Is social media affecting our mental health?

It’s nearly impossible to find someone who doesn’t have a phone, much less someone who doesn’t have a social media app of some kind. With all the good that social media has provided, it has done some detrimental damage to our society as well. 

We can’t deny the contributions social media has made to society. It’s changed the way we communicate with others, grown businesses and exposed us to a variety of sources, be it for entertainment or information. It’s allowed us to share moments from our lives with friends, family and Internet friends and lets us show our unique personalities to the world. It can connect us with the news and offer a sense of emotional support. However, a lot of negativity can hide behind the fabricated posts…

According to mcleanhospital.org, interacting on social media releases dopamine, the “feel-good chemical” linked to sex, food and social interaction. When we post photos and receive likes and feedback, those chemicals are released, allowing us to grow addicted to the high of receiving notoriety. Not knowing if the next post will get more likes than the last makes us eager to see if it will surpass our standards. 

The fear of missing out – FOMO – can also create a sense of loneliness. If someone is posting about trips, their relationship and other milestones in their life, it can create a sense of not feeling as accomplished or successful as their friends. It doesn’t help we can edit our photos with a few taps on a screen. Comparing ourselves constantly online is unhealthy for our mindset. 

Besides affecting our mental health, it can also affect our physical health as well. Loads of people will turn to their phones to scroll for a “few minutes” on social media which turns into a few hours before they go to sleep. According to mcleanhospital.org, a 2018 British study found that delayed and decreased sleep led to depression, memory loss and poor work and academic performance. 

Being on our phones and computers all the time has led us humans to live a sedentary lifestyle. We are getting lazier and lazier while health problems such as heart issues, obesity and muscle degeneration are on the rise. If we get off our phones for a while, we are doing our mind and body some good. 

The key is all about finding balance. Knowing our limits about when social media is becoming too much for us and taking a digital detox from it can help us find a healthy balance. Social media isn’t bad, only when it reaches the excesses.

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