Healthy Habits: Moderating social media


Photo credit/ Jennifer Flynn

Moderating social media is a key element to balancing mental health.

Q: What advice do you have regarding limiting the use of social media to preserve one’s mental health?

My Advice:
Our phones are such a powerful piece of technology. It’s no secret that we’re more digitally connected than ever before.

Although we normally hear about the negative effects social media has on us, there are some benefits. It makes communication easier while also allowing a person to connect with others around the world. More jobs have been created through social media as well. It is also beneficial because it allows self expression, among other benefits that can be read here. It is a valuable asset that can make life easier.

One Harvard study actually found that being connected through social media can positively increase mental health. It also mentions barriers, including time and distance, being broken by using social media.

There are two sides to the social media debate though. Social media can be distracting. It is easy to get caught up in mindlessly scrolling and before you know it, it’s been two hours. Social media apps can cause our brains to release dopamine, making us feel happy, and the more we are on the app, the more dopamine is released. This is why it’s so addictive and distracting. Increased social media use can further lead to lack of sleep as discussed by the Mayo Clinic. Being on your phone at night scrolling can cause you to stay up for longer.

Another downside to social media is the lack of authenticity. People have the power to alter and photoshop their photos. Some of the posts we see are altered, unrealistic and cause us to distort our idea of the ideal person. This is where social media causes harm.

In reality everyone has their flaws and that is what makes each of us unique. We shouldn’t try to change ourselves for more likes or followers.

The biggest piece of advice that I could give is to use it in moderation. One way to do this would be to set time limits on social media apps, maybe 30 minutes a day. It’s also a good idea to potentially take a strict break from social media. This would mean cutting it out completely for at least 24 hours.

An easy way to remove yourself from social media is to spend time with your friends, not on your phones. Another piece of advice is to clean up your newsfeed by getting rid of negative posts and people on social media like discussed here.

Be mindful of how much time you spend on social media and ultimately do what is best for you. Everyone has different needs and different schedules and that’s okay!

Being so consumed in our phones can distract us from things happening right in front of us. It is good to stay connected but it is equally, if not more important, to connect with the people in front of you. Remember, everything you see on the internet may not always be true.

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