wilopo, Wednesday (5/9) at the Faculty of Psychology UGM.
He delivered the statement at the event themed Pre-Convention on Depression and Culture: “The Untold Story” as the opening of Public Mental Health Weeks (PMHW) 2018. He explained that through social media, adolescents gain the access to a wide range of information. Without the ability to filter positive contents, the abundance of information can actually bring negative impacts to their psychological condition.
“When there are too much information and zero filters, social media might cause stress.”
According to Siswanto, one of the pressures created by social media is related to the adolescent's perception of body image.
Beauty standards emerging from social media often put pressure on adolescents to present themselves in such a way as what they see on the platforms. This might cause the loss of confidence if they are unable to meet the standards.
In order to avoid such effect, Siswanto stressed that every adolescent needs to be capable of sorting out positive and negative information. Resilience is also important so that they will not be easily affected by social pressure from social media.
“If we consider the experience of adolescents nowadays, they perceive beauty as model-like skinny body figure and so on. In this case, the key is resilience of each individual, how we take negative information and not let it affect us,” he stated.
Besides resilience, he mentioned that one of the ways to prevent depression in adolescents lies in the role of parents. In his opinion, parents need to build good communication with their teenage children.
“The direct role of parents is by building communication. Parents should be able to detect whether their children indicate positive or negative behaviors,” said Siswanto.
Regarding that matter, clinical psychologist expert, Prof. Sofia Retnowati, mentioned several signs of depression, such as changes in attitudes and behaviors, low self-esteem, and difficulty concentrating.
In addition to social media, everyday situations faced by individuals can also trigger stress. This trigger, Sofia said, is not something that can be avoided. To prevent depression, each individual needs to find a way to deal with these triggers properly and to bring positivity for mental health, such as by exercising and increasing social interaction.
“People today might be sitting together yet being occupied with their own gadgets instead of interacting with one another. This is the kind of social support we need to improve. Other than that, exercise can also prevent depression,” said the lecturer of Faculty of Psychology UGM.