Regardless the benefits of social media, it is important to know that social media not been an alternative for real-world human relations. It requires in-person contact with others to set off the hormones that alleviate stress and make you feel happier, healthier, and more positive. Incongruously for a technology that’s designed to bring people closer together, spending too much time using social media can actually make you feel more lonely and isolated and exacerbate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. (13, 14)
The current study aimed to assess the pattern of using social media among medical college students in Abha city. Also, to assess the effect of social media utilization on the student’s mental health. The study revealed that all included students use social media platforms by different intensity. More than half of the sample spent 6 hours or more daily using social media which is too much time period irrespective of high monthly cost of the internet (more than 500 SR). The most commonly used sites platforms were Snap Chat, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Social media use was nearly equal among male and female students, among different ages, and among all students regardless their academic level. One of the most important findings was that GPA was significantly affected by the duration of using social media. It was significantly lower among those who used the platforms for more than 6 hours daily. Many researchers studied the pattern of using social media platform among adults including students. A study was conducted to assess social media use among older adults by Bell C et al, 2013. (15) The study revealed that Fifty-nine participants (42%) identified themselves as current Facebook users. Against what was expected, there was not a significant difference in loneliness between Facebook users and non-users for this sample. A second study was conducted in USA, 2016 to assess Social Media Use and Access to Digital Technology in US Young Adults. (16) The researchers reported that in 2014, 89.42 of young adults regular used at least one social media site. In 2016, this increased to 97.5%. Among regular users of social media sites in 2016, the top five sites were Tumblr (85.5%), Vine (84.7%), Snapchat (81.7%), Instagram (80.7%), and LinkedIn (78.9%).
Social media use may affect users lifestyle including sleep hygiene, loneliness feeling, social relations and up to their mental and social health. The current study revealed that 46% of the students had poor mental health which means nearly 1 out of each 2 students. About half of the students (42%) reported that they suffer from insomnia. More than half of the students feel loss of self confidence and nearly three quarters of them feel that they feel like a worthless person. Good mental health was significantly higher among those who used social media for less time period (less than 6 hours daily) which means the more use of social media for long time can affects users mood and feeling of the surrounding period. Also it may make the user to object for many of his real life situation due to the ideal world he engages in with social media which in turn affect his mental health.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) conducted in their report that studied social media and its effects on mental health of young person and their wellbeing taken in considerations each positive and negative effects. (17) The social media is playing a significant role in the rise of poor mental health that we are observed in young person. The young person they underwent in their study stated that four out of the five most famous and usable social media platforms (Instgram, Snap chat, Facebook, Twitter) made their feelings of anxiety and depression worse. Users are spending more than two hours per day on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instgram are more likely to have poor mental health, such as psychological distress. In china, there is Brain imaging (MRI) studies, report that there are significant changes in the areas of the brain that regulate impulse control and decision making among individuals with Internet gaming disorder. (18) In 2014, researchers in Austria found that participants in one of their studies reported a mood decline after using Facebook for 20 minutes, compared to people who only visited some websites in the same duration. The study said people felt this low mood because they thought they had wasted their time using Facebook. (19) Locally, The majority of Saudi population is under 30 years which make them the most group using social media and games. In last year’s social media statistics reveals that the number of internet users in Saudi Arabia rose swiftly to touch 30 million people by the beginning of 2018. The internet penetration in the country has now reached 91%. (20) In 2016, study was done in Al-Qassim region of Saudi Arabia aimed to assess the prevalence of addiction to video games and its correlation with mental health, among 276 high school students, they found addiction to video games was strongly associated with psychological distress (OR = 4.1, 95% CI = 1.80, 9.47). (21) Another study was conducted in Buraydah, Al Qassim city, Saudi Arabia to examine relationship between use of social media and depression among 80 female teenagers were selected randomly. About one third of the students have diagnosis with depression and out of 48 participants who used social media more than 5 hours daily it is only 20 (41.67%) who had depression. (21)