The continuous growth and influence of social media platforms cannot be understated in today's technologically driven world. However, amidst the various benefits of staying connected globally and enhanced networking, entertainment & communication, there is an increasingly worrisome impact on mental health, said Dr Chandni Tugnait, M.D. (Alternative Medicines), Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Business Coach, NLP Expert, Healer, Founder & Director, Gateway of Healing.
Research has also shown that social media can positively affect mental health by providing social support, promoting self-expression and connecting people with common interests. However, the adverse effects may outweigh these positive effects, especially for people who use social media excessively or have preexisting mental health conditions.
With our constant engagement through apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the time spent on social media has inadvertently led to increased symptoms of depression. Numerous studies report that heavy social media usage is correlated with feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and anxiety.
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Ways Social Media Impacts Mental Health
Here are some ways that social media can impact your mental health.
Comparison and Self-Esteem
Social media can create a culture of comparison, where people compare their lives, looks, and accomplishments to others. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and depression, especially among young people. Primarily driven by the need to portray a perfect online image, individuals constantly compare themselves to others, amplifying feelings of inadequacy and envy.
Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying occurs throughout the digital world, allowing the offender to remain anonymous. Victims are subjected to slandering, taunting, and in severe cases, stalking, with potentially devastating effects. The emotional trauma inflicted by cyberbullying can lead to severe anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. A survey shows that most adolescents and teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying, with frightening implications for the future of our globalised society.
Addiction & Distraction
Social media can be addictive, with people spending hours scrolling through feeds, checking notifications, increasing screen time and interacting with others. This can distract from real-life relationships and responsibilities, leading to social isolation, loneliness, apathy, and negative emotions.
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Social media use has been linked to sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up feeling rested, which can lead to fatigue, irritability, and other harmful effects on mental health.
This digital age phenomenon, known as "Fear of Missing Out" (FOMO), where people feel they are missing out on experiences, events, or relationships, also contributes to increased stress levels and social anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.
Addressing the impact of social media on mental health is of paramount importance. As we continue to advance digitised communication, it is essential to establish guidelines, awareness campaigns, and support systems to ensure that the detrimental effects of social media use are minimal.
Cultivating empathy, mutual respect, and understanding in online spaces will empower users to engage positively, mitigating the risk of undermining one's mental health. Additionally, seeking professional help for mental health concerns is vital if social media use is causing negative emotions or behaviours.
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