6 ways to protect your mental health from social media’s dangers
May 28, 2019
More than one-third of adults view social media as harmful to their mental health, according to a new survey from the American Psychiatric Association. Just 5% view social media as being positive for their mental health, the survey found. Another 45% say it has both positive and negative effects.
Two-thirds of the survey’s respondents believe that social media usage is related to social isolation and loneliness. There is a strong body of research linking social media use with depression. Other studies have linked it to envy, lower self-esteem and social anxiety.
A psychologist who has studied the perils of online interactions and has observed the effects of social media (mis
1. Limit when and where you use social media
Using social media can interrupt and interfere with in-person communications. You’ll connect better with people in your life if you have certain times each day when your social media notifications are off – or your phone is even in airplane mode. Commit to not checking social media during meals with family and friends, and when playing with children or talking with a partner. Make sure social media doesn’t interfere with work, distracting you from demanding projects and conversations with colleagues. In particular, don’t keep your phone or computer in the bedroom – it disrupts your sleep.
2. Have ‘detox’ periods
Schedule regular multi-day breaks from social media. Several studies have shown that even a five-day or
3. Pay attention to what you do and how you feel
Experiment with using your favorite online platforms at different times of day and for varying lengths of time, to see how you feel during and after each session. You may find that a few short spurts help you feel better than spending 45 minutes exhaustively scrolling through a site’s feed. And if you find that going down a Facebook rabbit hole at midnight routinely leaves you depleted and feeling bad about yourself, eliminate Facebook after 10 p.m. Also note that people who use social media passively, just browsing and consuming others’ posts, feel worse than people who participate actively, posting their own material and engaging with others online. Whenever possible, focus your online interactions on people you also know offline.
4. Approach social media mindfully; ask ‘why?’
If you look at
Over time, you have likely accumulated many online friends and contacts, as well as people and organizations you follow. Some content is still interesting to you, but much of it might be boring, annoying, infuriating or worse. Now is the time to
6. Stop social media from replacing real life
Tweeting with a colleague can be engaging and fun, but make sure those interactions don’t become a substitute for talking face to face. When used thoughtfully and deliberately, social media can be a useful addition to your life, but only a flesh-and-blood person sitting across from you can fulfill the basic human need for connection and belonging.