Introduction to Psychology



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Interacting with people using digital platforms such as Instagram® and Facebook® are increasingly common methods for establishing and maintaining social relationships, such as friendships.

However, do online friendships provide any psychological health benefits or are they just a "fun" way to interact with others?


"Do on-line friendships enhance or diminish psychological health?"




It has been greatly observed and witnessed in the recent times that individuals are using digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp for communicating with each other. The above-mentioned platforms have also become quite common among the young people for maintaining and establishing the social relationships that are mainly the friendships. People nowadays have almost forgotten to interact face-to-face or they also do not prefer to write a letter all they are interested is to chat through the online platforms. Throwing light on the above-mentioned discussion it can be said that the online friendships can enhance the psychological health of an individual but it can also diminish their psychological health. The entire essay will revolve around the entire subject matter that is if any type of psychological health benefits is received by an individual through the online friendships or not. 


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The advantages or the disadvantages related to the online friendships are one of the most debatable topics in the current times.  During the past decade, the social networking platform has caused significant changes in terms of how individuals interact and communicate with each other. There are a lot of studies that have indicated the fact that if an individual uses the social networking sites for a long period of time then it may be related to the symptoms and signs of the depression. On the other hand, some of the scholars have also highlighted that the social networking platforms might be connected with the low-self esteem in the adolescents and children (Ellison, Steinfield and Lampe, 2007). Arguably, there are other studies that have indicated that there is a positive impact on the psychological health of an individual who establishes and maintains their friendships via online. However, it can be said that the relationship between the mental related problems and social networking sites today also remains quite controversial in nature and the research on this particular issue is faced with a lot of challenges. More than 12 years there has a rapid development of the social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, MySpace and etc and it has also caused some of the changes with regards to how people communicate and maintains a friendship with each other. 
One of the studies in the recent years by the researchers from the Harvard University, UC San Diego, and Northern University have suggested that the online related activity such as the face-to-face interactions are connected with the longer life expectancy and better health of the individuals to a great extent (Matsuba, 2006). It has been also found out that the various types of the social media activities especially the friendship were strongly linked to reducing the mortality. Furthermore, the strongest correlation was found for the activities such as posting pictures that are connected to in-person social interactions. The friendships that take place via online platforms are also regarded as the lifeline for the individuals who struggle to find their identity and social support in their real life (Livingstone and Helsper, 2007). There are also a lot of studies that have concluded that the online friendships also have several advantages such as for the socially and lonely anxious youth and also for the hard and deaf of hearing people. On the contrary, there are some of the researchers belonging from all across the globe have associated online social networking platforms with various psychiatric disorders such as low self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and anxiety. Social networking sites are new to the world so there are a lot of questions regarding their potential impact on the mental health of the individuals still remain unanswered. It has been observed that most of the teenagers prefer and value online friendships more than the real-life friendships that are also the reason that they lose touch with the reality. It can be quite dangerous as it is neither good for the mental health nor it is good for the physical health. There are a large number of cases that happened all across the globe due to the online friendship, for example, if an individual is psychologically ill due to the online friendship established by them then they have also committed suicide (Subrahmanyam and Greenfield, 2008). 


Online platforms and symptoms of depression


Although a lot of researchers have argued on the fact that the online friendships tend to enhance the mental health of an individual still there are some of the scholars who have argued and proved the fact that there are a lot of potential reasons why an individual is likely to become depressed due to the online friendship. In the research, the researchers have found out that the increasing amount of time spent by an individual making online friendship have a high chance/ tendency of becoming depressed as there are other various factors due to which an individual gradually commits more time to the online friendship.  It has been also observed that the increasing amount of the social network development the time an individual spends in terms of making online friendship have also increased to a great extent. Throwing light on the above-mentioned segment it can be also said that one of the main reasons for which the time spent for making online friendship by an individual may be directly connected with the depressive symptoms is because most of them try to perceive a person in a wrong manner with regards to their personality traits and physical appearance. It is the reason that may lead to the incorrect conclusions regarding the other person with whom they are trying to make friends in terms of their intelligence, physical appearance, moral integrity as well as many other characteristics of their online friends. Moreover, when their expectations do not match up with the reality then they tend to be depressed so it can be said that online friendship in this segment becomes quite dangerous for the individuals to a great extent. It has been already said that although the online platforms may be regarded as one of the main factors that highly influence the development of the depressive symptoms but on the other hand, it has been also assumed that there are several characteristics with regards to the online behavioral that may act as the predictive factors in the depression assessment as well as identification.  Arguably, there is no still conclusive evidence that highlights the fact that friendship made through online platforms can be the depressive factor for an individual (Best, Manktelow and Taylor, 2014). 




From the above-mentioned study it can be concluded that although online friendship can act as one of the main emotional support for the individuals who are socially deprived but on the other hand, there are a lot of negative consequences attached that can harm the mental health of an individual due to the online friendship. It has been also observed that in the online friendship an individual always sets a benchmark for another person with whom they are making friends and when that particular expectation is not fulfilled they go to depression even they feel suicidal and a lot of suicides took place all across the globe due to this reason. Hence, it is recommended that if the other person makes someone's uneasy through the online friendship then they must trust their intuition and put some distance with that individual and rather try to make friendship offline that can be physiologically more helpful to them. 




1.    Best, P., Manktelow, R., and Taylor, B. (2014). Online communication, social media and adolescent wellbeing: A systematic narrative review. Children and Youth Services Review, 41, 27-36.
2.    Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., and Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends:” Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of computer-mediated communication, 12(4), 1143-1168.
3.    Livingstone, S., and Helsper, E. J. (2007). Taking risks when communicating on the Internet: The role of offline social-psychological factors in young people's vulnerability to online risks. Information, Communication & Society, 10(5), 619-644.
4.    Matsuba, M. K. (2006). Searching for self and relationships online. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(3), 275-284.
5.    Subrahmanyam, K., and Greenfield, P. (2008). Online communication and adolescent relationships. The future of children, 18(1), 119-146.

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