Social Media Influences Mental Health
Mindlessly scrolling through our social media feeds when we have a few spare minutes is not the best habit when it comes to our collective psychology. The American Academy of Pediatrics has evaluated the potential for negative effects of social media in young kids and teens, including cyber-bullying and “Facebook depression,” but the issue impacts adults as well.
There’s some good evidence that internet addiction may exist. A recent review of earlier research on the psychological characteristics, personality and social media use and found that it is plausible to speak about “Facebook Addiction Disorder” because it encompasses addictive behaviors such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, and concealing the addictive behavior among those who use social media excessively. Studies have confirmed that people can also experience small but measurable physiological effects similar to withdrawal.
The more we use social media, the less happy we seem to be. Social media triggers more sadness, less well-being and life satisfaction. Another study found that social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. Users of 11 social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat and Reddit, experienced a correlation between the amount of use and perceived social isolation.
All this evidence does not mean that there’s no benefit to social media. It keeps us connected across great distances, and helps us find people we’ve lost touch with. Getting on social when you have some time to kill, or, worse, need an emotional lift, is likely a bad idea and, taking a break from Facebook can help boost psychological well-being when you’re down. The bottom line for using social media is, as in all things related to well-being, use it in moderation.
It’s important to remember that mental health is as important as physical health. You can strengthen your mental health by creating effective coping mechanisms. If you or someone you know is not coping well, is having suicidal thoughts or other symptoms, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.