Too Much Social Media Can Be Damaging To Mental Health
No one can avoid today’s social media reach. From TV shows to advertisements to the constant stream from our devices, we are going to be prompted to leave a comment, to tweet, to add a hashtag to our posts, and more.
While this has all become commonplace in our lives, studies suggest that this is not a good idea; in fact, too much social media can be damaging to our mental health. There are many different reasons for this.
Everyone has something they are insecure about. It might be a part of their body, their job, their background, and so on. No one is entirely happy with their lives, even if they say they are.
For the most part, though, these insecurities aren’t highlighted. They can be ignored as far as possible, and life can go on as normal. However, on social media, these insecurities are brought to the fore because people tend to compare themselves and their lives to the lives they see unfolding around them on Facebook and Instagram and other platforms. Essentially, our own self-esteem is lowered when we see someone else constantly bragging about how good their own lives are, and this is terrible for mental health.
The Human Connection
Human beings need to be able to communicate with others; it’s part of our DNA, and it’s also what makes us thrive. Forging personal connections is a big part of that, which is so easily missed when we are all staring at our phones or on our laptop screens. We are more used to seeing people digitally than we are in real life, and sometimes this can trigger feelings of intense loneliness and social anxiety. Social anxiety in teens is particularly problematic, as this is the only world they have ever known; they have grown up with social media being a big part of everyone’s lives.
Social media is a great way to look back at the past and enjoy memories that you might otherwise have completely forgotten about. This is not a bad thing at all; in fact, it’s very positive as memories of past events stimulate ‘happy hormones’ which, as the name suggests, help people to be happy. However, that’s only true if the memories are good ones. If they are not, the opposite will happen; depression can even set in. You might, for example, see a tweet or post about an event that you would rather forget entirely, but there it is on social media to remind you of what happened and bring up those negative feelings again. Or perhaps you’ll see a photo of a deceased loved one, and again, if you weren’t expecting it, it can shock you.
Plus, many people try to distort their own lives on social media, only posting information that they think other people would admire or be envious of. In other words, they only post good things, not the bad. This can leave us, when looking back, with a distorted view of our own lives. If things aren’t going too well in the present, we might wonder what went wrong, without realizing that we concocted the past ourselves and that nothing has really changed.
Lack of Sleep
Apart from all the information we are reading on social media, the simple fact of being able to access it as much as we can via apps, for example, means that many people (especially younger people and teenagers) are forgoing sleep to use social media. They will lie in bed at night and reply to messages or scroll through feeds – you may even have done it yourself – and go to sleep much later than they would have otherwise.
Not only is a lack of sleep going to have a negative effect on mental health, the light from any screens, known as blue light, confuses the body’s circadian rhythm, and that means that getting to sleep can be difficult, as can staying asleep or getting enough good sleep. You will be going to sleep with other people’s problems or complaints on your mind, and that won’t lead to a good night’s sleep either. Lack of sleep can lead to anxiety and depression, so it’s best to stop using social media at least two hours before bed.
Although social media has opened up the world and means that people can form connections and learn more, it can have some devastating effects on mental health. This is why reducing the amount of time you spend online is an excellent way to start making improvements in your life.
Maggie Hammond is a proud mama to two little people, and perhaps one too many furry friends. She is passionate about alternative medicine, the great outdoors and animal welfare.