08 Jun Are you living through social media?
Social media addict? 80% of us say that checking our smartphone is the first thing we do in the morning. But what exactly are we checking? We’d hazard a guess, our social media notifications and feeds. The virtual world has become such a huge part of our everyday lives. It’s amazing that we can keep in contact with people all over the world and learn about breaking news as soon as it happens. However, there is, without a doubt, a dark side to our social feeds leading to social media addiction. And that’s not even considering the spam and fake news that seem to dominate them!
The National Institute of Mental Health has found a significant link between social media use in young adults and depression. Why is that? We believe that there is an immense pressure to document and ‘share’ our lives online. And we tend to share the highlights online; our best selfies, our milestones, our holiday snaps. When you really strip back social media and examine how it has evolved in the last few years, it can be understood as a quest for self-validation in the form of likes, retweets and follower gains. Most would probably deny it, but it’s uncomfortable when we don’t receive the likes that we anticipated. We compare our lives and our bodies to others’ online which results in feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy.
The impact of social media addiction on the mental health of young people
Recent research has shown that four of the most popular social networks are having a negative impact on the mental health of young people aged between 14 and 24 years of age. The survey of almost 1,500 young people highlighted that Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat worsened respondents concerns over their bodies, facilitated bullying, poor sleep and feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety. Instagram and Snapchat ranked the worst in the survey for mental health and well-being. And there’s little doubt why. They are essentially image-focused, visual platforms which can promote unrealistic beauty and lifestyle ideals. For young people, who have grown up surrounded by the virtual world, it can be particularly difficult to recognise when their social media has become unhealthy or unproductive. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of things to look out for if you think you might be living through social media.
Are you living through social media?
What to look out for if you think you might be suffering from social media addiction – by living through, or for, social media:
- Have you ever posted a status update or photo which you have later deleted after it didn’t receive many ‘likes’?
- Have you ever reflected on a funny or awkward situation by thinking about how you would make it into a status or tweet?
- Do you ever agonise over how many followers you have on social sites?
- Do you often take photos of your food at a restaurant to post on Instagram?
- Are your social feeds the first thing you check in the morning?
- Have you ever bought something because it would look good on social media?
Take a regular, mini digital detox from the online world
These might sound quite lighthearted, but it’s important to know when your enthusiastic use of social media use is tipping over into social media addiction. Remember we all choose our highlights to share online, and these are rarely, if ever, a representation of anyone’s whole life! Social media can be amazing at connecting people, but it’s crucial to have regular breaks from the online world. Why not give our 5:2 digital diet a go? You’ll feel much more confident in yourself after regular digital detoxes and will learn to take everything you see online with a pinch of salt. And you’ll be more grateful of who you have in life – real relationships beat online ‘followers’ every time!