By Rom Feria
We all know the health effects of tobacco, and yet there are still a lot of smokers in the world. For them, they get some form of satisfaction from smoking, but they know its effects on one’s health. As a general rule, we do not allow children to smoke, nor do we encourage them. In fact, we even have warnings on cigarettes, to educate them of what happens to their bodies if they smoke.
Facebook (and Instagram, and perhaps all social network services) is this generation’s tobacco (not that tobacco is gone, of course). Whilst most people see Facebook’s benefit of facilitating communication, it is not without corresponding effects.
People I have spoke with cite communications as their main purpose for using Facebook. However, if you ask them how many of their Facebook connections are in constant contact with them, they can only mention a few dozen, at most. Yeah, it might be interesting to see what your grade school classmate had for dinner last night, or what your cousin’s boyfriend or girlfriend looks like - but do you really care? Would you take time to call them, let alone meet them? I doubt it. Frankly, you just stalk them, for a lack of a better word. And if you really mean to keep in touch with your friends and relatives, you can always send them email, iMessage, or FaceTime them, or even better, meet them for coffee, or something.
Facebook, like tobacco, is addicting - and this is by design. Once you are addicted, other health effects may manifest, as evident in different research studies conducted so far. And let’s not forget the proliferation of “fake” news, psychological manipulation, presence of sexual predators on Facebook Groups, and online bullying! And don’t me started on the collection of personal information.
If there are documented effects that prove to be non-beneficial to one’s health, why then are the Philippines’ Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Commission on Higher Education, not doing anything to warn our parents and children about the effects of Facebook (and Instagram, and other social network sites), just like they do with tobacco? Schools (and some government agencies) are notoriously encouraging students to use Facebook! Perhaps it is time that these agencies start doing their homework, and start protecting our children.
 “Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults”
 “Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.”
 “Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms”
 “Facebook use, envy, and depression among college students: Is facebooking depressing?”