There are now 3.78 billion users of social media worldwide. This is a 32.2% increase in five years, with average annual growth of 7.2%.
Social media has had a huge impact, especially during the pandemic. It enables people to meet virtually and share their thoughts and experiences. It's used for entertainment, shopping, marketing and promotion.
However, like fire social media has its destructive side. Studies have found a strong link between heavy social media use and depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
What's worse is when social media is used to cause harm. On an individual level, there is cyber stalking and bullying. Terrorist groups such as ISIS use it to recruit, and domestic terrorists used it to plan the attack on the U. S. Capitol. On the national level, Russia used hacking and disinformation to influence American elections, and China uses it for thought control.
Social media can never be a replacement for connection with real people. Next to meeting in person, it's important to call relatives, friends and co-workers on a regular basis. Besides relieving feelings of isolation, having multiple sources of opinion and information reduces falling prey to misinformation and conspiracy theories.