Social media addiction turning into a mental health challenge

by IANS |

Ranchi, Oct 29 (IANS) An 18-year-old youth was taken to the Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) in Kanke, Ranchi, by his family. They complained that he was not attending college since the last two months, he felt afraid in leaving the house, and had stopped eating and drinking for the last 4-5 days. They added that even after a lot of persuasion, they could only manage to get 2-4 spoonfuls of food in his mouth.

Before being examined by the senior doctor in the OPD, the junior doctor inquired about his education, hobbies, career, drug addiction etc. In this counselling session, it was revealed that the youth used to travel to different places and filmed videos to upload them on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Despite making more than 65-70 videos, he could not garner the attention he expected. Gradually, he started feeling like a failure. It started with sleeplessness and reached the point of an unknown fear rooted in his mind.

Many such cases are being reported every month in CIP, in which the reasons for such problems are related to name-fame, likes-views and comments on social media.

Ajay Bakhla, senior psychiatrist at RIMS, Ranchi, says that social media addiction is emerging as a major cause of psychiatric illness these days. It is a common problem that people expect a lot in virtual life and fall into depression when they do not get the desired results.

Depression hits when users compare themselves to famous celebrities on social media and and do not get the expected response to their own posts.

The allure of achieving instant success on social media is proving to be deadly, people are putting their lives at risk to make reels, videos and while taking selfies. Tragic incidents connected to social media platforms are coming to the fore almost every month in Jharkhand.

On October 9, 8-10 students of the College of Horticulture in Chaibasa district came to bathe in the Sanjay river. Two students from this group, identified as Rajan Kumar Singh of Chatra and Sachin Kumar Singh of Dumka, were swept away in the strong current while making reels and clicking selfies. Their bodies were recovered by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team the next day.

On October 16, three youths were hit by a goods train while taking selfies on a river bridge near Latehar railway station. One youth named Nasir Ansari died instantly, while the other two were seriously injured.

There were three such incidents in Jamshedpur in June-July, in which three people were swept away in the river while trying to make reels or take selfies. On July 2, Suraj Kumar alias Sonu, aged 24, drowned while he was trying to make an Instagram reel.

On July 5, 16-year-old Vikrant Soni drowned in Kharkai river in Bagbera area and a 17-year-old Kishore drowned in Baroda Ghat in Bagbera in the third week of June.

Criminals in Jharkhand are also fond of uploading videos and photos on social media. On October 22, Lalan Yadav from Palamu district, uploaded a video on social media waving a pistol.

The police took cognizance when the video became viral. Yadav was arrested and the police busted a mini gun factory and arrested seven more people on the basis of his statement.

Rahul Kumar Gupta alias Sholay, who shot dead Ranjit Sardar in Jamshedpur on October 3 near a Durga Puja pandal, had uploaded a threatening video on social media five days before the incident.

Similarly, on June 8, before entering Manpreet Pal Singh's house in Agrico area of Jamshedpur and shooting at him, accused Puran Chaudhary had uploaded photos with many weapons on Facebook.

Gangsters Sujit Sinha and Aman Sahu, lodged in different jails in Jharkhand and named in dozens of criminal cases, had also been uploading videos and photos of many weapons, including AK-47, on social media.

Jamshedpur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Prabhat Kumar, says that a special team has been formed under the leadership of City Superintendent of Police (SP) to monitor the activities of criminals on social media.

In June, after gang raping a girl in Godda, the accused made a video of the incident viral. Seven people were arrested in this case.

In August, the students of Class IX of Scheduled Tribe Residential School in Gopikandar police station area of Dumka district thrashed two teachers of the school after tying them to a tree, for being given low marks in the exams and posted a video of the incident online which went viral.

Psychologist Dr Dharmendra Kumar says that there is a need to formulate strict guidelines for social media users, especially content creators. It is necessary to control the way social norms are being ignored while making videos and reels.

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