Is Social Media Making You Sick?
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Do you find yourself feeling down when you’re scrolling through social media channels? Or, do you have FOMO (fear of missing out) if you can’t check your apps on your phone every few minutes? Maybe you’re realizing you are angrier about just about everything these days. And you wonder – what’s going on?
It could be that social media channels are making you feel this way. While there are so many positive aspects to social media – you can stay connected to people you don’t get to see in person very often; you learn about events and activities you can enjoy in your area; you have a vehicle to express your individuality, etc. – there can be negative consequences as well.
During the past 10 years, the rapid development of social networking sites has changed the way people communicate and interact. The biggest social networking website, has more than one billion active users, and it is estimated that in the future, this number will significantly increase.
Recently, some researchers have associated online social networking with several psychiatric disorders, including depressive symptoms, anxiety and low self-esteem. There are many potential reasons why a user may tend to become depressed, feel anxious or have low self-esteem including:
· Less face-to-face communication in the family and with wider social environment.
· Different age groups can be impacted more than others. For example, children and adolescents haven’t fully developed skills to handle the challenges of social media.
· Fear you are missing out on important friends’ updates and events when you can’t check your news feed.
· Unrealistic expectations that are set when you compare your real life with the perceived happier lives of your friends, especially when only positive images are shared.
· Unrealistic expectations of your own self-image compared to the physical characteristics of your Facebook friends.
Tips to guard your mental health
· Cut down on the amount of time you use social media. Reserve your time on the apps for when you don’t need to be concentrating on something else.
· Turn off your social media notifications or put your phone in airplane mode during meals with family and friends and during work time.
· Don’t get online or use social media right before bed. Not only does the blue light from electronic devices interfere with your ability to fall asleep but engaging with social media can keep your brain waves in hyper mode instead of sleep mode.
· Take breaks of several days from social media. You might find you’ll be in a better mood and enjoy life more.
· When you’re scrolling through social media, be mindful of how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Are you just using social media because you’re bored? Are you feeling jealous or happy when you see your friend on vacation at the beach or on a cruise? By being mindful of your thoughts and feelings, you might realize your social media use is making you depressed or unhappy.
· Do you have “friends” on social media who only post negative or nasty comments that upsets you? Why not unfollow, mute or hide them? They won’t know, and you won’t be exposed to constant negativity.
Remember one of the most important facts about social media – it should not replace your interactions with people in real life. Everyone needs in-person connections to those around us. If you find your use of social media is affecting your mental health negatively, spend some real time with the people in your life and less time online.