It wasn’t all that long ago that people had never ever heard the term “social media,” but now it’s how many of us spend our free time, connect with other people, and get our news. It has been estimated that nearly three billion people around the world use social media, and it’s safe to say this popular online activity is here to stay for a while.
However, it is also important to understand how social media can affect your health and how to find a balance between the real world and the online world. Here are some observations and words of advice to consider.
Mental Health Effects of Social Media
There are lots of ways that spending time on social media affects your mental and emotional health, regardless whether you are a teenager, elderly adult, or anyone in between. Many people feel more anxious and stressed out when they are on social media all day because they’re being bombarded with information and can’t effectively process it all. Real emotional connections become strained with increased social media use when online interactions replace physical ones with people you care about.
Many people find themselves comparing themselves to others unfairly due to social media, which can lead to depression and unhealthy habits. Social media also lends itself well to online bullying because of the anonymity factor and how easy it is to be cruel when you’re not face-to-face with someone.
Physical Health Effects of Social Media
Although the most talked-about effects of social media are on the brain and moods, spending a lot of time scrolling through your social feed can also impact your physical health. For example, you might experience eye strain and increased headaches due to staring at a screen for many hours per day.
Social media obsession can lead to fatigue from staying up all night reading posts and a lack of exercise if you’d rather be scrolling down than getting outside. Also, you might put your safety at risk and be more prone to accidents if you use social media while walking, biking, or driving.
Positive Aspects of Social Media
But despite all of these negative effects, there is still a lot of good that can come from using social media. It has an unprecedented way of connecting people who don’t live near each other and helping friends and relatives stay in touch. When used in a positive way, social media can also be a platform for encouragement and help friends lose weight, quit smoking, or get more active.
For some people who use social media moderately, it is a way to relax and unwind at the end of the day and get a bit of mindless relief from the stresses of the real world. Social change and nonprofit support can be made possible through social media. Meanwhile, platforms are becoming easier to use for senior citizens who might face isolation without a virtual source of contact.
Creating Healthy Social Media Habits
Like so many things in this world, achieving natural health and wellness comes down to balance and moderation. Social media itself it not inherently good or bad; it’s how you use it that impacts how you feel throughout the day, both mentally and physically.
Here are some tips for creating a better relationship with social media so you can enjoy more of its benefits and fewer of its downsides:
- Set usage limits each day (apps help you track this)
- Engage on social medial with a purpose
- Don’t compare yourself to others
- Think carefully before you post something in an emotional state
- Understand that social media only represents a tiny snapshot of people’s real lives
- Never scroll through social media before bed and expect a good night’s sleep