How can social media affect your mental health?
Social media has kind of been a saving grace at times, especially during the recent pandemic that isolated the world. We are able to know what is going on in any part of the world at any given time just by pulling out your phone. In the recent pandemic, people turned to their online communities and spent time with the world virtually. Despite the community, you can find online of like-minded people, there are still negative effects that social media can have on you. Social media does have its pros and cons, even though it looks like the cons outweigh the pros.
THE POSITIVES OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The negatives tend to get brought up before anything else but there are positives to the social media apps. Socialization is something that is hardwired into the human brain and it is readily accessible and immediate when you open up an app. When people are engaging with their peers online, they may feel a bit more freer than they would being physically in front of someone. Being able to communicate virtually eases a lot of social anxiety. If someone does not have established social skills, they can warm up to people online before having to meet them in person.
Social media has made it possible for people to find escapes in reality or even people that share the same views as them. A good example would be LGBTQ teenagers that are living in a home that does not accept them. Having social media can help them find support among their peers and friendships. This support that is found online could mean all the difference to a scared and hurt teenager who does not feel safe at home or loved by their guardians.
In an instance, people can log in to feel connected and stay up-to-date on what is going on around them, even if they can not see it physically. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with old friends, family members, and work buddies. While you do not have to post anything online yourself, you can watch others’ lives by idly scrolling through your timeline.
THE NEGATIVES OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Unfortunately, despite being able to provide a community and support system, there are always the negatives that can overpower the positives. People tend to get a little braver online and are more toxic and more likely to cyberbully. Along with the negative effects from other people online, you can be your own worst enemy in the matter.
Sometimes you will fall down in a rabbit hole of scrolling and watching videos where you will lose time and sleep. Being on social media more often than not are also linked to traits of depression or anxiety. The equivalent of being the “popular kid” at school comes in the form of “likes” on social media. The way social media is set up now is that the more people that interact with your posts, the more other people see it. When you are constantly seeing other people get more attention in the form of likes, you tend to feel a bit left out. This could lead to them changing the way they look, partaking in risky events and even develop an anxiety disorder from it.
No one is untouchable when it comes to being bullied online. Even celebrities have to deal with hateful comments and reactions from the world. While celebrities have more of a following, those negative comments tend to get drowned out and looked over. This does not really apply to people who have not achieved a higher status online. People get tough behind a keyboard and decide to openly communicate their dislike and make mean comments to try and hurt others.
Privacy is a big topic when it comes to having an account online. A lot of people restrict access to unknown people but most don’t. When friend requests are accepted without a second thought, there is no telling who is really behind the screen. This could lead to children and young adults falling victim to predators.
People tend to only share what makes them look good online. While mental health awareness is spreading and people are opening up about their mental health, a lot remains to be seen what goes on behind the app. There are still users that want to portray a perfect lifestyle and be envied. While they may look like their life is flawless, they may be suffering from a lot more beyond the app. This could cause others to feel discouraged and feel down about their own lives. This could lead to depression because they think they are supposed to be living a certain way or they are not doing anything right.
It seems harmless to scroll through your social media at night before you drift off to sleep. However, it does more harm than good — if any. Not allowing your brain to shut down and decompress from the day or just losing time to sleep could lead to depression and anxiety. It is important to put social media away at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
People tell themselves they could delete the apps at any time and they are not on them all the time. Despite their best efforts, it may take a while to detox from opening your social media timelines. Now other apps have been developed to restrict time on certain apps — like social media. This could be the same as a doctor prescribing you something because your current medicine gives you unwanted side effects.
“Unplugging” from social media is equivalent of leaving your electronic devices at home and going camping in the middle of the woods. Thankfully, there are apps to track time on their applications so they can make a mental note to limit it. Even while it seems the world is more connected than ever, it can still be lonely.