Just like a majority of people today, I also use social media daily and scroll through more often than I probably should. With growing technology we can order just about anything online and know what our friends/family/perfect strangers are doing at any given moment. As overwhelming and perhaps ‘scary’ as this sounds and has proven to be at times, there are also great benefits of social media such as connecting with people, finding employment, convenience of buying products, paying bills, and much more. What if we thought about the way we could utilize social media to improve mental health? On the other hand, there are harmful effects to our mental health by utilizing social media, of course. Today, we are going to discuss both sides. The key point here is that using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, (WordPress), and other social media platforms is beneficial – we just have to be mindful of how to use them properly so we don’t jeopardize our mental stability and peace of mind.
Let’s start with the cons of social media in relation to mental health:
- Comparison – have you ever caught yourself scrolling through and staring at someone’s picture, wishing you had their body? How about seeing someone’s vacation pictures and getting upset because you know you don’t have the money to do the same thing? We are all guilty.
- Negativity – all the time, we see negativity and horrific news on social media. If we subject ourselves to violence, death, crime, and overall negative news, it’s bound to take a toll on our health as well as how we might perceive the world in the long run.
- False information – especially on Facebook (from my own experience) I see fake articles every day. We all have heard of ‘catfishing’ right? I’m sure a handful of you have a personal story about this, since it is so common in today’s age to portray someone else’s image and lifestyle which is also dangerous for the person’s picture and personal information they are actually posting about. This can lead to trust issues and self-doubt when reading something online.
- Cyberbullying – still a real thing. Every day a child, adolescent, or even adult is threatened over social media, falsely accused of something, or is being bullied. For obvious reasons that I don’t need to explain, this harms mental health drastically, even causing suicide rates to increase.
Let’s move on to the pros of using social media to benefit mental health:
- Support systems – by using social media, you can connect with family and friends who live over a distance and still include them in your life to utilize them as someone that can emotionally support you when you need it.
- Making appointments – today it is easier than ever to make appointments to make sure you visit your primary care Doctor, Psychiatrist, or Counselor with ‘online portals’ where you can login to make your next appointment or even email your treatment team.
- Connecting with communities – maybe the greatest benefit of social media for mental health is the fact that you can join groups on Facebook where there are members of people on that page only to do with that topic. For example, I am a part of several Mental Health Community Pages/groups on Facebook where people share their experiences and struggles. This helps bring awareness to mental health and reminds you that you are not alone!
- Researching new ideas – Instagram is my favorite platform to scroll through when I am trying to discover new aspects of mental health. It is a great outlet for resources, quotes, and other people to follow who have similar interests.
- Sparking creativity – if you are looking for some inspiration, scrolling through social media can definitely help! There are lots of good ideas to spin off of out there and if you are looking in the right places, you might find yourself becoming more creative in your own way.
So what do you do? How do we make social media useful for us and keep our minds healthy? First, stay away from negativity! Take the time to delete people on your social media pages who don’t serve you support, information, or positivity (my favorite thing to do is delete people who constantly post about politics). If you see an article or video that you know is going to harm your mental health, don’t open it and don’t read it – simply keep scrolling. Next and most importantly, utilize social media as a platform of exploration instead of somewhere to get affirmation from others. All too often we post pictures just to get a reaction from our peers or for them to reassure us that we are pretty and have our life together. Moral of the story: share content for the right reasons – post pictures because your family and friends haven’t seen you in a while, or because it’s a good platform to document memories that you can pull up and look at in the future. Use social media as a portal to discovery instead of a hole to dump opinions, fake news, and self-esteem into. It’s all about being more mindful and remembering the real reason we are using social media in the first place. What are your thoughts?
Page: Lifestyle and Nutrition