There is no doubt about its importance in keeping you connected with friends, family members, and the outside world. But every good thing comes with a rider, and this is true about social media too. Therefore, if you are spending a lot of time on social media, you are also prone to stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, and it’s time to take a break from social media to limit your engagement.
There have been a number of studies that showed a strong link between heavy social media usage and the increased risk for anxiety, depression, loneliness, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media addiction may give rise to negative emotions such as inadequacy about your life or appearance. On social media, people generally tend to make downward social comparisons with those who are less skilled, or worse off than them. Though this may raise their self-esteem, at the same time an upward social comparison can also reduce your self-esteem.
How social media affects mental health?
Human beings by nature are social creatures, and they need the companionship of others to thrive in life. The type of people with whom we get connected has a big impact on our state of mind and happiness. It’s good to be connected to others on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, or Instagram, because it helps to ease anxiety, stress, and depression, while boosting self-esteem, provide comfort and joy, prevent loneliness. While this may bring a lot of positivity in your life, on the flip side it can also pose a serious risk to your mental wellbeing and emotional quotient.
Spending excessive time on social media may lead to negative experiences such as:
A sense of Inadequacy
Such is the effect of social media in people’s lives that in spite of knowing that the awesome images you’re viewing on social media are mostly manipulated, they can still make you feel insecure about how you appear or what’s going on in your own life. It’s natural for others to share just the shining sides of their lives, and rarely the low points that everyone goes through. Still, you cannot help yourself being envied and disillusioned when you’re scrolling through a friend’s photoshopped images at exotic destinations or reading about their exciting work.
Fear of missing out
The feeling of the fear of missing out (FOMO) is older than the social media itself, and sites such as Facebook and Instagram seem to create an impression that others are having a rollicking time or living better lives than you. The very feeling that you’re missing out on certain things in life can have a detrimental effect on your self-esteem, triggering anxiety, and forcing you to get connectd to social media more and more. If you are picking up your phone every few minutes to check for updates, or compulsively responding to every alert, you are suffering from FOMO. It is especially dangerous while you’re driving, missing out on sleep at night, or prioritizing social media interaction over real interactions because it can have serious consequences.
University of Pennsylvania, USA carried a survey among students who were connected to social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat for long hours. It found most of them suffering with feeling of loneliness. The study further concluded that the reduction of social media usage can make you feel less lonely and isolated and can also improve the sense of wellbeing.
To have good mental health, human beings need face-to-face interactions as nothing boosts your mood faster or more effectively than an eye-to-eye contact with someone who cares about you. Therefore, more you prioritize social media interaction over the actual relationships, the more you’re at risk for mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
Surprisingly, about 10 per cent of teens connected to social media are reportedly bullied on various social media platforms while others are often subjected to offensive comments. A medium like Twitter is heavily used for spreading rumor's, lies, and abuse that can leave permanent emotional scars.
The popular trend of sharing innumerable selfies and all your innermost thoughts on social media can create unhealthy egocentric behavior and distance you from getting connected to real-life.
The social media can be a boon or a curse, depending on how you handle it.