Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family. It can also help us learn about different cultures and communities. Social media is not always bad. When used in productive ways, there are more pros than cons. However, social media was created to keep people continuously busy on the platforms. Constant social media use can cause us to struggle with our mental health. It can also make us feel overwhelmed.
Social media is used to bring people closer together. It helps us with distance, language, and other barriers. With social media being relatively new, we are still finding out how it affects us. However, some studies have shown the following negative effects:
- Low self-esteem
- Fear of missing out (FOMO)
- Depression and/or anxiety
These feelings are caused by the lack of in-person connections. This changes impressions and expectations people have of each other. Research shows that increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness are caused by social media. High social media use can also cause self-harm and suicidal thoughts. In a study by Uswitch, the average American uses social media about 58 minutes a day. When looking at patterns of use and time spent, social media can increase these negative feelings. These negative feelings become worse and worse, which continues this downward spiral.
Using social media is not always a terrible thing. The first step to controlling social media usage is knowing when it begins to affect your mental health in a bad way. Bullying, comparing yourself to others, losing sleep, increasing anxiety, and depression are signs that you should think about your social media use. You should also think about it if it begins to affect your school and work. Taking time away from social media is easier said than done. Even if it’s hard, doing so can improve mental and physical health. One suggestion is tracking or limiting time online and on certain apps. You can use an app to track time on social media apps, turn off notifications, leave devices in other rooms to charge at night, or delete the apps from your phone. Social media is often used in between other activities. So, tracking how much time you use certain apps allows for you to see if there is an issue. Changing your focus is also a good way to cut back on social media. This could mean starting another hobby, spending more time with people face-to-face, or joining a new club or class. Using social media purposefully gives you more time to focus on more productive, healthy habits throughout your day. These changes can help with wasted time on social media.
Social media is a great way to learn, keep in touch with others, and express yourself. The multiple apps, platforms, and services are meant to connect people. However, they can also consume your time and energy. These behaviors can lead to negative effects, which social media can make worse. When using social media, stay mindful of your interactions with others. Make sure to keep up with other hobbies to improve your experience. These hobbies can help prevent negative emotions.
This blog was written for Healthy Young NV by Maali. She is a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno and a High Sierra AHEC Student Ambassador.