Social media can be a handy tool for keeping in touch with friends and family and staying up to date with what is going on worldwide. However, it is essential to be mindful of how much time you are spending there and how it can make you feel.
Spending too much time on social media can have few negative impacts on our mental well-being. It can cause uncertainty, stress, anxiety, depression and can leave us feeling isolated and alone. Finding a good balance is essential.
The negative effect of social media
As we mentioned, if misused, social media can cause a lot of harm to our mental health. However, different people react differently to social media; for some, just a couple of hours a day might significantly impact, whereas others may find social media not that harmful. It is all about knowing your limitation and making sure you do what is right for you.
Here are some of the most common adverse effects of social media:
- Fear of missing out
Everyone likes following social media trends and knowing what is happening around you and with your group of friends. However, it can cause what is known as FOMO, Fear of Missing Out.
FOMO is when a person feels isolated and left out by friends or family. A simple example would be when you scroll through social media and see that everyone is having a good time at a party you decided to miss out on; this results in you feeling distressed and worried about not being there.
People suffering from FoMO may come across as moody, tired, worried, and irritated often.
- Can cause isolation
Social media can fuel isolation massively. People with lower confidence or introverts who like to stay home, scrolling through social media, and seeing people meeting, connecting, and enjoying their social lives can result in them feeling even more alone and isolated. This can lead to lower self-confidence and motivation for individuals.
Unfortunately, due to the anonymity of social media, you may come across a negative comment. These negative comments can be very harmful, especially towards children, teenagers, and even adults. Cyberbullying can take many forms, including discriminatory behaviour, spreading false information, social exclusions, cyberstalking, and personal attacks.
- Distanced from real-life
Spending too much time on social media could mean that you are neglecting your real-life relationships. You may become more distanced from reality, which may be harmful when facing face-to-face interactions and social relationships.
- Negatively affect your mood and thought process
Social media gives out a lot of information that you will be processing. This may add to your current worries and stress, affecting your mood and even your thought process.
How do I know I am spending too much time on Social Media or affecting my mental well-being?
Ask yourself the following questions:- Are you spending more time on social media than with your family and friend in real life?
- Are you comparing yourself to others on social media?
- Are you distracted from everyday life and cannot prioritize everyday tasks due to social media?
- Are you always on edge regarding likes, comments, and other reactions you get for your posts?
- Lastly, are you often on the phone till late, or are you suffering from sleeping problems?
Tips to keep a healthy balance with social media
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are designed to distract and capture your attention. You may even find yourself checking your screen repeatedly, almost addicted to checking the latest feed.
Here are some of the most simple but effective ways to keep your social media consumption in check.
- Turn off your phone while you are doing essential tasks. When you are working, driving, in a meeting, working out, or having dinner, remember to turn off your phone or at least keep your phone in silence.
- Keeping your phone off-limits during these times will help you concentrate on essential tasks, and you will also be spending more time with people offline.
- Turning off your phone before going to bed can help you sleep better. Other options would be to leave your phone in another room or keep it on a night mode so no notification alert with wake or distract you. This will help you prioritise your sleep which is great for both your mental and physical health.
- Track your usage on social media. Most mobile phones now have free features or applications to track how much time you spend on certain apps. With these features, you can monitor how much time you spend and set goals for how much time you would like to reduce it.
Tip- Keep a weekly track of your social media usage and gradually reduce it by an hour each week.
- As daunting as it sounds, try removing social media apps from your phone and see how it impacts us. You may even not miss those apps, and sometimes this may encourage you to spend less time on your phone.
We hope these tips will help you limit your social media usage and find a healthy balance. Remember, if one or none of these tips work for you, that is entirely okay! Saying no to social media can be challenging, so make sure to take things slow and do things gradually.
Lastly, if you feel that your mental well-being is being affected negatively due to social media, please make sure to seek professional advice from your GP, or you can talk things through with one of our qualified therapists. Visit our service page to find out more.