Social media is one of the fastest-growing tools worldwide and has intertwined in every part of our life. Just think about it for a second — What do you check once you wake up? Is it your notification tabs on your screen? Do you scroll mindlessly on your feed until you drift to sleep? How many hours per day do you spend on your social media? (If you own an iPhone, you can check your “screen time” usage under your Settings — it’s shocking...) A recent study showed that in the U.S the average daily time spent on social media, is about two hours and three minutes — that’s around 1/8 of your waking day!
As the entire world moved to be remote, screen and social media time have shot up even more. But have you considered how social media affects our mental wellness?
3 Positive effects of social media on your mental wellness
1. Maintaining Connection with Others:
Social media helps us stay connected and up-to-date with people and the news. More importantly, video-calling or messaging platforms really have helped us stay ‘close’ to our loved ones, including friends and family around the world. You can be thousands of miles apart and still talk every day. Being connected and feeling ‘close’ to our family and friends can positively affect our mental wellness, especially during these days when we have to socially distance ourselves from people.
2. Finding Your Community:
Social media allows you to find new friends and new communities. This is great for our social and mental wellness. You can connect with people who share similar interests that you would have never met in your neighborhood. Connecting with people that share the same interests can help you maintain a positive mindset.
3. Fostering Creativity and New Ideas:
People on social media share their thoughts, emotions, and ideas to their networks. When you write about what you want, you increase your creativity. And when people engage positively with your posts, you will feel more confident in yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings. Your confidence increases because it makes you more satisfied that your ideas are heard and appreciated. This has a great impact on your mental wellness. You just need to be sure that you don’t solely depend on social media to be your source of feeling more confident nor the only way you can share your ideas.
3 Negative effects of social media on your mental wellness
1. Potential Cyberbullying:
When you are on social media, you become a target for bullies. These bullies will find any excuse to use against you, and if they can’t find one they’ll just make one up for you. It is hurtful to be bullied, which negatively affects our mental wellness. For example, reading mean comments might cause anxiety and depression.
2. FOMO (Fear of missing out):
When you see other people doing certain activities that you can’t do, you will probably feel down. Constantly feeling FOMO could even lead to depression. For instance, if you see someone you are following go on vacation, it can lower your self-esteem. And when you see your friends doing something without you, it can cause stress, anxiety, and make you feel more isolated.
3. False Self-Conceptions:
Social media gives you the option to use filters. We look at these perfect pictures or stories of others that portrait the perfect body and flawless skin. But what we don’t see is that these pictures or stories are edited. This can cause self-esteem issues. Many social media users state that instead of boosting their self-esteem, they actually developed lower self-esteem and cr
iticize themselves more often.
As you can see, there are beneficial and harmful effects of social media on our mental wellness -- both a blessing and a curse. But regardless if you are a fan of social media or think it is toxic, striking a healthy balance is so important. It’s good to see what your friends are up to every once in a while and to see some funny memes, just don’t let it consume you or have any power over you.
Here are 5 Tips for you to maintain a healthy balance between your social media use and mental wellness:
1. Support a healthy social media community
This is probably the most obvious and easiest one. Before commenting on a post, be mindful of your words — your words have power and can help support people. Being nice not only benefits others but also yourself too. Making people feel special or loved makes them feel good, and so will you. And you will probably receive good feedback as well. Let’s all start spreading some positivity!
2. Follow people & accounts that bring you joy.
There are many accounts on social media that represent a lifestyle that isn’t accurate to most people. Start following people that bring you joy. It can help you maintain a good mood and also help your self-esteem. Whether it’s food bloggers, cute pets, or motivational accounts, choose your pick! After all, social media is supposed to be fun, right?
3. Start your day without social media
This might be a tough one, but look, if you start your day by checking your social media, you most likely will see something that may distract you. I’m not saying don’t touch your phone till noon, but you can start your day by getting ready with your favorite playlist, eat breakfast, have a coffee or tea, and make your bed. Then, after your morning routine, you can check your feeds. By then, you’ll have a clearer mind with a more intentional start to your day and will be less affected by what you see on your phone.
4. Social media is not actual life!
I repeat, social media is not actual life! It’s so easy to believe what you see online without knowing the full picture (pun intended). I know countless people (including me) that had at least one fight because of social media. It took me a long time to realize that there is a vast difference between social media and real life, so before you jump to conclusions based on a post or a text, make sure you have a look into the actual reality as well.
5. Digital Detox
This is hard but effective. And if you are like me and have a love/hate relationship with social media, you probably tried a social media break already. The first step is giving yourself some time. Social media has probably been part of your daily life for some time and became a habit. One way you start is to create a daily limit. What I’ve done is to make sure I don’t check my phone or social media an hour before going to bed.
Social media won’t go anywhere soon, and it will probably become more frequent in our lives. In the second part of this blog, we will talk about social media and mental wellness with an expert in the field. We will also look into the cycle of social media use. While social media can be either a blessing or a curse to our mental wellness depending on how we utilize it, for now, try the tips I shared above to maintain a healthy balance with your social media activity.
By: Jil Johannpeter