10 Things You Should Know About Social Media And Mental Health Social media is hard to avoid in today’s world. You may be required to use it for a job or to connect with friends and family that live far away. Whether you use it responsibly or not can have a significant effect on your mental health. Here are 10 things you should know about social media and mental health:
- Social Media Is Addictive
While many people check social media regularly without becoming obsessive about it, some develop an unhealthy dependence on it. Social media can act like a drug, boosting a person’s self-esteem for a moment, yet leaving them wanting more. Research shows that individuals who rely on an emotional boost from social media expect it to make them feel better, even when they find themselves feeling worse afterward. They keep going back anyway. They check it more often to get more of a boost, making them rely on it more. People addicted to social media may also suffer from “fear of missing out.” They feel that others are living more exciting lives than them. Even if they aren’t part of it, they want to know what their friends are doing. They constantly check social media to keep up with every post and feel anxiety when they are unable to stay connected.
- Social Media Increases Feelings Of Social Isolation
Social media is an amazing tool that connects people who can’t be physically together. However, multiple studies have found that relying on social media for social interaction makes people feel more isolated from others. This may be because keeping in touch over social media leaves nothing to talk about in real life. It also makes meeting in person less urgent, since it’s not the only way to keep in touch. But face-to-face interactions are vital for good mental health. Spending too much time on social media can make a person feel that they aren’t emotionally close to anyone. You can find out a lot about people online without even talking to them. That’s not the kind of meaningful connection that we crave.
- Social Media Can Make You Less Satisfied With Your Life
Most people post the highlights of their life on social media. What you see is their exciting vacation or their picture-perfect family. It’s easy to feel like they have it better than you. You may also feel like they’re doing more than you—going to more parties, traveling more, or being more involved in the community. “Facebook envy”—or jealousy caused by social media—can make you feel less satisfied with your life. Comparing yourself to others isn’t healthy or helpful. This is true even if you’re feeling that you are superior to another person online. Maybe you think you’re a better parent or more financially responsible than someone else. Judging others and viewing them with contempt for not being the same as you can be just as damaging as jealousy.
- Social Media Can Affect Your Self-Image
Online comparisons affect your self-esteem and may lead to a negative self-image. Posting on social media too much can cause you to feel self-centered, always eager to show others how exciting your life is and the great things you’re doing. It can also make you depend on others for approval. It’s nice to engage people in productive conversations through social media. It feels good when people like the things you post. But if you’re sitting by your phone or computer, waiting for a “like” or comment, and if that response determines your self-confidence, that’s not good for your mental health.
- Social Media Can Cause Depression And Anxiety
Social isolation, less satisfaction with life, and comparing yourself to others can all lead to depression and anxiety. Addiction is often linked with these mental disorders as well. When you spend a lot of time and emotional energy on social media, there’s less time and energy left for healthy things that can reduce stress and lift your mood. Depression and anxiety can also result from “doomscrolling,” or seeking to understand bad news by reading every social media post about it. A lot of times, there’s nothing the individual can do about bad news. While it’s good to be informed, obsessing about it causes feelings of helplessness that aren’t good for mental health. Some people find themselves spending hours on social media researching one topic. They may stay awake later than they mean to at night, following links from one story to another—and increasing their anxiety as they go.
- Social Media Use Can Cause Poor Sleep
Laying in bed at night looking at social media isn’t a good way to get tired. It can ramp up your brain activity instead of relaxing you. If you read something you have an emotional reaction to, you may lay awake thinking about it. If you experience depression or anxiety related to social media, using it before bed can cause stress that interferes with healthy sleep. (Not to mention, the blue light from your phone messes with your body’s melatonin levels, making it harder to fall asleep.) Poor sleep can have a profound effect on mental health. You can’t deal with stress as well when you’re tired, and you can’t think as clearly, either.
- Cyberbullying Occurs On Social Media
Cyberbullying occurs on many social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram. A person may post a photo of themselves and receive hurtful comments. Some individuals stalk people online. Others may share personal information or secrets about someone else. Because it’s online and can be seen by anyone who is friends with the victim, cyberbullying can be particularly harmful. Some sites allow bullies to create anonymous accounts, so they aren’t held responsible for their actions. Cyberbullying has been linked to depression, anxiety, and suicide, especially among teens.
- Responsible Social Media Use Can Be Beneficial
While there are several negatives associated with social media, they result mostly from an unhealthy emotional connection with it. If you are careful to avoid depending on social media to boost your self-esteem or replace face-to-face interactions, you can benefit from responsible use. Responsible social media use keeps you connected with family and friends, especially those you can’t see regularly. It allows you to share things with them that may lead to an in-person conversation or fun group activity. You can learn new things through shared informative content on social media. Picking up new hobbies or skills can increase self-confidence and reduce stress. Social media is also a way to stay in touch with the outside world through reputable news sources. Knowing what’s going on in your community or country can help you interact more effectively with others.
- Social Media Connects You With Role Models
Social media sites like Twitter and YouTube encourage people to follow others who are doing great things in the world. You can find role models who stand up for what you believe in or live the life you want to live. The point isn’t to idolize these individuals, but to learn from them. Social media allows you to read their opinions, watch their videos, and listen to them speak. You can grow personally and professionally if you are mindful of who you follow and why.
- Social Media Can Provide A Sense Of Belonging
Social media sites provide an online community. Within each site, there are smaller communities of like-minded people who share interests or fight for the same cause. Joining a book club, contributing to a fundraiser, or participating in a community event can give you a sense of belonging. Yes, you can find the same sense of belonging by doing these things in person. But virtual communities connect you with more people and opportunities than those available at your physical location. They also fit better into busy schedules. Being mindful of how you use social media can help you avoid becoming emotionally attached to it. To learn more about mental health, speak with a specialist at Vertava Health today.