In today’s age, it’s not uncommon for us to like someone’s status on Facebook, voice an opinion in the form of a tweet on Twitter, or “heart” an aesthetically pleasing post on Instagram. These social media interactions have become such a big part of people’s everyday lives.
Many would probably find it difficult to imagine life without the social media. Many more would cringe at the idea of having to “disconnect” from any form of it, even for a day. It’s easy to see why.
These platforms allow us to keep in touch with those we might not be able to see all the time. They also give us more opportunities to meet with other people–be it for business or pleasure. And most importantly, they give us easy access to adorable animal photos and heartwarming real-life anecdotes.
On the flip side, however, the presence of social media also exposes us to less beneficial and sometimes troubling materials and influences. These not-so-friendly things may not be as harmless as many might think.
Given that many of us have grown so used to what social media has to offer, it’s important to ask: Do all those hours spent scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram actually have negative effects on a person’s mental state? Yes.
How can a website be bad for my mental health?
There are many ways social media platforms could be bad for a person’s mental health. Note, however, that it is not the website that is the cause for the worsening of a person’s mental state. It is the content of the website and its users that are the cause and not the website itself.
Cyberbullies and “trolls” are one of the many things that could worsen a person’s mental health while they are online. These people go out of their way to upset others and cause a ruckus in online communities. Cyberbullying and “trolling” are forms of online harassment that could prove detrimental to people who aren’t used to dealing with these kinds of bullies.
Aside from the more blatant harm caused by the cyberbullying, seeing specific images on these websites may be a factor. Finding pictures of your friends always out together may lead to feelings of jealousy.
The same goes for when you see pictures of celebrities living in luxury. Seeing pictures of these celebrities with a seemingly perfect body, life, and etc. may lead to unhealthy comparisons. Even after we’re told that these pictures may be unrealistic depictions of reality, we might still believe the unhealthy comparisons.
All these negative feelings–sadness, loneliness, inadequacy–may worsen if left unattended. And if left unattended, these feelings may develop into serious mental disorders–depression, and anxiety, among others. Read more about depression on BetterHelp’s advice section..
What can I do to prevent this?
- Know your time online. Limit the number of hours a day you will allow yourself to browse through social media sites. Make sure to stick with it.
- Get a hobby. Do less scrolling through social media and more of something new you’ve always wanted to try out. Try painting, writing, reading–anything other than keeping your eyes glued to that screen!
- Spend some time outside. Instead of just looking at the pictures of your friends and family, go out with them. Choose face-to-face interactions instead of ones over the internet. Put the phone and other electronic devices down for a while.
- Unplug. If the negative thoughts are beginning to overwhelm you, perhaps it’s time to deactivate your accounts. This doesn’t have to be permanent. You could come back after a few weeks or months. Until then, go about life with absolutely no use of social media. Take the time to calm down and get rid of all these negative thoughts at your own pace.