Mental Health > Social Media
Have you fallen victim to the mindless scrolling and scrolling through social media? Have you been sucked into the black hole of liking, sharing, and commenting for hours? Does this leave you feeling unfulfilled or sad? If so, you are not alone.
The convenience of staying connected through social media has definitely proven strong during the current pandemic. Social media is great for connecting with loved ones and friends, when you are a part( or on quarantine). However, once you are on a platform it is easy to become addicted, which can lead to other problems.
Recent studies all leave us with the same answer; social media and depression are linked. A study done back in March by the Behavioral Health clinic found that of the 1,800 individuals they studied, they all spent an average of 4.7 HOURS on social media per day. That is over half a work day, 2 soccer games, 2.5 movies, over 5 episodes of a television show, and enough time to drive from Orlando to Miami, with an hour break for lunch and a stop for gas. The point is, that is almost 5 hours of not stimulating any brain activity, and seeing only what other people want you see. Spending this much time on social media creates anxiety, depression, and FOMO.
Seeing only highlights of peoples lives, leaves the viewer feeling inadequate, or that they are not living up to the “idea;” lifestyle of influencers and friends. The girl you see posting the perfect bikini photos on an island somewhere doesn’t show you the 7 days a week she spends in the gym, she doesn’t show you the green smoothie she forces herself to chug every morning, she doesn’t tell you that the only reason she’s on vacation for two days is because she desperately needed a break from taking care of her family and working 65 hour work weeks. The point is, you only see the one glimmer of happiness. You don’t see the blood, sweat, tears, and loss she has suffered to get to where she is. All you feel is, fear of missing out on something “greater”.
The mom you see posting photos of her beautiful baby boy, doesn’t show you the YEARS of IVF and miscarriages she went through. All a young woman may see is that she hasn’t been able to have kids yet. This leads us to the depression many social media users may develop. Constantly comparing yourself to others is DRAINING, and it can be avoided.
It is not only us, but the youth of this country facing these feelings. Social Media is the perfect platform for cyberbullying. Young users of these apps often see comments telling them they aren’t good enough, they aren’t “hot enough”, or other negative comments on their posts. Social media is the easiest platform for bullying. It is so much easier for someone to sit behind a computer and send hurtful messages. This can lead to substance abuse, a poor academic performance, not wanting to go to school, anxiety disorders, and worse. (Trigger warning) In my entire high-school experience, 6 teenagers committed suicide, and a majority of them experienced cyber-bullying. Schools have a hard time battling cyber-bullying because: it occurs off-campus, you cannot prove who is behind the username, and teens are less likely to come forward when they feel the system will not be able to help them.
Parents can take steps to prevent a social media addiction by:
-Create an open-door policy on conversations.
-Create other activities so that the child doesn’t feel bored and turns to social-media.
-Teach children healthy boundaries.
-Without making demands, teach them how to set time-limits.
-Suggest reading or writing out their goals for the next day before bed, instead of using their phone in bed.
Let’s focus on the world right now. Face it, the United States is collectively sad at the moment. We have a pandemic that some have refused to acknowledge, and how do we see this other side? Videos on Facebook. We have individuals that have been oppressed for centuries coming forward for us to hear their voices, but where do we see all of the arguments? Social media. Although we collectively need to make a change, it is okay to admit that the influx of political posts, videos of “Karens” causing scenes, and more posts about Covid-19 cases rising are physically and emotionally draining.
If you want to make a change, go to sites like change.org and spend the time signing petitions to impact the changes you want to see happen. Although you may feel the need to rant back, or blow up your timeline, it unfortunately may not make a difference. Instead of scrolling through social media for “research”, check out the local book-store or library and spend your time reading things you are passionate about. You can also use that same tablet or smart phone that has your Facebook app, to open Google Chrome instead, and read credible sources. Spend a limited amount of time doing this, and then take time to disconnect. There are many steps you can take to revers the negative effects of social media.
Advice and Tips:
Spend more time each day to reflect on your thoughts.
Write out/journal your emotions.
Do something outdoors.
Indulge in some self-care.
Take one week a month, and delete all social media apps from your phone.
Stop using your phone in bed. Leave it across the room if you have to set an alarm, and do not let it be the last thing you see/think about when you fall asleep.
It is okay to check social media daily, but only check it once.
Set a timer with a reminder on your phone, to limit the time spent on each app.
iPhones have Daily limits you can set on each app.
Check your screen hours in settings, set a challenge with a friend to get the least amount of hours.
When you first wake up- instinct is to grab your phone. DON'T DO THIS! Instead, wake up and set your intentions for the day either by writing it down or visualizing it. Take some deep breaths, stretch and we recommend trying some meditation for 5-20 minutes each morning BEFORE looking at that phone. The benefits are clear and evident even after just a couple days practicing this.
Another piece of advice I have learned lately, is to never compare yourself to just a second of someone’s life on a screen. No one is perfect, and everyone experiences their own tribulations and feels the same emotions.
Do not forget that FAM has AMAZING resources. If you ever have feelings of self doubt, sadness, or just need someone to talk to, feel free to use our “Ask a Mentor” tab.
If you feel extreme depression or experience thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and speak with a licensed counselor. Watch out for your friends and family. If you see a change in their mood, or an influx of emotional posts, advise them to speak to someone.
A message from our founder, Meghan Tarmey:
USE something with a bad stigma for doing GOOD. I truly believe any actions we do or platforms we use can be used for doing good and having good intentions. Moderation is key and using things for change, inspiration, positivity can be so uplifting instead of sharing negativity.
For example, I sometimes loathe Facebook and the bickering, conspiracy theories, overwhelming amount of negativity and arguing, but in eight days I also was able to raise enough money to feed 100 kids living in poverty in Guatemala for an entire month, I also helped rescue a dog here in South Carolina I found in the road and ultimately found its owner that lost him TWO YEARS AGO and got him back home and healthy within 24 hours of that Facebook post.
So my advice is- use it for good; it is an amazing tool to get things done quickly and you will start to see the gentle humane side of people depending on what you are posting and trying to do with it. 140 people shared that lost dog post in a matter of hours! Dozens of people, mostly unemployed due to a pandemic, without hesitation, sent money to support hungry people in a different nation. These people were democrats, republicans, from all walks of life stepping up in both situations to set aside differences and help the greater good. Before posting on Facebook, I like to think, “Is this helpful or is this hurtful?” More recently I have been thinking, “What if this was the last post I ever get to post and this is what people see after I am gone?”
-https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm -https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/blog/centre-mental-health-blog/anxiety-loneliness- fear-missing-out-social-media