By: Samantha Algauer, MA, MS, LAC
With the prolonged quarantine, social media is often being utilized as a method to reduce social isolation and boredom. Social media can be a very beneficial outlet in its ability to keep us connected to family and friends even during a time when physical contact is restricted. Social support and belongingness are important to help improve our mood. However, as the amount of time spent on social media increases, this can have an inverse effect on our well-being and mental health.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat connect us to others through shared photos, likes, and/or comments. However, if these platforms are used excessively, this can have detrimental effects on mental health. A study by Pantic (2014) revealed that Facebook use was associated with lower self-esteem and increased feelings of shame; however, the impact on users’ emotions decreased almost immediately once individuals ceased Facebook use. Social comparison, or comparing one’s own experiences and appearance with those on social media, can negatively influence self-esteem and mood. This may also lead to feelings of jealousy and loneliness. It is important to consider the following when using social media:
- Follow pages and people that make us feel better about ourselves, not worse. Empowering messages can improve well-being.
- Remember not everything you see online is real. Many people use photoshop and filters.
- We all go through difficult times, and life is not perfect like it may appear online. People tend to only show the good things, which is unrealistic.
- Track the amount of time you are spending online. Try to designate a certain amount of time (e.g., no more than 20 minutes a day) to check social media.
- Instead of picking up a phone or tablet, distract yourself by reading a book, learning a new hobby on YouTube, meditating, baking, exercising indoors, etc.
- Spend quality time with another person or pet, even if it’s through FaceTime or Zoom.
- Keep your phone or tablet in a place that is not easily accessible, if not needed.
Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657.