As human beings, we crave attention and social interactions with others. We need the companionship of others to thrive in life and the strength of our connections has a huge effect on our mental health and happiness. Being connected helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while boasting self-worth, provide comfort and joy.
In today’s society, we rely on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube to find and connect with each other. It’s important to remember that social media is NOT another outlet of reality, it portrays our worlds like no other. It should never be a replacement for real-world human connections, as it requires in-person contact with others to trigger the hormones that alleviate stress and make you feel happier, healthier and more positive. Even though technology is designed to bring people together, investing too much time on social media can make you feel more lonely and isolated.
Here’s some of the Pros and Cons:
- Communicate and stay up to date with family and friends from anywhere
- New friends and communities; network with people who share similar interests and ambitions
- Join and promote worthwhile causes; raise awareness on current events and issues
- Seek or offer emotional support
- Offers an outlet for creativity and self-expression
- Discover different resources of valuable information and learning
- Feeling inadequate about your life or appearance
- Fear of missing out when you’re not active on social media
- Depression and anxiety due to caring too much about what others think of you
- 10% of teens reported being cyberbullied
Self-absorption begins when your innermost thoughts on social media can create an unhealthy self-centeredness and distance you from real-life connections
Here are some signs that social media is impacting your mental health
- Spending more time on social media than with real world friends
- Comparing yourself unfavorably with others on social media: have low self-esteem or negative body image
- Experiencing cyberbullying: have no control over the things people post about you
- Being distracted at school or work: feel pressure to post regular content
- Having no time for self-reflection: every spare moment is filled with social media, limiting time to evaluate your day to day decisions
- Engaging in risky behavior in order to gain likes: participate in dangerous pranks, cyberbullying, and embarrassing material to gain more positive reactions
- Suffering from sleep problems: the light from your phone and device can disrupt your sleep
- Worsening symptoms of anxiety or depression: instead of alleviating negative feelings and boosting your mood, you feel more anxious, depressed, or lonely.
If you feel any of the above, you may want to reflect and change how you interact with these platforms.
If you’re accessing social media to find specific information, check on a friend who’s been ill, or share new photos of your kids with family, for example, your experience is more likely to be different than if you’re logging on simply because you’re bored. Next time you are about to access social media, pause for a moment and clarify your motivation for doing so.