Side Effects of Social Media on Mental Health
If you spend too much time on social media and feel frustrated, dissatisfied, sad, or lonely, now is perhaps the time to analyze your social media engagement.
We, as human beings, are social creatures and need others' companionship to thrive. Our connections greatly affect our mental health. A good social relationship reduces anxiety, stress, depression and adds years to your life by preventing loneliness. On the other hand, a lack of healthy social connections can be a severe threat to emotional and mental health.
We rely on social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to connect with others. Although all these are beneficial in some ways, social media can never be a substitute for human connections in the real world. In-person contact is vital to activate hormones that reduce stress and allow you to feel joy. Spending large amounts of time on social media leads to mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Side Effects of Social Media
Everyone has their frequencies to spend time on social media; often, you check for updates or make posts to indicate your use, but how this usage impacts your mood is the concern. Like, it may be trouble if social media usage causes you to distract from work, ignore real-life relationships, or make you angry, jealous, or depressed. Also, if you turn to social media because you feel lonely or bored, or post something to put others in an inferiority complex, then this is a sign of your social media habits, and you need to replace them.
Here are some signs that your mental health is affected by social media:
You spend excessive time using social media than spending time with real-world friends. Using social media has become very popular even if you are out with your family or friends. You constantly check social media and feel like others are having more fun than you.
You often compare yourself with others on social media, feel low self-esteem, or get into an inferiority complex.
You become worried about cyberbullying that you can’t control what people post about you.
You feel distracted at work because you have to post regular content, get likes or comments, or quickly respond to friends' posts.
You can’t manage time for self-reflection as you are more engaged with social media and have little or no time left to reflect on you, your thinking, or your actions — the most important things that help you grow as a person.
To get more likes or shares on social media you engage in risky behavior such as playing dangerous pranks, cyberbullying others or posting embarrassing content.
You are facing sleep problems. You check social media first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, or even when you wake up at night. The phone's light interferes with your sleep, which can seriously affect your mental health.
You feel an increase in depression or anxiety symptoms. Instead of overcoming them, you feel more sadness and feel lonelier.
How to Cope With It?
Change Your Focus
Focus on your motivation to log in; this helps you avoid many negative aspects of social media and can improve your mood. This way, you will also spend less time on social media. Use social media for specific purposes like to contact a friend who is ill, find some information, or share your family photos.
If you're logging in just because you're bored or want to see likes from the previous post, your experience may be very different. The next time you use social media, just focus on your motivation to log in. You may ask these questions yourself: Are you using social media as a real-life alternative? Are you an active user? Does social media make you feel frustrated about your life?
Decrease Social Media Usage
A study from the University of Pennsylvania shows that decreasing the use of social media to 30 minutes daily decrease sleep problems, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and FOMO levels. But to improve your mental health, you don't have to cut back on your social media use. The same study concluded that just paying more attention to your use of social media can benefit your focus and mood. Reducing the use of social media to 30 minutes daily may seem a tiny target, but we can still benefit from it. With the emergence of new apps like the Truth social media platform, Get social media platform and DWAC, its more important than ever to stay focused and conscious of these habits.
Spend Time with Offline Relationships
To be healthy and happy, we need the face-to-face company of our loved ones. Ideally, social media helps in the best manner to connect with real-life relationships. But virtual connections are not healthier than real-life friendships in your life; there are various ways to have more beneficial connections without relying on social media.
You can set aside some time to interact with your loved ones every week. Arrange a meet-up with your friends for face-to-face interaction. Find a hobby that you enjoy and join a group of like-minded people you meet regularly. If you don't have someone to spend time with, contact someone you know, or you may interact with strangers. Connect with the people you meet on the coffee shop, public transport, or grocery store.
Comparing yourself with others keeps you focused on the frustrations and disappointments of life. By practicing mindfulness, you can be more focused in the present moment, avoid negative thoughts and improve your overall mental health.
Practicing gratitude for things you have can relieve the frustration, anxiety, and dissatisfaction caused by social media. Take some time to reflect. Keep a gratitude journal and write three things you are grateful for every day. Write your great memories and people you will remember if they suddenly disappear from your life.
As human beings, we need social connections for a happy life, so we love to help others. Helping others assists you in improving your relationships with others and makes you feel grateful and more joyful.
You can help teens and children to use social media responsibly:
First, keep your children away from social media by encouraging them to pursue physical activities including real-world interaction.
You can monitor and limit the use of social media of your child. Parental control apps can help you restrict your child's data usage or restrict the use of phone usage to a particular time.
Teach your child that social media is far from people's lives.
Talk to your child about various issues, like is your child experiencing social anxiety? Are home problems a source of stress for them? Problems with the use of social media can mask deeper issues.
Restrict social media until your child has finished their homework, done their dinner, etc.