Social Media - How Does It Affect Our Mental Health?
Written and reviewed by
MD - Psychiatry, MBBS
Being away or oblivious to social media is synonymous to not following the herd. Social media probably is no more the latest fad; it is the given code to take a deeper look into the present age. The rewarding fact about social networking sites is their ability to transport us to people and places millions of miles away from us. This epoch dictates of overproduction and maximum utilization of labor and snatches away the boon of communication.
Below mentioned points showcase how social media addiction negatively affects our mental health:
- Peer Pressure- Social media use also creates the fear of missing out because you want to do what everyone else is doing. This evokes anxiety and will give rise to negative feelings and emotions, which again create mental health problems and stress and anxiety disorders
- Fatigue and Stress- When you are using social media, you are constantly switching from one task to another because there is just so much to do and see. This information abundance can tire out your brain, especially when it is received chaotically. Your brain needs time and room for absorbing the data and processing the information, but multitasking on social media makes your brain work overtime. This can prevent it from relaxing and it will become exhausted as it tries to deal with the barrage of information. Hence, the fatigue puts your mind under a lot of stress and you may not be able to concentrate on anything at all.
- Social Anxiety- Even though the whole point of social media is to allow people to stay connected with others, it doesn’t have the same satisfaction and element associated with actual human interaction, which is a crucial human need. In fact, in some ways, it is too distant and this is not a good thing for those who become dependent on social media as it can lead to social anxiety. Those who are already suffering from this problem will find it even more difficult to indulge in face-to-face interaction. Real human interaction can become extremely scary for people as it is becoming common to hide behind your computer screens and not go out at all.
- Distraction- Social media is just tailor-made for decreasing our productivity because you spend hours looking at everyone else’s life when you could be doing something else. This means that most of your time is spent on viewing photos, liking posts, and writing comments and these activities don’t really require the use of your intellectual abilities. They aren’t intellectual at all and distract you from activities that are such as reading, studying informational articles on the internet, etc. Your brain doesn’t get enough food for development and your intellectual abilities can decline in this way. Your brain will slow down and not be able to respond quickly in various situations.
- Insecurity- One of the major problems with social media is that posts typically present an idealized version of what’s going on in everyone’s life. Usually, what you see isn’t actually reality because everyone has their problems and issues. Nevertheless, you end up comparing your own life with that of others and think less of your own. If people in your newsfeed seem to be having a good time, it will make you envious and affect your mood negatively. Research has shown that widespread use of social media can demotivate people, make them aggressive and cause a decline in confidence.
So are you being adversely affected by social media? Here are some signs to look out for:
- Low self-esteem.
- Feeling low when you see other people's images and lifestyle.
- Envy of others people lives - wishing your life was like someone else's.
- Finding social media as your first and only choice of activity done for enjoyment.
- Not having as many face to face conversations with your relatives and friends and feeling disconnected.
- Being unable to do anything without feeling you need to share it online. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
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