Is Social Media Really Bad for Our Health?
Is social media bad for our health? Most of us know deep down that it is. We know we spend too much time on it, it makes us feel bad about ourselves and it’s not really enriching our lives in any way.
Yet, here we are, still logging in every day. Not just once and day but lots and lots of times a day.
We know it’s “bad”, but what is it exactly that makes it so bad? We will explore this below and provide a guide on things you can be doing instead of social media as well!
How often are we on our phones anyway?
According to a survey in 2016 by Dscout the AVERAGE mobile phone user touches their phone a staggering 2617 times per day. Notice I said average? That means the top users are touching their phones over 5000 times a day. WHAT?
The NY Post states that we are touching our phones about every 12 min, meaning we are going to spend 7 years of our lives in front of our phones.
When you think about it though, it’s not just social media that we are spending time on right? We are ordering food, paying bills, texting, facetime, and a bunch of other stuff. Right?
Sure. We can rationalize those numbers all day long but the reality is we ARE spending a good portion of that time on social media, and as I said above it’s the time spent on social media that is clearly bad for our health.
Is Too Much Social Media Bad for Our Health?
The following are some stats from Backlinko on social media use:
- 49.03% of the 7.77 billion people in the world use social media
- 83.36% of internet users are on social media, and 90.71% of mobile internet users are active on networks
So, it seems to say if you are connected to the internet either by a computer, tablet or phone, the chances of you being on social media are HIGH.
While social media does have the benefit of being “social” and introducing you to people with similar interests, fostering a sense of community, and being a great place for encouraging dialogue about important topics it does come with its downsides.
Users need to be aware of the negative impact it could be having on their health and wellbeing.
Here, we’ll look at the downsides of too much social media and how it could be impacting your health.
The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
There’s been a lot of research carried out over the past few years, which has shown excessive social media use can lead to mental health issues. It’s been linked to an increase in depression, anxiety, stress, and eating disorders.
There’s a number of reasons social media can trigger mental health issues. Firstly, although you’re interacting digitally with friends and family, it’s not the same as in-person interaction. This means you can often end up feeling isolated and lonely.
I’ve been delving into the effects of social media in my personal life and have been busy consuming all the books on the topic I can find. Check out my recommendations in my resources section.
In the book Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life, there is an excerpt from Sean Parker, one of the early investors of Facebook where he states that social media sites are designed to be a “social-validation loop…exploiting a venerability in human psychology.”
If you think social media is a “safe place” think again. Social Media companies employ hundreds of people whose goal is to keep you coming back, no matter the consequence. They have no care for how these platforms may be affecting you emotionally.
Social Media and the Comparison Game
It’s also common to feel envious of others when you’re browsing your social media feed. Comparing yourself to how others are doing is only going to make you feel bad if it appears you’re not doing as well as they are.
The problem is, we are comparing ourselves to a version of reality that doesn’t even exist. Instagram for example shows mostly curated images of a flawless alternate reality, yet once we see these images, even while knowing they are scripted and edited, we assume we are supposed to have lives that mirror the ones we are seeing.
Women and young girls are particularly vulnerable to this and the increase in eating disorders, mental health issues, and suicides of pre-teen and teenage girls is heartbreaking.
Could Social Media be Affecting your Physical Health too?
In addition to mental health, we are talking about physical health issues too.
It’s reported that a majority of people “feel” prettier online than they do in real life. News flash, it’s the same person. Yet with filters, imaging apps, and even the photographic angle in which you take your photo you can make yourself “look” differently.
When you look, say, thinner, in your photos then you do in real life you might start to believe you Should look that way for real. Cue the eating disorders.
Secondly, The more you use social media, the less active you’re going to be. This means your cardiovascular health is going to suffer, you’ll potentially gain weight and it also increases the chances of developing a serious illness if you’re not active enough.
So, the physical effects can be pretty serious if you’re addicted to social media.
Can Social Media Cause Trouble Sleeping?
When you add together poor mental and poor physical health you get a wonderful combination that can cause sleeping problems. Sleeping problems in turn contribute to poor mental health and poor physical health. It’s a vicious cycle.
Additionally, if you tend to lay in bed checking your social media before you go to sleep this will in fact cause you to get less sleep.
Looking at a screen and communicating with people on social media right before bed, is sure to negatively impact your sleep. Your brain will be more active, making it more difficult to actually fall asleep.
It’s also known that the blue light emitted from smartphone and tablet screens, can interrupt sleep patterns. It’s recommended that you place these devices in another room altogether when you sleep!
So, like anything in life, too much social media can prove to be harmful to your health. Many of us have become reliant on social media without even realizing it. Therefore, if you’re looking to improve your health and live a happier life, the answer could be to cut back on your social media use.
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