Social media has bettered the lives of millions throughout the world. It has allowed society to socialize, practice freedom of speech, share experiences and so much more. Because of social media, society has become more aware of what is going on globally. But what happens when we use social media too much? What happens when we consume social media so much that it begins to affect our health?
When it comes to the word addiction, drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes are usually the first things that come to mind. Rarely has social media been associated with addiction, until now. Addiction can be defined as the neglect of personal life due to the mental preoccupation of a certain ideal for a prolonged period of time. Researchers at Nottingham Trent University coined the term “Facebook Addiction Disorder” after they found that 75% of all internet users are on social media. They found that a staggering 45% of users spend over 80% of their time on social media. Through multiple studies, researchers found that individuals felt “uneasy” or “uncomfortable” when deprived of social media for only 2 hours or longer. At these rates, social media begins to take up valuable space in the brain.
Despite the purpose of social media being to connect people, studies have shown that platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have instigated feelings of isolation among users. Instead of individuals highlighting their lives through pictures and posts, these platforms have made individuals’ moods dependent on the engagement they receive per post. According to research published by the Austrian Institute of Technology found that frequent social media users often fall prey to the “forecasting error.” Users are often turning to social media to engage with others ultimately to increase their levels of happiness. What ends up happening is that they quickly get sucked into the competitive and addictive nature of social media which then lowers their level of happiness ultimately isolating even further.
Many social media users fail to understand that the so-called glamorous lives of Instagram influencers, Facebook celebrities, or even their friends are nowhere near as amazing as they make them. These platforms are designed to highlight the best moments. Research from Harvard University has shown that as a result of this from social media, depression rates have grown rapidly within developed nations.
Recognize that social media is a tool that can be used to better your life if utilized properly. To avoid these psychological effects, use social media for its purpose only. The goal is to be happy, not to make it seem like you are happy.
- Limit social media usage to 1 hour per day
- Avoid social media in the mornings & evenings
- Take every opportunity to interact through voice/video rather than message
- Remind yourself of the risk of prolonged usage
- Focus on creating your own content rather than consuming it.