Social media’s impact on our daily lives is indispensable and it has integrated deeply into our everyday life. In 2020, during the lockdown year, social media platforms users grew in a large amount in three years to 4.20 billion. But using the social media comes with its advantages and disadvantages on the overall health as well as mental health. The pros and cons of social media on mental health depends on how its being used. These pros and cons of social media on mental health will be discussed further in this article. I will also give tips regarding how to use social media so that we can use it safely and effectively.
Pros and cons of social media on mental health:
The social media can have both positive and negative effects on the mental health.
Pros of social media on mental health:
According to Dr. John Grohol, who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Psych Central,
“Social media can be a powerful tool for mental health. It can help people connect with others who share their experiences, challenges, and goals. It can also provide access to information, resources, and support that can improve their well-being. Social media can also inspire people to take action and make a positive difference in the world.”
Here are some benefits of social media use on mental health.
- Staying connected with friends and family: Social media can help us keep in touch with our loved ones, especially during the pandemic when physical distancing is necessary. We can share our daily life routine with them and can also see what they are up to by exchanging photos, videos etc. This can help us feel connected with the family and reduce our loneliness. This can be a major boost for our mental health.
- Finding communities of interest: Social media can also help us find other people sharing same interests as ours and same hobbies, goals and view points as us. We can join groups, pages, or hashtags that relate to our interests and interact with like-minded people. This can boost our happiness, creativity, and learning.
- Raising awareness about mental health: Social media is a platform in which we can talk openly about our mental problems. It can also help to access the necessary support we need from other people who understands what we are going through. We can also access helpful resources, such as articles, podcasts, apps, or online therapy services from social media that can improve our mental health. It can help us to send positivity and help others who are going through similar situation.
- Improving Brain Health: Our brain health and cognitve functions such as memory and problem-solving can also be improved using social media including. For example, learning new things online, playing games, or watching educational videos can exercise our brain and keep it sharp. Moreover, social media can also provide us with entertainment which can help in reducing stress.
- Empowering social change: Social media has enabled us to Raise awareness about important topics as the information can reach to everyone effectively and easily. We can use different programmes in social media to educate ourselves and others, express our opinions or join movements that align with our values. This can increase our sense of purpose and fulfillment .
Cons of social media on mental health:
The Cons of social media on mental health are:
- Comparing ourselves with others: Social media can also make us feel insecure and unhappy about ourselves by showing us other people’s success or happiness. We may compare ourselves to others who seem to have perfect lives or bodies and feel inadequate or dissatisfied with our own . This can lead to depression, or anxiety as we set unrealistic standard of happiness or beauty by seeing others. According to National Institute of Mental health22.2% of adolescents will suffer from severe mental impairment in their lifetimes.
- Getting addicted to like and followers: Social media can become an addiction and make us crave likes, comments, shares, or followers. We may become obsessed with checking our notifications or posting frequently to get more attention or approval from others . This can reduce our self-worth and happiness. Researches has revealed that more than 6 out of 10 men and 5 out of 10 women have a social media addiction, and the average person spends 1 hour and 40 minutes in total per day on social media.
- Facing cyberbullying and trolling: One of the major con of social media for our mental health is cyberbullying. When the post gets uploaded on social media, it can get both positive or negative interactions from others. Sometimes, other people can bully, harass, mock, or threaten us online and this bullying can result in trauma or sadness which can damage our mental
- Losing touch with reality: Social media can also make us lose touch with reality by distracting us from the other things happenings around us. We spend too much time scrolling through feeds or watching stories and neglect our real life responsabilities or relationships with others. This can damage our relations and therefore, can have a negative impact on our mental health.
- Exposing ourselves to negativities: Social media can also expose us to wrong or misleading information. It can influence our decisions or judgement in harmful ways. For example, we may encounter fake news, conspiracy theories, propaganda, or scams that may confuse us or manipulate us . Moreover, we may also encounter negative or violent content that may upset us or trigger our emotions. Study revealed that facebook usage among college students led to an increase in severe depression by 7% and anxiety disorder by 20%
Tips on how to use Social media wisely:
Here are some tips on how you can utilise social media safely and effectively, which means maximizing the benefits while avoiding the drawbacks:
- Limit your time and frequency: Set a weekly or daily limit for the social media use and try to stick to your limit no matter what. Turn off the notifications of your mobile for social media apps as it will benefit you in limiting its use. Also you should limit the use of social media early in the morning when you wake up or before going to the bed during the night . It is so because it can affect your sleep.
- Be mindful: Before you open different social media apps, ask yourself in your mind, “why are you opening the app and what benefit you get from it”. Choose the platform that helps you and not such platforms that are not helpful for you.
- Quality over quantity: You should try to follow the people or pages that make you feel good happy unfollow the ones that make you feel bad or sad. You can also mute, block, or report any accounts that are abusive, hateful, or harmful. Seek out such a content that enhances your mental health and boost your mood.
- Be respectful: Be yourself on social media and don’t try to impress others by pretending to be someone you are not. Share your own thoughts and feelings and also respect the opinions and feelings of others. Don’t compare yourself to others or judge them based on their posts. Always remember that you don’t know what the other might be suffering from and what challenges he faces. So always try to be nice.
- Balance offline and online activities: Don’t let social media take over your life and neglect your offline activities. It is extremely necessary to maintain the balance between online and offline world to stay mentally healthy. Try to make sure that you are engaging your friends and family. Also make sure that you are giving enough time to some other activities like hobby, work, study etc. These offline activities can boost your mental health more than social media can.
1. What are the pros and cons of social media on mental health?
The pros and cons of social media on mental health usually depends on the usage of social media. Pros are improved brain health, social change, raise awareness about mental health etc while the cons are addiction, comparing yourself with others and cyberbullying etc.
2. Does social media have a positive impact on mental health?
Social media provides increases connectivity and support and provide a platform for expression of your feelings and thoughts. Engaging with online communities and support groups can help to increase a sense of belonging.
3. How can I protect my mental health from using social media?
To protect your mental health while using social media, most important step is setting up a limit. Also engage yourself in offline activities along with using social media and prefer more face to face interactions.
4. Can I use social media to support mental health?
Yes, you can use social media to support your mental health by following accounts that promote positivity and also engage in online communities that share similar interests or experiences like yours.
5. Can Social media addiction lead to mental health problems?
Social media addiction can effect our mental health negatively. Its excessive use can lead to depression, loneliness and anxiety aswell.
Call to action:
The pros and cons of social media on mental health depends on how we use it. The Center for Disease Control found that during the social media rise from 2007 to 2017, there has been a 57% increase in suicide among ages 10-24. So, it is extremely necessary to adress the effects of social media on our mental health and how we can get maximum benefits from it and minimize its side effects. By following the tips given in the article, we can use social media wisely and enjoy its benefits while avoiding its drawbacks.
Hi, I’m Affan lateef , a pharmacist by profession. I have a degree in pharmacy and over 5 years of experience helping people achieve their health goals. I write about various topics like health, artificial intelligence in health, mental health, diet and weight loss. Follow me here on these platforms given below.