Here’s What You Should Know
There’s no denying that we live in a very plugged-in world. These days, many young children practically come into the world with a smartphone in hand. However, while there are certainly benefits to the technological advancements we have made, such as the option for virtual therapy, there are also downsides. So let’s look at social media, how it can affect our mental health, and what we can do about it.
Addictive and Validating
You’ve probably been caught in a “scroll hole” before, whether it be Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, or another social media platform. It’s easy to keep scrolling to pass the time. Social media is designed to be addictive, as it releases dopamine in the brain, a chemical that makes you feel good. This dopamine release can lead to continually using social media to achieve the same feeling repeatedly.
In particular, people may feel addicted to the feeling of social acceptance. Likes and comments on platforms such as Instagram can be reaffirming to us. It causes us to feel a sense of worthiness and validation. If people like our tweets or photos, we must be doing something right. This, however, is not the healthiest mindset to have. Unfortunately, excessive use of social media can lead to mental health struggles such as anxiety and depression and can even cause impacts to physical health too.
Just as social media can be validating, it can also be harmful. It’s easy to view someone’s account and wonder why their post got more likes than yours or why their life seems more fun. In a way, social media has become a way to prove that your life is better than everyone else’s, which isn’t how we should be living.
Beyond that, interacting with others through social media can make us feel less need for in-person communication. Social platforms provide instant gratification and may cause us to believe we are fulfilling our social interaction needs.
What You Can Do
So what is the solution? You don’t have to go off the grid or delete all of your profiles, but try to be more mindful of your feelings while using these platforms and decrease your screen time. You can start by setting aside a particular block of time each day when you can unplug. Try walking, stretching, reading a book, or talking to a friend. There are many ways to enjoy ourselves and others without needing the internet.
In addition, remember that social media is not reality. In one way or another, people are likely curating their accounts to give off a particular aesthetic. Whatever the case, social media is not real life, and likes don’t say anything about your worth.
Speaking with a therapist can also be a beneficial way to work on changing your habits. A mental health provider can give you individualized advice and work with you on decreasing excessive social media use. If social media has impacted your mental health, contact us at The Collective!