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How Social Media Affects Our Mental Health

By Paige Greene
Web Content Contributor

Social media allows us to stay connected and keep relationships that we would not be able to otherwise. This connection can ease anxiety, stress and depression, but it can also cause it.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that you have to delete all of your social media in order to be happy, because that is definitely not the case. Being connected can boost self-confidence and even add years to your life but being over-connected is the problem.

In today’s society, many of us interact with platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and others. Social media allows us to communicate with people around the world, find new friends, seek emotional support and more. On the flip side, it can have severe negative impacts on our daily lives.

Multiple studies have found a connection between screen time and increased risks for depression and anxiety. This can be caused from negative experiences while using social media such as FOMO, inadequacy about life or appearance, self-absorption, and cyberbullying.

Social media is not bad. It only is when you do not keep face-to-face interactions and connections, because online connections are less emotionally satisfying. People who have high usage of social media but continue to keep their in-person connections and are highly social do not have the same depressive symptoms as other people.

In recent years, there has been an increase of “social media influencers.” These influencers are people who have built a reputation on social media and make regular posts that keep people engaged. Some influencers are YouTube star David Dobrik, TikTok creator Charlie D’Amelio, and makeup guru James Charles. The issue with influencers is that we only see the highlights and most exciting moments of their lives. We fail to recognize that not every moment of their life is a movie. 

Influencers may also be the cause of body image issues or feelings of inadequacy. Women have always compared themselves to others, whether it was beauty magazines or popular Instagram posts. We do not compare ourselves to the airbrushed and highly edited photos we see anymore, but the lifestyles these influencers are living. They may post their imperfections or bad days, but their lives still seem more exciting than ours. 

We have become an image-obsessed generation and feel inadequate if we have yet to reach our dreams at young ages. Many of us have developed a social media addiction without even realizing it. 

You may ask yourself, “how do I know my social media is affecting my mental health?” HelpGuide offers a few indicators that you may need to change your habits which include comparing yourself, spending more time online than with friends in person, being distracted, only posting for likes, and more. If you experience any of these, you may need to change your habits.

Our first instinct is to think “do I need to delete social media?” This is almost never feasible for people since it has become such a large portion of our lives, but there are a few other ways to help. This can be reducing your time online, spending more time with friends offline, practicing mindfulness, and more.

Social media will continue to be a big part of our lives. Just remember that while it may seem like the most important thing, your mental health is more important. Sometimes you just need to put your phone down and enjoy real life.

Featured image by Ace Walker.

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