Does social media have a positive or negative impact on mental health?
Ironically, most people are looking for connection on social media, when in many ways it actually leads to more, not less, social isolation. Online connection has become a lazy and inadequate substitute for real, authentic, face to face relationships.
According to a poll by the The American Psychiatric Association ( APA ) . More than one in three adults (38%) see social media usage as harmful to mental health. When asked how about the effects on teens and adolescents, most people believe the negative effects are even stronger.
Excessive social media use can lead to low self esteem, loss of human connection skills, sleep loss, memory loss, shortened attention spans, increased risk of suicide and has been linked to both anxiety and depression.
How do we practice safe social media use and avoid some of the negative mental health side effects? Some effective strategies are:
- Turn your phone off during quality time with friends and family. Set appropriate boundaries for yourself and your family like no phones while eating and all phones stay out of the bedroom.
- View other’s posts with a critical eye, not simply accepting what is shown as truth. View them for the purpose of inspiration and connection, not comparison.
- Be selective of what you share online, mindful of your purpose, and selective of who you are willing to share information with.
- Connect with real people you know online, and make sure to balance online interactions with real face to face interactions as well.
- Make your mental health a priority. Instead of always grabbing your phone for a lift, alternate with other healthy choices like taking a walk, meeting up with a friend, or choosing a healthy drink or snack.
Remember that a social media post represents a moment in time. It is only what the poster wants you to see. They will share the most flattering picture, comments and perspective, but if never fully represents or replaces reality. Comparison is the killer of joy online and in real life. Remember to “check in” with how your social media use is working for you regularly and use the above strategies to protect your mental health. Most importantly, remember to keep your real life relationships a priority over online interactions.
“Here’s the bottom line,” said Melissa G. Hunt in a statement. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”http://newnormalmag.com/2017/05/the-influence-of-mental-health-on-social-media/
Do you have healthy habits around your social media usage that keep your use positive and productive? Do you have a pet peeve with how friends and family use social media? Comment below.
American Psychiatric Association, retrieved from: https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/americans-are-concerned-about-potential-negative-impacts-of-social-media-on-mental-health-and-well-being
Wolff, Carina, (2016, June 6 ) retrieved from: https://www.bustle.com/articles/164876-10-ways-to-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-social-media