Social media has the capability of bringing people together, however, research reveals that our beloved platforms have countless negative health effects on us– notably on young adults and youth.
Way too many people use social media in the wrong way. There is a hyper-obsession with what is being posted because people want others to think a certain way about them. For some, it even develops massive intentionality to be a micro-manipulative person about what they want people to think about them. (Remember, in *most* cases, your character is more important than your reputation!)
Think about if you or someone in your life is obsessed with posting at a certain time with a specific caption that is thought to be pleasing to others rather than posting for yourself. But your social media is for you, not for others. It gives you access to an incredible amount of information and a network of people. That being said, I want to highlight better ways to use social media as well as discuss just a few negative impacts it has on us.
If you’re in your 20s, like me, and can spend an hour on social media looking through hairstyles to take to your cosmetologist, you can figure out how to use social media to get what you want. Put that same level of deliberation, responsibility, and power into who you let on your feed. Follow people who are doing what you love and share how to get there to motivate yourself.
In my opinion, social media is fabricated and fake so, you can’t get hung up over how other people look or come off as. You are your own beautiful, unique person with your own ambitions. Who cares if Becky from your high school is married with children or Brad is traveling around the world. What are your goals?
Remind yourself to not be careless about who you let into your feed. When there is someone who is making you feel bad about yourself, triggering you, or making you feel insecure because of their content– Mute them. Stop scrolling. In the “real” world, if you don’t like the way someone affects your life, you take them out of your life. You can do the same thing if social media isn’t serving you in a positive way.
I know there are negative impressions social media can give, during the summertime especially. You’re viewing countless pictures of girls with your “body goals” on Instagram or Tiktok that make you feel bad about yourself. Whatever the content is that is weighing you down, cleanse your feed and be mindful of the effects and influence social media has on your mental health. I love myself and I want to feel better so I get to decide what influences me. Influencers are only influencers because you are giving them the access to influence you.
Now, I’m not preaching about deleting all your social media and advocating for you to go read a book instead… but… if the shoe fits and you think that is what is best for you, then go for it.
I would be remiss if I did not note what revenge procrastination is while discussing social media use. If you’re thinking, what the heck is that Grace? Well let me tell you, readers, you’ve most likely done it. Revenge procrastination is essentially scrolling through social media at night to get back at your life during the day that doesn’t fulfill you. It’s something that doesn’t make you feel any better, and, if anything, it makes you mad at yourself for staying up so late and staring at your phone for so long. Just be mindful of that as well.
Coming of Age with the Constant Presence of Social Media
You’ve probably heard elders in your life say, “Back in my day,” or “Before your time,” prior to stating negative opinions about social media. Annoying as that may be (like okay boomer…) they kind of have a point, especially for kids growing up now.
Per MSU Denver, psychologists are becoming increasingly concerned about the way social-media feeds present a “highlight reel” of Instagrammable moments and filtered photos that invite comparisons and make scrollers feel worse about themselves.
“Social media and technology use can rob us of the things that make for true well-being – time with loved ones and building meaningful relationships, pursuing good health, and being present for the ordinary but beautiful life moments that happen every day,” said Alexis Karris Bachik, Ph.D., professor of Psychological Sciences at Metropolitan State University of Denver and a licensed clinical psychologist.
I know when I’m truly having a good time with friends, my phone is down, and at the end of the night, we are all mad that we didn’t get a picture. However, it’s good to live and enjoy the moments in your life rather than trying to take a video or picture of everything you do.
Negative Health Effects of Social Media
As I previously mentioned, research has revealed that social media platforms can have negative health effects.
JD Supra, who relies mainly on content provided by large law firms, used the growing number of social media lawsuits to expose some effects of social media including:
- Clinical anxiety
- Clinical depression
- Low self-esteem
- Poor body image
- Eating disorders
- Social media addiction
Additionally, a 2018 Lancet study found that social media use led to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep as well as memory loss and poor academic performance.
There is even proof that social media algorithms manipulate you. They are programmed to reinforce certain things and activate your brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine which is linked to pleasurable activities.
Until social media companies stop making algorithms that are intended to increase engagement and revenue, you have to take matters into your own hands and be mindful of how the content affects you.