Social Media affects your mental health
There’s no doubt that social media is a huge factor that can dictate the way in which we live our day-to-day life.
While a few years ago, before the smartphone era, we couldn’t even imagine our lives being driven by a handful of applications, nowadays some of our biggest fears lie within the number of likes and shares our photos receive.
Positive Aspects of Social Media
Most studies show that social media can have its benefits and advantages, which we’re all familiar with. Surely, most people that use social media are acquainted with the ecstatic feeling you get when you achieve a certain number of likes or shares on a photo, when you end up having somewhat of a viral video, or just even when you find yourself making new friends.
Moreover, social media is a great tool for quickly learning new things. You have access to an immense variety of information – you just have to be careful with what you choose to believe.
King University created an interesting paper about why we post on social media, including reasons such as self-actualization, feeling safe, and fulfilling our psychological needs.
Social media apps also represent a workplace for a lot of youngsters. Influencers or people who work in marketing/public relations or just people with an inclination towards digital marketing can actually earn a more than decent salary from these apps.
However, have you ever thought about the negative sides of it? How does using all these apps affect you in an unfavorable way?
Negative Aspects of social media
Creating habits around using social media can also be harmful to one’s mental health. Spending too much time on social media can have a pretty big impact in the long run.
A huge benefit social media has, is that it allows us to get in touch with old friends and have constant updates on how they’re doing. We can also find people that inspire us, which we decide to follow, and why not, copy some of their habits.
That being said, there is a thin line between getting our inspiration from various celebrities/influencers and starting to actually compare ourselves with them. Numerous studies and research show that this is where toxicity can occur, and this is where social media can unravel its darker side.
Body Image Issues
We often find ourselves checking posts and photos and think “I wish I looked like that”, or “I wish I could also go there/do that”. Along with these thoughts comes the tendency to beat ourselves up and give ourselves a hard time, with toxic thoughts and behaviors.
How often have you watched fitness influencers telling you what you should and should not eat? How many times have you thought “They are always eating right, how come I’m not able to do it?” Or just the general “What’s wrong with me?” question, after jumping to the conclusion that someone is doing better than you, just after seeing one of their posts.
As you can imagine, these thoughts can and will impact your daily life. These are the kinds of thoughts that slowly dissolve your self-confidence and start raising all sorts of irrelevant questions and doubts about your own self.
A study made by Claremont McKenna College states that body dissatisfaction and disordered thoughts generated by social media often lead to serious eating disorders. Young women are desperate to raise the body image standards set by influencers, which is impossible to achieve, so they start developing eating disorders.
Another common issue that comes with the usage of social media is toxic positivity. We’ve arrived in a place where it feels almost forbidden to have bad days.
Everywhere you turn your head around, you’ll see an inspirational quote, maybe also attached to a photo that’s supposed to motivate you.
As humans we are, we are more than allowed to also have bad days. Just like in the world of fitness it is advised and perfectly normal to have a “cheat meal” from time to time, you are allowed to also have bad days in your everyday life.
While it is absolutely normal to not be in the mood to eat healthily, work out and be productive every day, some of the most famous influencers choose to promote the opposite of this – they seem like they have it all together, at any given time, which is practically impossible.
Social Media’s Impact on Teenagers
A study created by The International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering brings up another interesting topic: the impact social media has on teens and growing adults. Most teens nowadays suffer from body image issues.
They spent a lot of their time looking up to all kinds of people that tend to promote unrealistic body standards. Young people grow up thinking that they should look a certain way, even if, in most cases, models and influencers alter their photos to enhance certain aspects.
Losing Track of Time
Besides that, social media is also a big distraction. Parents can have a really hard time getting their kids out of their rooms, where they get stuck to their screens.
However, it’s not just about parents and children. For example, as a student, I can pay someone to do my assignment, just so I can spend that time browsing through social media and making sure I’m not missing out on anything that’s going on online.
Just keep in mind that the track of time can be easily lost while browsing through these apps.
A Healthy Approach
The healthiest approach regarding this matter is to constantly remind yourself that no one is perfect. Even if someone’s life seems absolutely immaculate in their photos, perfection has never been achieved, ever.
Every single person goes through difficult times, and that is inevitable. The beauty of social media is that you can choose what you want to share and expose out in the world. This is how some people might seem like they’ve got it all figured out – they simply don’t post about the negative parts of their life.
Choose what You Want to See
If you see a post, and the only thoughts that come to your mind are negative, maybe you should consider unfollowing that person.
If you find yourself comparing to others, or what other people have, maybe try to think of ways in which you can also achieve that, instead of spending days in a row being mad or annoyed with the respective person.
Getting More in Touch with Yourself
Usually, not being internally happy and fulfilled is one of the reasons we find ourselves compared to others. Before going on social media apps and starting to comment on other people’s appearance or behavior, try getting more in touch with yourself.
If there’s something you don’t like about your own person, try to find out why. Then, see if you can (or even want to) change anything about it. If you do, start working on that right away.
When people see something that they don’t like in others, it is usually just them mirroring their own person in the ones around them. What this means is basically that the thing you don’t like about someone is most probably something that bothers you about yourself.
Take the Time to Reflect
Mindfulness is hard to achieve, but everyone can do it. Getting to know you better and working on your own issues and problems is the best gift you can ever offer yourself. Try to live by your own standards, not by the one’s other people or society impose.
Reflecting on why social media affects you is a great way to understand where your fears are coming from, which will help you combat them, as well. Once you know what causes social media to make you anxious or just feel bad in general, you will be able to go straight to the source and demolish those thoughts.
Help Your Children Understand on Their Own
As a parent, make sure that you maintain a balance in everything you do. When wanting to get your children to do other activities, rather than playing video games or scrolling on their phones for hours, try to focus on the positive aspects of the other activities.
Our minds are amazingly complex, yet our brain has a hard time understanding the negative words. Studies show that it is way more effective to explain to your children what the advantages of going to the park with their friends are, for example, than to tell them that spending time on the computer or phone is bad for them.
In conclusion, you are fully in charge of choosing the role social media has in your life. You can use it for all its advantages, and benefit from this great tool, but, if you’re not careful, it can also bring you to some of your lowest points in life.
Hopefully, the latter is just a hypothetical situation, and you will be able to find the best way to approach this entire matter.
About the Author
Susanna Balashova is a creative magician in a world of (mostly) boring Marketing. She turns dreary work things to be interesting and effective, as well as likes creating her own world within some fanfic sketches. When she’s not doing her marketing magic, she writes essays for a well-known essay writing service. Reach out to her on [ Twitter] or [Linkedin].