With social media becoming a core aspect of most people’s lives, its excessive use has been linked with negative effects on our mental health. While social media platforms can be great ways to connect with others, their adverse effects on mental health are often brushed away. Here are some ways that social media is making it difficult to prioritize mental health.
Many users use social media to post dangerously unrealistic photos that have been manipulated using special effects and filters. This may trigger feelings of self-doubt and anxiety for those who feel insecure about their physical appearance. Constantly comparing oneself to others on social media can certainly cause self-esteem and mental health issues given the unattainable beauty standards being portrayed nowadays. In that case, taking some time off social media to focus on yourself may be a good idea.
Similarly, social media can sometimes cause fear of missing out (FOMO) when seeing photos of friends enjoying themselves without you. This can spark feelings of envy towards others who are only showcasing the highlights of their lives while leaving out the low points.
Reduced attention span
While there is an almost infinite amount of information that is accessible to all thanks to social media, people are also suffering from reduced attention spans. Social media platforms have made entertainment available in short bursts that require little to no concentration or focus from their users. As such, scrolling through social media apps such as Instagram or TikTok has been linked with reduced attention spans.
Loneliness and Social Isolation
Several studies have found that having many social media friends does not necessarily replace real-life interactions. Having a real social life outside of social media is key for establishing strong connections and building lasting bonds with friends. In fact, social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation and loneliness. A study by the University of Pittsburgh found that teens who use social media heavily are 3 times as likely to feel socially isolated. With people relying more on virtual interactions and less on in-person interactions, problems like social anxiety and depression have become more common among social media users.
Social media platforms offer a convenient way to keep up with friends and reconnect when used in moderation. However, excessive use of social media can be incredibly taxing on mental health, especially among teens and young adults.