Social media can be a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, networking and collecting information – and having entertainment at your fingertips. Some popular social media networks include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest and TikTok. While these platforms can be wonderful for connection and discovery, the negative aspects can drastically impact your physical and mental health and well-being.
It’s part of human nature to compare. Comparisons allow us to form a baseline for where we are in life and where we want to be. But this can create a problem when we’re constantly comparing every aspect of our lives to the best of what others are posting on social media. Most social media platforms severely lack authenticity, leading to depression and anxiety amongst its users. Social media has the capacity to alter your perception of the world and yourself.
When we’re bored or alone, we typically check our phones to see the latest updates on social media. When we constantly feel the urge to occupy our mind with updates, news feeds and stories, we are allowing social media to affect our minds. This constant need for stimulation (and the reward of dopamine from reactions and comments) makes our brains less focused, more diverted and even addicted. Social media can make it more difficult to slow down to be present and mindful – both of which offer proven benefits to mental health.
Global social networking platforms aim to keep you consumed and scrolling for as long as possible. Because of the smart algorithms they deploy, social media platforms are really good at predicting your behavior, then using what they know to capitalize on it by pitching you specific, personalized advertisements or recruiting you to join certain causes.
There are benefits of social media when used appropriately. See our list below of pros and cons, and tips to follow if you feel you should reduce the time spent on social media.
Pros of social media:
- Enhance connectivity with friends and family
- Network with like-minded individuals
- Convenient communication
- Place to share feelings and opinions
- Expand knowledge and resources
- Boosting self-esteem
- Keeping up with trends and news
Cons of social media:
- Spreading of fake news/rumors through unreliable sources
- It is easy to become addicted to social media
- Cyber bullying
- Fueling of depression and anxiety
- Cultural aggression
- Impacting social skills
- Privacy issues
- Loneliness and isolation
- Low self-esteem
- Comparison and envy
- Unrealistic expectations
- Encouraging unhealthy spending habits
Tips to reduce social media usage:
- Turn off your notifications. On average, Americans check their phones 262 times per day—that’s once every 5.5 minutes! Eliminate the distractions of notifications.
- Try giving up social media for a time. First, try 1 week, then 2, then one month. Take note of how you feel mentally after each social media fast.
- Track your screen time on your phone. This is a great way to be aware of the time you spend and then make a goal. This way you can also see improvements as you make an effort to cut time.
- Take it away from your fingertips. Make it more difficult to access social media by uninstalling apps from your phone. Start with the one you use the least and continue to remove.
- Make it less convenient. Only check social media from a desktop computer, which is less convenient.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Put all your social media apps in a folder on your phone. Simply moving them and making them a little more difficult to access, can be enough to decide not to check.
- Set app limits. Give yourself a time limit, or decide on one dedicated time of day to be on social media.
Netflix 2020 documentary – “This documentary-drama hybrid explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.”