Checking our social media feed has become an hourly, if not daily, routine for many. While social media has helped us stay more connected with people all over the world some habits have led to concerns about mental health. Specifically, social media addiction and the potentially negative effects that ‘likes’ may have on self-perception.
“The addiction and compulsion that some teenagers have with not only checking their social media feeds but valuing themselves on the number of likes or followers they have is highly concerning,” says Dr Ryan Harvey of House Call Doctor.
While platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were created to help foster positive social interactions many studies are finding this is often not the case.
“On an individual level, we are seeing an increasing trend of people finding their moods worsened after using social media,” says Dr Harvey.
Most of us open our social media apps almost religiously, checking first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We do this expecting to see and feel something wonderful or new, however the opposite often occurs.
“When you look at the Facebook or Instagram page of someone else you are seeing only the highlight reel of their life,” says Dr Harvey. While they may be posing on a holiday and looking blissfully happy we don’t know what is going on behind the photo.
“This is particularly dangerous for younger more vulnerable generations as they may struggle with identifying this and compare their lives to the highlight reel of another.”
While there are some potentially negative side effects there are ways to create a positive relationship with social media:
1. Schedule time
“Individuals need to consider how much time they are spending on social media and whether that time is impacting their lives,” says Dr Harvey.
If you think you may be checking your social media feeds too often scheduling specific times may be helpful. “Pick times such as the bus ride home from school or work where you generally would not be doing other activities or missing out on the ‘real world’,” says Dr Harvey.
2. Remove the app from your phone
“Having access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at just tap of your phone screen can increase the temptation to ‘quickly’ check,” says Dr Harvey.
As we all know this ‘quick look’ can easily turn into hours of scrolling newsfeeds. Deleting the apps from your phone forces you to login via an internet browser and this may help limit temptation to check regularly.
3. Think before you post
We hear this all the time but it’s true, think twice before you post anything on social media. Consider the pros and cons of posting certain things and the possibility of offending anyone or having your post taken out of context.
4. Be selective about your followers
If you find that certain accounts make you angry, sad, jealous or disappointed unfollow them. “Following celebrities on social media can easily have a negative influence,” says Dr Harvey. “Their lavish lifestyles are not realistic and can cause disappointment and envy.”
Similarly unfollow and block any users that may make you feel bad about yourself or post negative comments on your feed. This may result in losing likes but your account will be more protected and less susceptible to internet trolls.
5. Post it later
“Taking time out of the present moment to post on social media is concerning,” says Dr Harvey. “We often see full tables of people taking pictures of their food and posting them instead of talking, eating their meal and enjoying each other’s company.”
Stop letting your food go cold as you choose between Valencia and Juno, enjoy your meal and the company. If you need to get a shot take the picture and worry about the filter and caption later.
Written by: Dr Ryan Harvey of House Call Doctor.