Does social media influence mental health?

07 Feb 2020

Social media is great. It gives you the chance to connect with those all over the world. You can share photos with friends and family members alike, all at the click of a button. Social media is something you can scroll through whilst waiting for a train, during a few minutes of downtime or whilst relaxing in front of the TV. However, it can also be utilised as a business, used to sell products, advertise and boost influencers. There’s no doubt social media has a massive impact on our lives and has many positive benefits, but does social media influence mental health?

Self-esteem

Many social platforms that started as a novelty, have now become essential in our daily lives. As well as posting content, many people obsess over the likes, views and comments that they receive. Comparison between themselves and others is rife, as it becomes a competition. Young people are at particular risk for suffering from mental health issues due to social media. Self-esteem can be severely affected when you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. Checking the increasing likes and comments can produce dopamine in the brain, giving the user instant pleasure. This encourages the user to constantly check socials and it becomes a vicious circle.

Sleep

Sleep is directly correlated with mental health. The blue lights on phones, laptops and TVs can seriously disrupt a person’s sleep. Staring at a screen for hours can suppress the release of melatonin which helps us feel tired. Then when a person settles down to sleep, they may not be able to drift off. Additionally, the anxiety and worry that social media can create may disturb users from getting a good night’s rest.

False perception

Taking a few snaps on holiday or at a festival is a great way to remember the good times you have. The issue with social media is that a person may become so obsessed with getting the perfect photos to post that they lose the moment they are in. Many people can relate to posting a photo on Facebook or Instagram, which suggest you’re having a great time, when in reality that wasn’t the case. Because of this, many people have a warped sense of reality when it comes to their own lives. Users look at someone else’s life and assume it’s perfect and that they’re always out having fun, when in reality this isn’t true.

How can I help myself?

Social media can have a positive and negative impact on your life. We have some tips on using social media in a healthy way.

Limit yourself

The majority of phones have technology to show you how much your screen time is. From here you can see exactly what you’re using and how often, so you can limzit yourself. Try turning notifications off so you aren’t tempted to check them. When with loved ones, make a commitment that you won’t check your phone. Not only will this help to keep you off social media, but it means they get your full attention. Only having a limited time on social platforms can have a range of benefits, click here to find out more.

Organise your socials

If you’ve been using social platforms for a while, chances are you have unwanted friends and accounts you follow. Get organised and ensure you are only seeing the content you like which benefits you. This is a simple way to improve how you consume social content.

Detox

Having a detox from time to time is a great way to reassess how you use social media. Delete the apps themselves and your account will remain, it will just prevent you from clicking on them absentmindedly. Think of another activity you could do instead of scrolling through your social platforms. If you have to wait for a train, ensure you have a book with you or perhaps a crossword puzzle. Fully engage with people instead of using your phone in the background. Decide how long your detox will last and stick to it.

Social media can affect your mental health but it is something that can be controlled so that it can be enjoyed in small doses.

References

Sharma, V. 2018, 7 Ways That Social Media is Affecting Us Positively, Curatti, Accessed 9 December 2019, <https://curatti.com/social-media-positive-effects/>

Harvey-Jenner, C. 2017, The psychology of a like: How social media is really affecting your brain, Cosmopolitan, Accessed 9 December 2019, <https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/reports/a9931660/psychology-social-media-likes-mental-health-issues/>

Child Mind Institute, Social Media and Self-Doubt, Child Mind Institute, Accessed 9 December 2019, < https://childmind.org/article/social-media-and-self-doubt/>

Mental Health Foundation, Sleep, Mental Health Foundation, Accessed 9 December 2019, <https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/sleep>

Harvard Medical School 2018, Blue light has a dark side, Harvard Health Publishing, Accessed 9 December 2019, <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side>

Very Well Mind 2020, Social Media and Social Anxiety Disorder, Very Well Mind, Accessed 20 Jan 2020, <https://www.verywellmind.com/social-network-use-and-social-anxiety-disorder-4117143>

The Motion Machine, How Social Media Creates FOMO and Why You Should Minimize Your Time on the Internet, The Motion Machine, <https://www.theemotionmachine.com/how-social-media-creates-fomo-and-why-you-should-minimize-your-time-on-the-internet/>

Chua, J., 5 Benefits of Limiting Social Media Usage, No Sidebar, Accessed 9 December 2019, <https://nosidebar.com/limiting-social-media/>

Chavez, H. 2018, 9 Positive Benefits of a Social Media Detox, Lifehack, Accessed 9 December 2019, <https://www.lifehack.org/483829/9-positive-benefits-of-a-social-media-detox>

 

Written by Kat Baker, Digital Marketing Assistant.

This blog was not written by a qualified mental health nurse. For more information please view the references.