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Is Social Media Healthy?

Social media is informative yet irrelevant, distracting yet calming, toxic yet harmless. As we know, social media can be both beneficial and harmful. However, how you use your social media can have a direct impact on your wellbeing.

In today’s blog, we will be discussing the effect social media may have on you as well as different techniques to overcome the negative impact it might have in your everyday life.

Pros

  • Staying in touch with friends
  • Positive mentors/influencers
  • Feel supported with certain struggles

Cons

  • Addictive
  • Impacts mood
  • Lowers self-esteem
  • Lowers productivity
  • Affects physical exercise
  • Mask anxiety
  • Enhances insecurities

Benefits of Social Media

Although there aren’t as many pros as cons, there are still benefits from using social media. A benefit that we can all agree on is maintaining contact with people you care about without having to go out of your way for each person.

Another valuable reason for using social media is to follow positive and motivational influencers to gain ideas and maintain a positive feed for dull days. 1Lastly, social media has accounts that share their mental health struggles, concerns, and awareness to express to others that they are not alone. These types of accounts share resources that allow you to feel as if you are ‘one’ with a larger community. Given these advantages to social media, there is still a darker side.

Recently, I was listening to my favorite podcast, The Art of Charm2, where Jordan Harbinger interviews Russell Brand about his new book, Recovery; Freedom from our Addictions. In this interview, Russell Brand talks about social media addictions stating, “If you say I’m only going to use social media for half an hour a day … and if you try and do it and you can’t, well there you go, you’ve learned something about yourself, you aren’t capable of keeping it until half an hour so that tells you, you’re not in control of it anymore.” Russell Brand explains the main reason as to why social media is not healthy. It can become addictive and begin to control you.

As the social media begins to control you, it impacts your day-to-day living such as: your mood changes, insecurities increase, and your self-esteem and productivity decreases. For instance, remember the last time you woke up and while you are in bed you check your social media, there is Becky again – traveling in Europe, taking the most adorable pictures with elephants and instantly the thought of, “Ugh, I need to go to school/work now” hits. It’s not about jealousy, it begins to be about having less appreciation of who and where you are in comparison to others, correction: what others like to share. But let’s not go there, that’s another article in itself.

How do you control your social media use?

So now the question is, how do you control your social media use? Just as the example Russell Brand shared, you want to test yourself. Set a goal and try to meet it. If you fail, that’s okay – try again, and again, and again. Have fun with it! Ask a friend to join you in the challenge and have a reward (hint: there can be more than one winner!). But keep in mind that everyone’s goal will be different depending on their lifestyle and free time.

If you are noticing that social media is having a negative impact on your life then trying these techniques may improve your well-being:

Delete social media apps

  • If the app is not easily accessible, you will be less likely to login on a desktop unless you absolutely have the free time to check social media.

Download alternative apps

  • A habit has been created and even though it would be nice to cut social media cold turkey, you will find yourself searching for things to do on your phone. Therefore, replacing social media apps with useful and productive apps will alleviate the tendency to fall back into not-so-good habits. Some examples of applications are: Crossword, Elevate, Headspace, and Lumosity.

Spring cleaning

  • Just as you would with your closet, you want to take the time and review who you are following and ask yourself, “does this follower … make me happy, brings me joy, or benefit me in any way?” If the answer is no to any of these then delete or unfollow! The follower has the right to post anything and you definitely have the right to unfollow.

Sources:

1 Hinduja, S. (2016, September 29) . How Social Media Helps Teens Cope with Anxiety, Depression, and Self Harm. https://cyberbullying.org/how-social-media-helps-teens-cope-anxiety-depression-self-harm

2 Harbinger, J. (2017) The Art of Charm: Episode 659. https://theartofcharm.com/podcast-episodes/russell-brand-freedom-from-our-addictions-episode-659/

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