As a Media and Culture major, it’s a constant battle between wanting to go on social media and wanting to preserve my own mental health. Many people check Instagram and Facebook without even thinking about it! I know I’m guilty of this too. While social media can have some great aspects to it, it’s important to keep in mind how it can affect your mental health.
First, it’s important to understand social media demographics and how many people are actually using it. As of February 2021, the Pew Research Center reports that 84% of the 18-29 year old population use social media regularly. Compare this to 72% of the general population, (all ages) which is still a significant number. This number has been on the rise and will no doubt continue to rise in the future.
In a study by the National Center for Health Research, 45% of adolescents say they are “almost constantly” on their phones or online. Similarly, 44% say they’re online multiple times a day. That is almost 100% of adolescents!
This study also found that 25% of young adults aged 18-25 struggled with mental illness, which many attribute to the rise of social media. There is a correlation between time spent on social media and mental health symptoms, especially anxiety and depression. One of the reasons for this is people spend time on social media instead of sleeping, and lack of sleep can be a reason why mental health issues begin. Social media also causes “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out,” which leads people to believe they are missing out on an experience that someone else is posting. This can take a toll on mental health, especially in young adults.
Here are some tips when you feel overwhelmed by social media:
- Take breaks: Taking phone breaks (or at least, breaks from social media) can help you recharge. Try setting a timer on your phone, and when that timer goes off, take a five minute break from your phone.
- Time limit: Another way to take control of your mental health if it’s suffering from too much social media usage is to place your phone on a time limit for social media. If you have an iPhone, you can do this by going to your settings and setting a limit for certain apps. When you reach that limit, you will not be able to enter the app again unless you turn off the time limit. This can be a great way to help you get more time in the day too!
- Highlights: Remember that social media is only a “highlight reel.” In most cases, you’re only seeing the highlights and best parts of someone’s life, not their struggles.
- Journal: When feeling overwhelmed, regardless of the reason, journaling or writing out your feelings can help you sort through them.
- Reach out: If you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, please reach out to a qualified professional for help.
Remember, there are positives to social media! Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with those who live far away from you. However, it is important to be mindful of how much time you spend on social media and to assess your mental health when using social media. Have a great week, Rams!
Hally Everett is a fifth-year Media and Culture major with minors in Health Sciences and Entrepreneurship. HE885418@wcupa.edu