Be it scrolling through our news feeds and comparing ourselves to others, or simply spending hours mindlessly clicking and interacting with other users, social media has the potential to shape our emotions, thoughts, and behaviour in countless ways. For some, this use of technology can be a positive thing that encourages connection and self-expression. However, for others, the constant barrage of content from various social platforms can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem.
As awareness grows around the detrimental the effects of social media on mental health, many users are taking steps to reduce their dependence on online platforms. Strategies such as deleting apps from your phone or limiting your use to strictly work-related activities can be effective ways to minimise these negative effects. In addition, seeking support from professionals or trusted peers can also be helpful for individuals struggling with issues related to social media usage. Ultimately, it is clear that social media must be used with caution in order to maintain good mental health and well-being.
However we choose to engage with social media, it is important that we remain mindful of how it affects us individually. By being aware of its influence on our mental well-being and taking steps to manage its impact on us, we can reap the many benefits that technology has to offer while also protecting ourselves from its potential dangers. Some ways in which social media can impact your mental health are:
1. Social media can negatively affect your self-esteem. Constant exposure to highly-curated images of other people’s seemingly perfect lives can make you feel inadequate and insecure about yourself and your own life.
2. Research has shown that social media users are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and loneliness. In fact, an analysis of over 200 studies found that there is a direct link between increased use of social media and increased rates of depression among young people.
3. Social media addiction can also affect your mental health by disrupting the quality of sleep you get at night. Sleep disruption in particular can cause mood swings, irritability, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and depression. It also interferes with habits like exercising or eating well.
4. Social media can also exacerbate symptoms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Exposure to negative comments on social media sites can cause people with mental health issues to feel worse about themselves and experience more negative feelings.
5. Social media platforms can contribute to impostor syndrome: the feeling that you don’t deserve your success or recognition, that you will be “found out” for faking it, and that others are smarter than you. This type of insecurity can harm your mental health by causing constant worry and low self-esteem.
If used in moderation, social media can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family. But, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to protect your mental health.