social media

Negative impacts of social media on mental health and how to cope with them?

This question has gained significance since a strong correlation was found between social media usage and mental illnesses in young adults. Social media is causing diverse impacts on mental ranging from inferiority complexes to depression and anxiety. How can a society close its eyes while the statistics show that about 59% of US teens experience cyberbullying or online harassment on social media platforms? Obviously, it is the right time first to accept and then to cope with the dilemma.

Negative impacts of social media on mental well-being:

Multiple studies have revealed a strong link between social media’s excessive use and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, loneliness, and mental stress. The main impacts of social media which cause these issues include,

  1. Fear of missing out (FOMO): It is a subtype of social anxiety in which an individual feels that other people are having more fun, enjoyment, and better lives than his. Consequently, he desires to be connected to what others are doing because he continually has the feeling that he is missing out on an interesting event happening somewhere else.
  2. Isolation instead of social inclusion: A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania has revealed that excessive use of social media causes feelings of isolation instead of inclusion. The primary mechanism behind this feeling is many virtual peers instead of actual real persons around. People avoid talking and sharing over social media as openly as they would in face-to-face meetings.
  3. Cyberbullying: About 40 % of US adults and 59 % of teens have experienced cyberbullying at least once on internet media. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram have become a source to defame people, spread rumors and lies. Resultantly, social media leave lasting impacts on mental well-being.

How do social media cause addiction?

Social media platforms are designed in a way that triggers the dopamine cycle. People tend to receive positive feedback from others through their posts or images. Then, they feel satisfied and happy from this feedbacks. Resultantly, their dopamine levels increase. However, when their dopamine levels are low, they tend to pick up the phone and post new images or statuses to get positive comments from people again.  There is substantial data that this type of dopamine fluctuation can easily cause addiction.

How can we tackle this issue?

This issue can be contained by following measures:

  • Monitor own behavior about its use.
  • Distract yourself from social media slowly.
  • Limit social media use to a maximum of 30 minutes a day.
  • Do not activate push notifications for social media apps.
  • Maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
  • Completely avoid using social media on the bed.
  • Encourage exercise and offline activities.
  • Establish and maintain a social circle in your surroundings.
  • Report any event related to cyberbullying to concerned authorities.
  • Avoid comparing yourself with others and promote self-reflection and self-care.

When to seek help from a mental health professional?

You should seek immediate consultation with a mental health professional if

  • You are experiencing an uncontrollable urge to use social media.
  • You are feeling a constant lack of concentration for the last two weeks
  • You have decreased sleep or disturbed sleep cycle for the last two weeks.
  • Your daily living activities are being compromised by social media.
  • You have self-harm feelings due to any cause, such as cyberbullying or comparing yourself with others.

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