An increasing number of studies have begun to highlight the impact of social media on mental health. In recent years, social media has catapulted itself into a pointless rat race to gain attention and popularity. The dawn of smartphones popularized social media addiction, and countless people seeking validation. And there have been many studies and debates circling the impact of social media on mental health.
Initially, social media was seen as a medium to connect, network, and build one’s online presence. Social networking sites are used both for public and personal communication. One can’t deny that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat are the cornerstones of social media.
But now, the perils of social media are redefining depression. Popular surveys and studies have associated usage of social media with affecting one’s mental health. Recent studies suggest that more than one-third of Americans consider social media as harmful to their mental well-being.
It builds an added pressure or peer pressure to engage in social media posts or post trendy content because of FOMO (fear of missing out). People share content to get positive reviews to improve self-esteem and experience a feeling of connection in their social circles. And people get addicted to social media in the hope of getting positive reviews or likes for their next content.
When people are too consumed or influenced by social media channels and their content, it becomes difficult for them to break free from the vicious cycle of social comparisons and the virtual world.
A British research in 2018 linked social media use to reduced, disturbed and interrupted sleep, attributed to stress, memory loss and low academic performance.
Protect Yourself From Impacts of Social Media
While you may not pay heed to it initially,, but social media addiction seeps in slowly in your sub consciousness. By the time you realize it, you are already unconsciously afflicted and entangled in a vicious web, making it difficult to break free. It’s tempting and almost an everyday routine to curl up on our bed and browse through social media platforms after work or in between our free time.
Create a Healthy Balance
Many people may not be aware but spending an enormous amount of time on social media sites makes you more antisocial. You are idling away your time flopped on your couch, aimlessly scrolling through your social media feed like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. When you get accustomed to the virtual world bubble, getting disengaged from the real connections gets easy.
Youth and especially the millennial generation are consumed with the Internet and social media trends. Many people start suffering from low-esteem and low-confidence. It’s easy to get sucked into the vicious cycle of comparisons against finely curated images of peers. Studies also suggest that social media’s perils are magnified for teens as they fall prey to social comparisons on social media.
So, while social media has both positive and negative impacts, it’s important to know the facts and limit your screen time. Spend more time with your friends or family and engage in a healthy routine. Make more in-person conversations and set time aside for other activities.
Use Social Media Mindfully
If the first thing you crave in the morning soon after you wake up is to check Twitter or Instagram, ask yourself why? If it’s because of habit or out of boredom, maybe it’s time to change the routine and focus on other things.
Mindless scrolling on social media can affect your mental health and hurt your well-being. It’s easier said than it can be done as we all know how we end up just scrolling through our Instagram feed or Facebook stories between work, meals, etc. Social media addiction is also linked to loneliness and depression.
So, make conscious steps towards breaking the mindset and practice mindful use of social media. You need to break your mind free from the reigns of social media and start living in the present. If you find it hard, start maintaining a journal. Express gratitude, find solace in nature, turn off your phone for a defined period of time. All these small steps can make a positive impact on your mind and life.
Detox From Social Media
While you need not go cold turkey, you can take a break from your Facebook or Instagram for a fixed period of time or, say, for five days a month. Studies show that people who are off social media platforms even for a week experience better life satisfaction and considerably lower stress. Cut off from social media completely for days and notice the difference. Delete the apps from your device if you feel you are constantly being consumed by guilt and social isolations & comparisons because of social media.
Social media is a powerful medium to be seen, heard and bring burning issues to the forefront. One cannot deny that there are both pros and cons linked to it. So, balance is essential between your online and offline connections and life.
So, it’s time you turn off your phones and make real connections with your family, friends and peers. As tempting as it may be to be a couch potato and curl up to aimlessly post or browse on social media, break free from the shackles of addiction.
Bring changes in your lifestyle that boosts your overall well-being and mental health. The impact of social media on mental health is colossal, and the risks Teens face because of social media addiction is yet another concern. If you feel your addiction is going out of hand, then maybe it’s time to seek help from counselling or reach out to your friends. Don’t let social media replace your real life.