In recent times, social media has become a crucial part of our lives, it’s how we communicate, consume information, and share our lives with others. Whilst it has numerous benefits, there is a large growing concern upon social media on our mental health.
Positives of social media:
Connections and communities: There are many positives on social media such as allowing others to stay communicated with both friends and family, even throughout the world, enabling them a place to share their day to day experiences.It’s also a place for them to share and seek emotional support from others, and feel validated in communities online, something that may not be possible in their everyday lives.
Education / Awareness: Online and social media is a great place for people to learn, whether that be for helping others with their own mental health, or offering advice on self-care tips. Social media is an important tool that assists people to find healthier coping strategies, and valuable resources on mental health issues. It is a powerful tool which can also help to spread awareness not only by spreading news on the world, but can help everyone by providing sources on diagnosis that others didn’t know existed before. This helps to reduce stigma around more less common mental health struggles allowing others to connect, and feel less alone.
Negatives of social media:
Cyberbullying: Whilst social media is a very useful tool in modern society, it can be a double edged sword. The most common form of negativity in social media is cyberbullying, allowing users to interact with others anonymously, creating a place where anything can happen. Harassment and cyberbullying can play a seriously negative impact on anyone’s mental heal
th, but significantly that of young teens, which are most of social media consumers.
Comparison: Social media has tonnes of users online, creating an unrealistic beauty standard on impressionable people. The use of photo-editing apps, filters, and plastic surgery is very common, causing others to feel as though they have to live up to those standards, which can cause very low self-esteem and body issues. As well as the standards on looks, influencers’ lives on social media can also be altered. Posts and highlights are carefully created to make it seem to viewers as though they are living ‘perfect lives’ although that may not be the case. This can have an effect on viewers as their lives aren’t as perfect as those that they see online, causing even more negative effects, depression, and feeling inadequate.
Fear of missing out: Fear of missing out is the constant need to be consuming more media, by not wanting to go a couple minutes without wanting to know all of the drama, romance and issues that influencers produce. Consuming large amounts of media day to day can already have a large negative effect on your mental health, but not wanting to stop or take breaks due to the ‘feeling of missing out’ can cause severe anxiety and abandonment issues.
Tips to help reduce social media negativity:
Settings breaks / boundaries: Setting up breaks from social media can be very good in preventing anxiety and severe abandonment issues. By focusing more on your everyday life by going out on walks, prioritising friends and family, and surrounding yourself with hobbies that you enjoy. Disconnecting from consuming media before bed, can help to reduce stress, allowing you to improve your sleep quality.
Selecting your feed: By choosing who you follow and blocking or removing accounts and filtering out harmful subjects, you can help to improve your mental health. This means removing celebrities that lower your self esteem, as they are living the life you want to live. Or by seeing those unrealistic beauty standards, and thinking you’re not good enough. This is a way of introducing self-care into your life, by not triggering those negative emotions, and can allow you to focus on spending time on more meaningful things.
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