How Does Social Media Addiction Hurt Psychological Health?
During the last decade, we have seen a huge increase in social media users. While there are several benefits offered by social media, the list of disadvantages is equally long. To be more precise, social media is just a tool and its positive/negative impact is determined by the way we use it. Many people use social media in an unhealthy way and it can lead to various psychological issues like chronic worry, stress, and depression. In this article we will discuss the topic in detail:
The positive side of social media
There is a wide gap between the benefits of face-to-face personal meeting and social media interaction with the former being much more effective than the latter. That said, social media interaction can still play a positive role provided that you use it responsibly.
· Keep yourself updated and connected with your family members, friends, and colleagues across different parts of the globe
· Networking with like-minded people with whom you can share your thoughts, interests or just enjoy light-hearted communication.
· Reaffirming your identity in a better way by connecting with ideal social causes
· Learn new things and widen your areas of perspectives
· Offering or getting moral support
· Enjoy a better social connection even despite social, political, or geographical barriers that make physical communication difficult
· Express yourself freely and creatively that promises healthy mental growth
How social media can negatively affects psychology?
In the past and ongoing research on social media’s impact on mental health it has been found that overuse or irresponsible use of social media can increase probabilities of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and depression.
Leads to unhealthy comparisons
Updating profiles on social media is a trend among the users and it can lead to unhealthy comparisons. Especially if you are going through ebb, the positive updates about your social media are acquainted and make you feel even more disappointed. It also promotes the feeling of jealousy and makes you envious. Gradually you feel overpowered by these negative feelings and it ultimately leaves a long term negative impact on your mental health and may invite various psychological issues as well.
Creates Fear Of Missing Out
Another major negative consequence of social media is FOMO or the fear of missing. This fear makes you feel unsecured about your personal and professional lives and prevent you from enjoying your life to the fullest. Looking at the impressive smiling photos and positive posts highlighting the achievements of various people, especially old friends and colleagues can lower down your self-confidence and you start devaluing yourself. Eventually, it affects the overall life quality by disturbing your mental peace. Besides, it may also lead to or worsen compulsive disorder in people by forcing you to frequently check the latest updates and alerts, responding to the messages, or commenting even on irrelevant or generic posts.
Causes and worsens the feeling of isolation
A very high and random usage of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter can also worsen the feeling of isolation. It may be because of being cut off from the real world or spending a long time communicating with the people in the remote corners of the world rather than enjoying real-life communication with your neighbor next door or spending a day out with your family. By steadily reducing social media use you can have more free time to spend with your real-life acquaintances that will enrich your life quality and improve your psychological health profile.
Negative impact in the long term
During depression people are often not able to differentiate between the healthy and unhealthy ways to overcome it. While the former work at a deeper level and offers slow but sustainable results the latter offer instant but short-lived relief which worsens the situation in the long run. Social media addiction is one such way that seems an easily accessible way to get an instant feel-good factor but it fails to provide healthy sustainable psychological benefits in the long run.
Instead, you should go for a face to face conversation with a real person who knows you and genuinely values your thoughts. Such people can empathize with your condition and offer some practical advice. Digital conversations with different people from different countries may offer some instant good feeling but in most cases, such feeling is a part of social-media induced mood disorders and can make things even more complex.
Disturbs mental composure through cyber bullying and social shaming
Social media allows users to hide their real identity and take other liberties that they can’t think of in real-life conversations. Many people misuse social media platforms to use racial slurs, derogatory comments, spread rumors, defaming a person, and forging relationships based on fake identity- all such instances can severely hurt the emotions of people at the receiving end.
Moreover, social shaming and cyberbullying are among the worst effects of social media culture. All such issues contribute to disturbing the mental composure and result in various psychological conditions like chronic stress, worry, depression, and anxiety.
Disconnects people from reality
Social media also compels people to build their altered ego and getting indulged in solidifying it. Whether it is about revealing your deep thoughts unattractively or giving a realistic appeal to your fake persona on social media, there is various unhealthy usage of social media that can take a person far from the ground reality and as the addiction increases, it may even cause personality disorders- especially to the people with delicate mental health profile.
Mobile internet can further multiply the disadvantages
Due to the popularity of mobile browsing it has now become even easier to remain connected with the social media 24X7. This portability has further multiplied the probabilities and severity of above mentioned psychological risks. With frequent notifications and repeated alerts, the person is more likely to develop impulsive/compulsive disorders.
Even in the healthy population it can cause mental distraction and make their routine more complex without adding much value to their life. It can also interfere with setting your priorities that need prompt attention. The workday stress has already affected many people but with social media enabled phones in their pocket, the effects can further be worsened.
Reviewing the business model of social media platforms
If we look at the business model of social media channels we would realize that their revenue is closely tied to the time you spend on their platform and the activities you perform there. Hence the entire ecosystem is designed to increase your house and interaction.
During social media sessions, some hormones get stimulated and your brain produces reward chemicals like dopamine (for instance when you receive likes or comments on your posts) that encourage you to increase your session time or interact further. Without realizing you may start trading your productive time just to spend on social media and at the end of the day it creates frustration and makes you feel guilty.
A deep thought: How justified is your social media usage?
As we have read about various negative effects of social media, it is the high time to analyse your social media use and see if it is justified:
Is our FOMO real?
FOMO or fear of missing out is one major factor that tethers your attention to social media and you are compelled to check your laptop or Smartphone every half an hour. If you would review it deeply, you’d find that most of the time this FOMO is fake and irrelevant. Knowing the latest popular reactions on social media about contemporary news wouldn’t add any real value to your general or contemporary knowledge.
Prompt sharing, commenting, or liking on the latest post of your digital friends may seem to be something that can strengthen the relationship; in reality, it isn’t. Do you think that such cosmetic reactions can decide the intensity of friendship? Responding to the least event by someone you don’t know well doesn’t make any sense. In short, except for a very few notifications that need prompt attention/reaction (like job posting) most of the times this FOMO is fake and irrelevant.
Do you use social media as a curtain during real social situations?
Social media also offers you a curtain to hide when faced with social situations that make you feel lonely or anxious. One can easily take out the Smartphone and start indulging in conversation with his/her social media connections telling about the anxiety or awkwardness s/he is going through.
Instead of relieving stress by face to face interaction with real and relevant people, many persons just communicate with their online friends which further cut them off from reality. This approach can gradually develop an unhealthy habit of choosing flight during such fight or flight situations.
Does social media masquerade your basic issues?
Instead of managing your mood, social media just masquerade the basic issues like depression, stress, or other psychological issues. It just distracts your attention from real issues for a while instead of encouraging you to face them boldly and resolve them. This brief distraction hurts your psychological health instead of healing it.
Instead, it would be better to find realistic, natural, offline ways to healthily manage your mood positively. For instance, you can visit a friend or call your close friends at home to share your issues and socialize. You can even go for a walk to the nearby garden and enjoy the refreshing benefits of natural scenery and fresh air. You may also opt for hobbies like gardening or painting that can offer better sustainable benefits. By indulging in social media interaction you miss all such healthy opportunities and also worsen the issue.
How do social media affect real life relationships?
Healthy relationships play a vital role in health psychology. Social media addiction can seriously impact your real-life relations thus affecting your psychological health. On one hand, it makes you exposed to various psychological risks mentioned earlier in this post, and on the other, it also prevents you from maintaining real-life relations.
Should you compare yourself with other social media members?
Comparing yourself with your social media friends can lower down your self-esteem and may even compel you to take strict measures or set unrealistic goals like reducing 40% of your weight within 3 months. You suddenly start having a negative body image which creates frustration.
Having zero control over the posts people publish about you including negative posts, demeaning content, or even cyberbullying can lead to various psychological issues.
How does social media distract your attention?
A mental pressure to continuously post different content on social media can create an unhealthy distraction and can also affect your performance at work, school, and/or home. In worst cases, it can severely impact your career as we; in social life.
Lack of self reflection
By spending most of your free time on social media you miss the chance for self-reflection and review your life or set new goals. You don’t get the time to develop your thoughts, solidify your perception and reflect on your overall personality- some of the key factors that help a person to grow and thrive in society.
Disrupts your sleep
A good night’s sleep is another major requirement for a healthy brain. However, the social media addiction compels you to spend a good part of your night checking the latest posts and interacting with your friends. It disturbs your sleep and may even lead to insomnia.
Denies you healthy real life hobbies
Unhealthy use of social media can also aggravate the depression or anxiety by cutting you off from the real conversation and enjoying healthy hobbies like gardening, sports, or strolling in a nearby park.