How social media affects your mental health and well being
Technology is the fastest changing industry in the 21st century; this is of course, far from being all bad, There are often tangible benefits that follow from it. But sometimes it can be scary. We usually don’t experience the personal and social effects technologies have until about twenty years after their apparition. And that’s about where we are with social media.
If you are reading this, it means that you are more likely to use at least one application of social media on a daily basis, but you’re not alone. More than three billion people worldwide are using some sort of social media platform. That number is only going to increase as the world is becoming more and more connected.
Studies show that social media platforms have a negative impact on mental health. According to a 2018 Study at the University of Pennsylvania that was published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, people who navigate through social media for more than 30 minutes per day experience significantly more depression, anxiety and loneliness than normal. What’s even more alarming is that most of us are far exceeding that 30-minute time limit: Global Web Index reported that average social media usage for internet users has risen steadily from 90 minutes per day in 2012 to 181 minutes per day in 2018.
Many people feel discontent after spending time on Social Media platforms; this can fuel major dissatisfaction with oneself and fuel depressive episodes.
Here are few common examples of how social media affects our minds :
According to the social comparison theory, we determine our personal self-worth based on how we compare to others around us. However, when you look at someone’s social media account, you’re looking at the best parts of their life, because they usually put a curtain the other parts they want to hide. Therefore, comparing a real person with an online persona leads to feelings of dissatisfaction and inadequacy.
It has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers. It can include posting rumors, threats, sexual remarks or hate speech. This form of bullying can have a major impact on the teen’s social life and self-esteem. If it continues, depression from bullying can lead to substance abuse or even suicide.
The delusion of thinking it will help
Even though social media doesn’t make us feel any good, we keep coming back to it. This is probably because of what’s known as the forecasting error, like a drug, we think getting a fix will help, but it actually make us feel worse.
The delusion of making us more social
Having too many friends and followers doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better social life. Therefore, spending too much time online talking to virtual friends only makes things worse, especially if you’re dealing with a problem that only real social interaction and support can help with.
Normalizing dangerous behavior
Groups who value dangerous behaviors like suicide, dangerous real life games, eating disorders and doing drugs are easy to find on social media. This can badly influence teens struggling with mental health issues or family problems.
It is certainly possible to be more thoughtful about managing the effects that the social media has on your mental health. In order to enhance the feelings of well-being, it’s important to try to take a break from social media and see how it goes or at least to try to use it in moderation.