8 Ways Social Media Negatively Affects Mental Health
Let’s face it; in a world where social media hits us in the face with the latest job promotions, home purchases, births, engagements, vacations, and even breakups you can get overwhelmed and sucked into a vortex of jealousy, competitiveness, and depression before you even realize it.
Current day society is data hungry; it devours tidbits of news on people we know well and even unfairly gives us a glimpse into the lives of those we don’t know well. It’s easy to get caught up in the image of a person or life that social media presents, and leads to envy, rejections, and subconscious comparisons with our “friends”.
Social media depression, a phenomenon characterized by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as the psychological impact that social media websites—such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as gaming sites with virtual worlds, YouTube, and online communities—that cause depression and self-esteem issues in people with underlying risk of mental health issues.
Here are eight cues that you might lead to social media depression…
1. Productivity Drain
You have to admit it; while social media might help us connect more easily throughout a day it also diverts our attention and hampers productivity. The brain has difficulty focusing attention on more than one task at a time, which means if you’re working as you watch YouTube videos you’re really putting your work quality and accuracy at risk, draining your overall productivity.
2. Distracts from Real Life
Social media focuses on rather trivial things—such as what your buddy ate last night for dinner or your sister’s cat in a dress. Sure, it’s amusing stuff, but it’s not life-changing. Few are the true momentous events, like the engagements, births, and graduations that social media shares among “friends”. Because of this it can be argued that the time you spend on social media distracts you from being present in your own real life.
3. Creates Social Phobias
Liking a friend’s status update on Facebook is not the same as picking up the phone, or better, going for a coffee, to catch up on her life. However, after connecting and wishing “happy birthday” to 40 or more “friends” on Facebook you can feel pretty drained and hesitant about real, in-person conversation, which, when positive, can positively alter the brain’s chemistry.
4. Creates Feelings of Inadequacy
You log on to Facebook and in one sitting, you can hear about a dozen promotions, births, marriages, and lottery winnings within seconds. It’s enough good news to have you constantly measuring yourself against it and feeling inadequate because of it—even if it’s a bit exaggerated. Remember, people often share ideal representations of themselves.
5. Fosters Fears of Missing Out
And it’s an actual phenomenon named Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO), which keeps you glued to social networks for fear of missing out on something important—such as a birthday party, social outing, or concert that you just can’t miss!
6. Promotes Inactivity
If you spend all of your free time on social networks, not only will you be unproductive, you’ll be inactive as well. That’s why it’s important for your body and mind to break away from your social networks to get some physical exercise. This increase of endorphins and blood flow to the brain will keep you healthy—mentally and physically.
7. Makes Us Unable to Be Alone
In your world of social networks there’s always someone to complain too, seek solace with, or gain empathy from when you’ve had a bad day. When you’re always surrounded by friends online; it’s difficult to be truly alone without them. Many who are addicted to social networking find they’re suddenly unable to be alone or enjoy their own company.
8. Exacerbates Unhappiness
We’ve established that the act of using social media can stir up many emotions, and using it too excessively can create a detachment from real life. Whether those prone to depression are drawn to social media or vice versa, numerous medical studies indicate that social media may exacerbate your major emotions—including unhappiness, depression, and sadness.
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