Social media is a place where people can share their life moments, talents, and expertise. It has become a powerful tool that connects people. However, with the rise in social media-related violence and suicides, many experts are asking, do the negative effects of social media on mental health outweigh the benefits? The answer is complicated.
Social Media is a Double-Edged Sword
Social media has changed the way we communicate, connect and interact with people. It’s also a social platform where users can create their own identities and share information about themselves. including personal details, interests, hobbies, life experiences, and more. It gives users an opportunity to have an active online presence and friendships. However, there are several negative effects associated with using social media excessively, especially in teens and young adults, such as:
- Lower self-esteem
- Addiction issues
- Physical health problems
Social media has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” linked to pleasurable activities. The most common issues users, especially young people, face include depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, body image and eating disorders, and low self-esteem. Those who used social media more frequently report less satisfaction with their life overall and lower levels of personal well-being than those who use it less often.
How to Combat the Negative Effects of Social Media
Social media is a huge part of our lives now, but it can cause some serious issues. Teenagers are especially vulnerable. They’re just starting to figure out who they are as individuals and are also trying to find their place in the world. Social media makes this process more difficult because it shows people the highlight reels of other people’s lives. We see skewed pictures of bodies, relationships, social skills, and communication styles that don’t match up with reality
The effects of social media on mental health are still being researched by experts around the world; however, if you experience any lasting negative effects from your online activities or interactions with others on these sites, there are several ways to cope with them:
- Set Limits
You may be using social media more often than you realize. Consider tracking your usage and taking a realistic look at how you can decrease your daily use if you feel social media is negatively affecting you. You may also want to look into some online tools developed specifically for managing digital distractions.
- Set an Example
Adults who use social media influence their children who have access to social media. They also influence other adults around them like spouses, friends, and family members. Controlling your own usage could help others around you collectively decrease theirs as well.
- Practice Being Present
Your day-to-day ability to be mindful about how you spend your time without social media can be improved by meditation and intentional focus. We can help ourselves and our families disconnect from social media by increasing the amount of face-to-face communication we all get. Have a family game night, or dinner around the table with no devices or screens allowed. Take a vacation or day trip somewhere that has no cell service or internet access. The more present we are in reality, the less of a hold social media will have on us.
- Support is Available
If you or a family member is experiencing chronic negative impacts from social media, there are resources available to help. Research programs within your community that may offer support. If you are looking for a therapeutic or clinical approach, the team of practitioners at Hudson Psychiatric Associates offers a variety of treatment options for individuals to address any of the impacts listed above. Contact our qualified doctors and therapists at Hudson Psychiatric Associates to learn more.