As a digital nomad, one aspect of my job is to know the in’s and out’s of social media. And that brings me to give my share of insights about social media and mental health.
Social Media and its Effects on Mental Health
We are social creatures. The strength of the connections we make with people that matter to us has a huge impact on our mental well-being. Social connection has proved to alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety, prevent isolation, boost self-confidence, bring comfort and joy, and even add years to your life. On the flip side, the lack of social connections can pose a serious risk to your mental and emotional well-being.
Social media use and mental health is a controversial topic. In this era that we live in many count on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok to connect with people and share ideas. While there are numerous benefits, it’s vital to keep in mind that social media cannot replace real-world human connection. The in-person connections which trigger hormones, alleviate stress and add meaning to life make a bigger difference than staying glued to a screen. In fact, social media and mental health research have shown that people who prefer to communicate on social media rather than in-person has displayed moderate to severe depressive symptoms.
At present, many studies on social media and mental health had shown a strong link between indulging in social media and an increased risk for loneliness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Also, social media and mental health statistics have shed light on the fact that 20 percent of people with at least one social media profile think they really have to check it out at least once every three hour period in order to avoid feeling anxiety. This phenomenon is labeled as FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out.
Other social media and mental health issues include, but not limited to;
- Inadequacy about your life or appearance
Images from social media have the tendency to make you feel uncomfortable about how you appear or what happens in your own life. We are all mindful that people share only the highlights of their lives. But that doesn’t necessarily alleviate the feelings of envy and frustration.
This is a major revelation in the debate on mental health and social media. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania discovered that more use of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook enhances feelings of loneliness rather than decrease them. In contrast, the study found that reducing the use of social media could potentially make one feel less lonely and isolated and enhance one’s overall health.
- Anxiety and depression
Depression and anxiety are almost unavoidable issues when discussing social media and mental health. To be mentally healthy human beings, we require face – to – face communication. Nothing reduces stress and improves the spirit more easily or more efficiently than eye-to-eye contact with someone who cares about you. Spending more time interacting in social media over in-person relationships creates a greater risk of developing or aggravating mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Approximately 10 percent of teens report getting harassed on social media. Social media platforms like Twitter can be ways to spread hurtful rumors.
Sharing endless selfies and all your personal thoughts on social media endlessly can create an unhealthy and fake self-absorption and distance you from your friends and family in real life.
Steps to Take Towards Eliminating the Bigger Problem
It’s in your hands to be mindful of the negative effects social media can have on your mental health and ensure you take steps to prevent it from consuming your life. Here are a few tips you can implement;
- Use an app to track how much time on social media you spend every day. And set a goal on how much less time you spend checking social media.
- Switch the phone off at certain times of the day, such as working out at the gym, or when you’re driving, having dinner, spending time with friends offline, or playing with your children.
- Refrain from taking your phone or tablet to bed, and instead switch these devices off and put them to charge in a different room.
- Disable social media alerts. It is hard to resist the phone’s constant vibration or beeping that alerts you to new notifications or messages.
- Set limits to how often you check your phone. For instance, start with every 15 minutes and then increase it to 30 minutes, 1 hour, and so forth.
- Make an attempt to remove social media apps from your phone, which will give you access to social media only via a tab or the computer. You can try removing one app at a time and actually see for yourself how much you miss it.
Feelings of sadness, disappointment, anger, or isolation stemming from spending too much time on social media might affect your life. It may be time to review your online habits to pursue a healthier balance.