In recent years many people have been spending a lot of time on social media sites. This is especially true for adolescents, teens, and young adults. In fact, research shows that 80% of this population uses these sites daily. Of this, about 50% spend at least two hours each day on the platform.
Many psychiatrists are now wondering what the impact of such heavy usage is on the mental health of these young people. For this reason, there have been rigorous studies done to look at this question. These studies have consistently discovered that these folks are suffering from poor mental health. One large-scale study actually indicated that heavy usage of these platforms makes people feel worse than they already do. It also tends to impact their overall satisfaction with their lives. In fact, when used for over two hours each day many have said that they are faring either “fair” or “poor.”
Why Heavy Social Media Usage Results in Poor Mental Health
There are many interlinked factors that help to explain why people who use a lot of social media are suffering from poor mental health today. One of the main reasons researchers believe that this is happening is because these social media platforms are being used “passively.” This means that they’re being used by people who are quietly observing what happens on other people’s profiles. Sometimes this is referred to as “Facebook stalking.”
One study has been conducted in which it’s been discovered that Facebook stalking frequently results in envy and resentment. Another study discovered that passive usage frequently results in a person having an intense, negative emotional experience which is sometimes referred to as the “fear of missing out” (FOMO). This can result in low self-esteem and overall well-being because it’s easy to forget that people have a tendency to portray their lives and themselves in a way that’s unrealistically flattering. In other words, what you see on social media is a heavily filtered and frequently glorified version of reality. Nevertheless, people will still try to pass these things as “the norm” and carefully omit the daily struggles that we all encounter at some point or another. Unfortunately, this frequently results in passive viewers making faulty social comparisons in which they conclude that others are leading better, happier lives than they are. This is something that can gnaw at your psyche, make you feel worse, and put a damper on your mental health.
Being passive on these platforms can result in more active use of them. This means that you’ll spend more time posting there. While doing so you’re also more likely to engage in impression management whereby you take extra measures to filter reality in such a way that you’re able to receive others’ admiration and approval – something that’s commonly referred to as “fishing for likes.”
There’s also research indicating that when you feel compelled to portray your life as “fun” instead of sharing its reality you pay the price when it comes to your mental health. In fact, it can be very damaging to your self-esteem when you don’t receive as many likes or comments as you’d hoped for. It may even cause you to question how much other people value you, something that can ultimately result in you scrutinizing your body image, appearance, and lifestyle. It can even result in self-doubt and self-loathing.
How to Mitigate These Harmful Effects
Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do here including:
- Making more of an effort to raise young people’s awareness of the potentially damaging side effects of their behavior so they can make informed decisions.
- Having positive discussions with youth about how social media is dangerous because it causes them to search for approval from others instead of accepting themselves.
- Creating specific times or spaces during which modems or devices are turned off. This can be imposed either by themselves or by others.
- Taking steps to ensure that the real social world is just as important to them as the virtual one.
If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health because of their social media usage, contact TMS Advantage in Pinellas county, Clearwater, and St Petersburg, FL today for the help you need to overcome this issue.
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