So how does all this screen time affect our mental health? Regardless of overall time spent on social media, studies have found that the more social media platforms an adolescent user is, the more likely they are to have symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, just because you survived the wicked years of adolescence, doesn’t mean you are in the clear of the mental harm caused by social media.
No matter your age social media can Effect your overall happiness.
The constant scrolling and comparing ourselves to someone’s perfectly curated Instagram feed or relationship status update can leave us feeling unsatisfied with our lives. The in-your-face follower counts and the number of “likes” can cause us to feel inadequate. We’ve begun to derive our sense of worth of “how we are doing compared to others,” or more accurately, what others choose to put online.
Don’t forget that social media is just a highlight reel. People broadcast only their best attributes and best days online. However, as we are sitting there scrolling through everyone else’s “perfect” lives, while we sit at home watching a bad Netflix episode, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “everyone else’s life is so much better than mine.” The more time you spend with your phone in your hand, the further you stray from reality. And the further you stray from reality, the bigger toll it takes on your mental health and lust for life.
Social media boasts about the ability to connect and share with friends, but the lack of face-to-face connection is detrimental to our mental health. While it is nice to be able to connect with friends near and far, in person connections are still a crucial part of our overall well-being. A psychology professor at San Diego State University discovered that those who spend 5 or more hours a day online were 71% more likely to have at least one risk factor for suicide compared to those who spent only 1 hour a day online. Although, this does not prove that spending time online causes suicide, but the link between time spent online and other factors linked to suicide are important to study.
And as get into the effects of suicide on young adults and adolescents, we haven’t touched on the bullying that comes within the social media platforms as well.
With notifications constantly blowing up our phones, it only makes sense that we are feeling left out and anxious.This feeling is now nicknamed “the fear of missing out,” or FOMO. The steady stream of activity that social media portrays is causing fear that an exciting and interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere. Seeing what others are doing can make us feel lonely and left out of the excitement.
Without quitting cold turkey, is there a healthy way to enjoy social media?First, become conscious of the time you spend on social media. Many phones now have features that track these times. Weaning off of social media is difficult, remember we check our phones on average every 12 minutes. Try to turn off notifications for at least a few hours each day by enabling airplane or “do not disturb” mode. Use that time to do something that makes you feel good or spend time with a friend. Another important part of enjoying social media healthily is realizing how certain apps, accounts, or posts make you feel. Delete apps and unfollow accounts that contribute to feelings of inadequacy. Decluttering your feeds can make social media a place of inspiration and encouragement, rather than comparison.
O’Keefe G, Clarke-Pearson K, “Clinical Report-The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” Pediatrics. 2011 April; 127(4): 800-805
SWNS, “Americans Check Their Phones 80 Times a Day: Study,” https://nypost.com/2017/11/08/americans-check-their-phones-80-times-a-day-study/
Twenge JM, Joiner TE, Rogers ML, Martin GN. Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time. Clinical Psychological Science. 2017;6(1):3-17. doi:10.1177/2167702617723376.
Contributing Writer: Madison Skipper, Daybreaker Solutions