Social media is part of our everyday lives. We especially notice during the current pandemic that we’re online more than ever. Social media is great for connecting with loved ones and keeping them updated on your life. However, excessive social media consumption may actually be dangerous for your mental health. In this article, we’ll be talking about 5 ways that social media may be harming your mental health. Please note that this article is for informative purposes only and not intended to give medical advice. Please seek help from a doctor or other mental health professionals if you feel you have a mental health condition.
1. Problems with Self Image
Seeing images of people you know going to parties, hanging out with friends, or on a sunny beach can harm your self image, especially if you’re just stuck at home. You may start to feel that you’re being left out and are missing out on fun experiences. This is called the "fear of missing out" (Robinson, Smith 2020). People who spend large amounts of time on social media may develop issues with body image. Seeing pictures of people’s bodies can cause someone to compare themselves in unhealthy or unrealistic ways. Self image is the biggest problem coming from social media, and each of the other issues can relate back to it (Whitley 2020).
2. Problems With Self-Obsession
Social media may cause someone to become obsessed with themselves and others. You may find yourself trying to post you at your best online, even if it isn’t accurately reflecting how you feel. Everyone wants to show their best parts and leave out their shortcomings. On an extreme scale, people may become obsessed with making themselves look good. This can especially cause problems in feeling connected to others as the self-centeredness can distance you from others. It may also lead to other issues trying to live up to your standards and to the standards of everyone around you (Robinson, Smith 2020).
3. Increased Feelings of Depression
Constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling left out can contribute to developing depression or worsening the symptoms. Some experts believe that communication through social media can contribute to mental health issues as well. They argue that the indirect communication is less satisfying than a normal face to face conversation; there’s less depth and emotional connection through text than there is in person. Humans are social creatures and being deprived of this need can cause problems (Miller 2020).
4. Increased Loneliness and Isolation
While social media is known to connect people to others, it can do the opposite in excessive amounts. Going back to self image, comparing yourself to others can cause these feelings of isolation. Feeling that the people around you are happier and more successful may cause you to feel like you don’t fit in. In fact, studies have shown that there is an increase in feelings of loneliness among people who spend large amounts of time on social media (Amantanstein 2020).
5. Higher Levels of Anxiety
While social media is commonly used to cope with anxiety, it can also cause anxiety. It is easy to get caught up in likes and followers and use that to define your self worth. Social media fuels the “fear of missing out” feeling and can attach itself again, to self image. While commonly used as a coping mechanism, experts feel that it can actually fuel feelings of anxiety; people may find themselves using social media as away to make their lives more exciting and feel down if they feel like they are not living up to their peers (Reed 2020).
While social media has many benefits in keeping us in touch with the people we care about, there truly are some negative consequences in spending too much time online. Fortunately finding ways to reduce social media usage has had positive results on people. There are numerous apps available for download to help monitor social media usage as well as other tips and tricks to reduce your usage. For instance, keeping your phone or tablet away from your bed, or setting a time limit on usage among so many others (Robinson, Smith 2020).
Let us know how you feel about the topic. Do you have any tips or tricks to reduce your usage? What are some other issues that social media may cause? Remember to reach out forhelp to a mental health professional or doctor if you feel like you’re struggling.
Amatenstein, S. (2020). Not So Social Media: How Social Media Increases Loneliness - PsyCom. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/how-social-media-increases-loneliness/
Miller, C., & Child Mind Institute. (2020). Does Social Media Cause Depression? Retrieved from https://childmind.org/article/is-social-media-use-causing-depression/
Reed, P. (2020, February 3). Anxiety and Social Media Use. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/digital-world-real-world/202002/anxiety-and-social-media-use
Robinson, L., & Smith, M. (2020, April 16). Social Media and Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm
Whitley, R. (2020, February 17). Social Media and Mental Health: Time for a Digital Detox? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-men/202002/social-media-and-mental-health-time-digital-detox