How much time do you spend checking your phone?
And how much of that time is spent on social media?
Social media can help us to feel connected with friends, however spending too much time on it can negatively affect our wellbeing.
“Six months of social media binging can lead to depression”, says a new study by Dr Brian Primack (professor of public health University of Arkansas)
So, there are three main issues to consider:
1. Sleep & Less Healthy Activity –
If you are constantly checking your phone and don’t switch it off at night then you won’t sleep as well as you should. This often leads to feeling down, depressed and increases anxiety. More screen time leads to less physical activity and unhealthy habits.
2. The “Like” Problem –
Chasing ‘likes’ often makes us feel insecure and doubt our self-worth. If we post stuff online, we put ourselves at risk of receiving negative and mean comments, as well as compliments or praise.
It’s very possible to become addicted to social media. Social media sites are designed to draw people into them and checking them can become a compulsive activity:
3. Social Comparisons –
If we look at other people’s pictures and lives and compare them to our own, this can lead to feeling jealous and anxious. It can seem like others are happier or having a better time than we are and this can result in feeling we cannot measure up, that we’re missing out or not part of the ‘in group’. Browsing social media when you’re feeling sad or lonely often actually makes you feel worse ☹
If you end up spending the majority of your time on social media, it’s time for a break. Not to sound like a parent, but social media can harm your mental well-being.
Social Media when used in the right way can be really positive:
- You can keep in touch with friends,
- Post things to make others feel better about themselves, and
- Share good advice.
- When does social media make you happy?
- Does it ever make you feel anxious?
- Would it help to take a digital detox and reduce your screen time if it is impacting negatively in any way as outlined above?
How Can I Reduce the Negative Effects?
There are steps to take that can help reduce the harm without having to delete your accounts all together.
- Set a Limit — It’s all about balance. Setting a daily time limit that you allow yourself to use your accounts will help you break the habit of mindlessly scrolling social media platforms. Before setting the limit, you may not realise how much time you actually spend on your phone and it will surprise you how quickly it adds up.
- Unfollow accounts that make you feel inadequate — You know the accounts we’re talking about. The ones that make you feel bad about yourself or invoke a sense of jealousy. The ones that leave you wishing for a “perfect” life like theirs. Click the unfollow button and find accounts that show more “real-life” images and messages of encouragement.
- Prioritise a healthy lifestyle — Be intentional about adapting healthy habits, such as resisting phone use before bed, getting an adequate amount of outdoor exercise, and eating a well-balanced diet. When you feel well physically and get the appropriate amount of sleep and nutrients, you feel better mentally and emotionally as well.
- Turn off notifications — We’ve all been there… You’re in the middle of something and not even thinking about your phone when a notification chimes, comes across your screen, and pushes you to neglect your current task (whether you’re doing homework or at work at the time) to check it out.
Turn off notifications. When you are ready to go on social media, you will see the material.
You’re not missing out (FOMO). It can wait.
It’s All About Balance:
However, if you are finding it difficult to cut back on your social media and feeling anxious/depressed, please seek assistance. Talk to a counsellor. Don’t let depression get in the way of enjoying your life 😊