Social media platforms are a key part to anyone’s day, but do we often think to realise how using these platforms daily can affect our mental health?

Being a part of the social media community is normality now, pretty much everyone uses it. It’s all about posting pictures, communicating, liking, sharing and commenting. But it can definitely become a long term addiction and can lead to many problems. As good as it is to keep everyone updated with what we’re doing in life or communicating with friends and family. We don’t see how much time and effort we put into something on a screen. It’s about focusing on what’s going on in real life and not the one social media controls. Coming to the realisation of the fact we’re so glued to our phones that we don’t acknowledge the people around us and focus on the important things, rather than how many likes you got on Facebook. 

Here are a few ways in which social media can affect mental health negatively:

Self-esteem

We all have insecurities, whether its something small or something that can really affect the way we look at our bodies. In order to love ourselves more and be happy with who we’re, our self-esteem needs positivity, but how is it supposed to get that, when we’re constantly thinking we have to be like every model on Instagram?

There is a lot of time that goes into our lives to focus on the different social media sites, whilst we’re constantly scrolling through these ‘aesthetically pleasing’ photos, it should be a nudge to yourself to put the phone down and if there’s something you don’t like about your body, to change it, or just love yourself for who you’re. There’s many ways you can learn to love yourself more and boost your self-esteem https://www.counsellorwhocares.co.uk/6-ways-that-will-make-your-body-appreciate-you-more/.

Staring at an Instagram photo or looking at someone’s status’ is going to make you feel a lot worse and that can impact your mental health by constantly thinking negative thoughts about yourself and thinking you’re not good enough, which will then lead to depression because you’re feeling so negatively about yourself and no matter how much everyone tries to tell you, you look amazing, you won’t listen. But the worst part is, is even when we get this low about ourselves, we will still continue to scroll through those pictures.

Connection issues

The sad truth is, we’re so glued to a screen that we can sometimes forget what’s happening around us. It ends up being a case of the fact we’re so hooked on everyone’s social media lives that we stop caring about real life. It can be so easy to focus on something that’s right in front of you for hours on end. The harsh reality is that sometimes you will sit and stare at a screen and everything going on around you begins to fade away.

For example, sitting down with your family for a movie night, roughly a few minutes into the film, the phones will be out and it can get to the point you’re trying to talk but no one is listening, because they’re so focused on what’s going on on  their phones. Or writing ‘Happy Birthday’ on someone’s wall, because you’ve said it online, it doesn’t mean you have to say it to them face to face. Going out with friends, you can all be chatting and then next minute something happens on social media and that’s where your conversations for the next few hours come from. Why can’t we have movie nights with family and not feel like we have to be connected to the web every second, or go out with friends and have a conversation about real life, not something that just sparked up on social media.

Sleep deprivation

Many of us decide to use our phones before going to bed, which can interrupt valuable hours of sleep. It could be that you’re kept up by what’s happening on social media you don’t get the recommended amount of sleep for your age. If you leave your phone on and have the WiFi turned on, then you will be persuaded to check it no matter what time. Sleep loss can impact on depression, anxiety, over eating and moodiness.

A British study published in the ‘Journal of Youth studies’ surveyed 900 teens between the ages of 12 to 15 about their social media use and the impact on their sleep. What they found was that one-fifth of the teens said they “almost always” wake up during the night and log in to social media. In addition to reporting feeling tired all the time, they also reported being less happy on average than teens whose sleep was not disturbed by social media.

Social media won’t just impact sleep negatively but it will impact the physical health of the individual. Not getting enough sleep can affect the immune system, which means it could be a lot easier to get ill. By constantly checking your phone through the night, or going on it for hours before you go to bed, is no good for you. Which comes to the solution, of turning your WiFi off at night, not checking your phone before you sleep, perhaps check it an hour or so before, just disconnect from the internet before you go to sleep to benefit from all the positive impacts sleep gives to us.

Depression and Cyber bullying

This is one of the main causes for concern when talking about addiction to social media. Depression can affect us in so many ways. The term ‘Cyber bullying’ is talked about a lot in this generation, which relates to depression. Cyber bullying can take place anywhere on the internet, but social media sparks up a lot of bullying. Whether it’s through fake profiles, someone saw something they did not like or an ‘indecent’ picture was posted.

This particular type of bullying happens on an online forum. It has been talked about that ‘Ask.fm’ was a big social media platform that caused the most suicides. If you do not know what Ask.fm is it’s a site that does Q&As, you can ask anyone literally anything, but you can do it anonymously.

National Institutes of Health has come to the realisation that victims of cyber bullying are more vulnerable to depression than those who are victims of school bullying. Cyber bullying involves behaviours that are communicated over electronic devices, computers, mobile phone etc. This is on the rise.

The constant hateful comments that are sent through social media can make the individual feel awful about themselves and they can then get links to depression and all sorts of mental health issues. Depression can lead to sadness, loneliness, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in pretty much anything, changes in eating patterns, extreme fatigue, sleep disturbance, suicide attempts, thoughts of death or suicide, physical pain. From these symptoms it is clear to see that cyber bullying or focusing to much on someone’s ‘perfect’ life on social media can lead to depression.

Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Do you get anxious when you check your social media? This is actually a disorder. It is a mental health condition that is fairly similar to social anxiety disorder.

The more technology we use, the more stressed we become. The people who have social media accounts, tend to get stressed and anxious when they’re not able to check their notifications. However, if you have social media anxiety disorder just being away from these platforms for a few minutes can cause severe anxiety.

Common symptoms of this disorder: 

 

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Focusing on checking social media more then work etc
  • Spending at least ten hours a day on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • Severe nervousness or anxiety if you’re unable to check your notifications.

There are plenty of risks of over using social media and how they impact you mentally and physically. Spending far to much time online can cause neck pain, eye strain, back problems. Eye strain can then lead to migraines. It’s very likely that you will sit down whilst checking social media for long periods of time, which can then lead to you being ‘sedentary’ which can have impacts on your health and not exercising enough due to perhaps concentrating on checking social media to much.

To much social media usage can cause depression, impulsive disorder, paranoia and loneliness. Comparing your lifes constantly to others, will always leave you with the feeling of ‘paranoia’ because you don’t think your life’s good enough and constantly feeling like you’re not worthy.

Just realise they have a normal life like you, did it ever come to your realisation, that we only post the good stuff on Facebook? If you feel rubbish about something in your life, don’t just stare at others wishing you lived their life, make a difference and enjoy your life, the real life, not the one over the internet.

I took to a group on Facebook to ask about the negative impacts of social media on mental health:

David James McKenzie: ”negatively.. people with mental health see all these posts going up about people being happy being able to go out etc and they feel like they are stuck in a hole with no ladder to climb out of. The new generation of people don’t stop to think about the moment they think about how many likes their going to get on Instagram.

 

Neil Robson: ”Social media disorder can become a very real issue for people, I’ve noticed a real rise in numbers of people with this type of issue.”

 

Tina Saunders: ”It can be negative because of bullying and you compare your life to others always looking at social media instead of concentrating on things that matter.

From this it is clear to see that there are a lot of negative impacts when using social media. But there are in fact healthier ways you can use it that will make you feel happier, without it becoming to much of an addiction and causing problems. These include:

  • Schedule social media time
  • Communicate with your friends or family by not just using your phone, go out and see them
  • Remove the apps from your phone, so you’re not tempted to much to log in all the time
  • Think before you post
  • Don’t give satisfaction to the people who think they know ‘better’
  • Stop comparing yourself to others!
  • Don’t use your phone before you sleep!

If you feel like you suffer with an extreme addition to social media or anything that has been discussed above, definitely reach out and get help, do not suffer alone.

A follow up on this will be posted in the next few days that will discuss the positive impacts…

https://www.counsellorwhocares.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/BeckyCares/

 Student Journalist.