When we hear the words “social media ”, what immediately comes to mind are the platforms and sites that the majority of people use such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. However, social media actually refers to the means of communicating and interacting with other people virtually. Most of the time, we are allowed to create our own content, share posts, and exchange information through these platforms and to virtual communities and networks.

As of the year 2020, it has been recorded that 49.03% of the world population are active in social media. Gone were the days when people defined social media as the act of sending an email to one another or creating an email address in Yahoo so that they can keep up with the news. We are now in the midst of a technological age and the internet, especially social media platforms, are evolving.

While many of us find joy and love staying connected with people through social networks, overindulgence in its usage is found to negatively affect our mental health, fueling feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability, and being left out. After all, too much of anything is always bad.

It is natural for us to seek and crave interactions and the companionship of others, as humans are designed to be social creatures. The proverb “no man is an island” stemmed from this innate need to be connected with one another. Social media has made things easier for us to stay updated with each others’ lives through uploading content such as messages and pictures, and chatting with those who are part of our social network. Multiple researchers have concluded that engagement on these platforms is good for our health both mental and physically.

On the other hand, excessive use of social media often makes us forget that we need real-world human connection. Sure, online interaction is great but face to face contact with others has greater benefits that social media could never give, such as triggering hormones that help alleviate stress.

If you are starting to feel that you are spending a huge chunk of time in social media and feelings of sadness, frustration, and isolation because of its use are affecting the way you live and interact with people in the real world, consider taking a break, examine your online habits, and try to find a healthier balance in using the different platforms and your daily life.

guy over the phone using social media

The Advantages of Social Media

Social media itself is not really bad, which is why multiple users continue to patronize its usage. Sometimes, social media even has some mental health and social benefits.

With social media, you are able to:

1. Interact with those outside your community therefore increasing the number of people who are part of your social network.

2. Communicate and stay updated with what is going on with the lives of your family and friends around the world.

3. Join and support organizations that promote certain advocacies and social awareness.

4. Discover more ways to learn through research, articles, videos, and other learning materials.

5. Promote a business and reach out to more consumers.

The Disadvantages of Social Media

There are only a few researches made on the long-term negative effects of social media as it is still a relatively new addition to technology. Although this is the case, there are also quite a number of studies that found the strong relation between over-dependency on social media and increased risk for having depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

Too much social media may lead to:

1. Thinking that you are inadequate.

You may feel as if you are less than some people online, especially the popular ones. While it cannot be avoided that images of their extravagant lifestyle and perhaps amazing appearance will be posted, social media can make you compare yourself to others and often arrive at negative conclusions.

2. An unhealthy obsession with avoiding the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Because you do not want to be out of the loop, you will obsessively avoid missing out on information and gossip that are not of high importance in your life.

3. Feeling as if you do not belong.

Pictures of groups of friends can make you feel bitter and think that you do not belong to any clique. As this feeling increases, you also start isolating yourself even more because you believe that you are out of place.

4. Being narcissistic.

Gaining lots of likes, views, and shares boosts people’s confidence. However, excessive time on social media may aggravate the situation and highly contribute to being narcissistic, prideful, and self-centered.

Signs that social media is impacting your health:

1. Getting anxious when you have not checked your account for a short period of time.

2. Spending more time on social media rather than the real world

3. Constantly comparing yourself with those you see online.

4. Being highly distracted in school and/or work.

5. Doing everything you can to gain likes, reacts, and shares no matter how risky it is.

6. Increase in the intensity of the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Related: Why We Should Talk About Our Mental Health

What can you do to create a balance between using social media and improving your mental health?

1. Reduce the time that you spend online.

You should remember that you do not have to always be online or knowledgeable with social media gossip. There are lots of more interesting and mind-opening topics that you can discuss with the actual people around you. Furthermore, reducing the time that you spend online can increase your productivity rate and cause you to finish more tasks in a given time.

2. Create a focal point that serves as your motivation to spend time on social media.

Whether it is something light like checking on your sick relative or something of great importance like researching for learning materials, it is important that you identify your motivation for being online so that it will help you manage your time. Going on social media sites just because you are bored can contribute to social media addiction.

3. Make a schedule.

Plot the times that you can go online and the rest of the time that you have to spend doing work or study or be with family and friends. Making a schedule would ensure that you have a healthy balance between work, leisure, and time you spend on social media.

4. Spend more time with the offline people you love.

Perhaps you have never noticed it but your family and friends have just been waiting for you to get off of your phone and actually bond with them. When you are with the people you love, the desire to check your accounts is not as intense as when you are by yourself. Make new memories with your friends and family, and afterwards, you can share it on your social media account. Now that’s a good way to use social media!

5. Make time for you to reflect.

Abuse in the use of social media makes people less self-aware. Because of the amount of time that you spend on the platforms, you have no more time to reflect and really think. Making time for you to reflect on your actions, your day, your dreams, goals, and wants is healthy because they will motivate you to do well in school or work. Moreover, reflecting has no negative effects on the mind compared with social media. 

Much like everything else, social media is good when taken lightly and bad when one abuses the use of it. To remain having a good mental health and a healthy, balanced social life, let us ensure that we use social media in moderation and be more present in the real world. If you are having trouble with your mental health and your excessive use of social media, reach out to us so we can help.

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