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The Negative Effects of Social Media

Can you imagine what life would like without social media? For many of us, that’s a world that we wouldn’t want to live in as social media has become a daily part of our lives. We use it to stay in touch with friends and family, reconnect with old acquaintances, and promote everything from social causes to our businesses.

Some research has even found that social media is beneficial to our mental health by providing us with a sense of belonging, finding role models, and increasing trust. It can also increase happiness in some cases and encourage us to improve our physical health.

However, there has been even more research that shows the negative effects that social media has on our mental health, such as:

  • Comparing yourself to others on social media is linked to depressive symptoms.

  • Social media can cause anxiety and stress if you’re unable to check your social media accounts.

  • The University of Missouri found that subjects showed signs of a type of schizotypy called social anhedonia. “This condition is the inability to feel happy from activities that one would normally enjoy.”

  • Reduces in-person interaction, which makes communicating with others more difficult. Also, only communicating with others from behind a screen can make people feel isolated and lonely.

  • Constantly checking your social accounts can increase the chances of becoming addicted.

Social media has also been linked to sleep disturbances and being exposed to bullying, inappropriate content, and identify theft. It can also affect our relationships by decreasing empathy and distracting us to be present when around others face-to-face.

At work, social media may also impact your productivity. It’s been found that the average person spends around 40 minutes on social media per day. That doesn’t seem like too much. But, that’s in addition to breaks and any other interruptions like phone calls or talkative co-workers. At the end of the day, those 40 minutes add up -- this is even truer when it takes 23 minutes to regain your focus after being distracted. And, that time could have been spent on something more productive.

Unless you plan on completely quitting social media, which is unlikely for most people, the best solution is to limit how much time you spend on social media or even taking a break from social media for a period of time. In fact, experts recommend that you spend no more than 30 minutes on social media per day to reduce the mental health side effects.

That takes a lot of self-discipline. But, here are some ways to help get you started:

  • Turn off social media notifications on your phone. You may want to uninstall social media apps altogether.

  • Create passwords that are harder to remember so that you can’t easily login.

  • Schedule specific times to check your social media accounts.

  • Set time limits on how long you’ll be on social media.

  • Become more present with your real-world activities. For example, when spending time with family or friends, give them all of your attention by not looking at your social media channels on your phone.

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