Over the past 10 to 20 years, social media has become a daily part of most people’s lives. Electronic communication, known as social media, allows people to share ideas, information, videos, and messages through online websites and communities. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are among the most popular social media sites/apps, but blogs and any online message board or comment section would also be considered social media. Due to the ability to connect with people across the world at any time, social media has some positive attributes; however, the contrived nature of people’s posts can also have negative results on mental health.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of social media and mental health:
Pros of Social Media:
- Provides a Sense of Community: Social media provides people with an endless network of people to connect with. This might help those who feel lonely or isolated an opportunity to connect with others.
- Creates Anonymity: Online communication allows people to discuss their problems without having to provide their real name or fear real-world consequences by say, employers or friends.
- Easy Access to Resources and Education: Anyone with a smart phone has 24/7 access with no geographic limitations. People struggling can access internet support groups, articles, and message boards to have help at their fingertips.
When used for these positive reasons, social media and the internet in general can be helpful. However, an overuse of social media has been linked to negative mental health issues.
Cons of Social Media:
- Contrived Narration: Just about anyone and everyone that posts on social media carefully edits their online persona. When you see a picture of a friend and their family at Disney World it doesn’t show the whole picture, but rather gives a look at one posed moment. What the world is not seeing is that perhaps it’s 95 degrees out, the park is packed, and as soon as the camera was put away your friend’s kids have a meltdown. No one’s life is as good as it looks online.
- FOMO: This acronym stands for Fear of Missing Out and contributes to lower self-esteem because people are constantly comparing themselves to their what peers are doing, which makes people feel left out and lonely, causing doubts about success.
- Time Consuming: Social media is addicting and frequent use may lead to decreased sleep and exercise. Both sleep and exercise are important for mental health.
- Cyberbullying: While more frequent in children and teens, cyberbullying occurs when people are bullied over the internet. Bullying of any kind can lead to mental health issues, including loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and depression.
Create a Healthy Balance in Your Social Media Usage
With everything in life, the best way to balance the pros and cons is to use social media in moderation. Limiting or scheduling social media usage can help it from becoming an obsession that makes you feel worse about your life. Aim to interact with online communities that bring you joy, rather than make you feel bad about yourself.