Social media is a daily part of life for most young people. While it can be fun to browse pages and follow celebs, social media also has the power to negatively affect your mental health. Here’s more.

Addiction

You might not know this, but popular social media platforms actually research their users’ behaviour, and how they can get people to use their platforms more often and for longer periods of time. The design, as well as the content you see on social media, is made to make you come back for more.

Since social media has only been around since the early 2000s, many of its effects are only now beginning to be discovered. That’s why, even if your friends and peers are using social media as much as you are, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. To avoid this, try to limit the time you spend on the socials to an hour a day – you can break this up into 10 minutes intervals throughout your day.

Anxiety and depression

Have you ever felt more stressed out or negative after browsing social media than when you started? You’re not alone, many people feel this way, and studies have even linked social media use to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness and self-harm.

Comparison to other people’s lives, whether it’s your favourite celebs or your classmates from school, can make you feel pressure to have a “perfect” life or maintain a certain standard of beauty and success.

Cyber-bullying is also a reality on social media, and it’s sadly taken gossip and insults to a whole new level. It’s important to remember that words, even when they’re said online, can be hurtful and impact your mental health negatively. If you’re experiencing this - block the user, report them for harassment or delete your account altogether if things get out of hand.

Self-sabotage

According to Psychology Today, self-sabotage is when you actively or passively take steps to prevent yourself from reaching your goals. If you’re finding yourself unable to concentrate on important things such as your school work or even hobbies you used to enjoy because you prefer browsing social media, you may be using your favourite apps as a way to self-sabotage.

When it comes to procrastinating and putting off meaningful tasks, social media is often the easiest distraction to go for, and the hardest one to switch off.

How to unplug

Now that you know how social media may be affecting you negatively, it’s time to unplug from it. This isn’t an easy process, especially if you’re addicted to it already. However, it’s a necessary step to healing and improving your mental health.

Become conscious of the time you spend on social media, and limit it to a specific amount (eg. 1 hour a day). Mute all notifications on your devices (phone, laptop etc.) so that you aren’t constantly tempted to check in.

Set an intention for yourself, and prioritise activities during the day that add value to your life such as school work, hobbies and communicating with friends outside of social media.

When you do use social media, make your feed a space you’re happy with. Follow positive role models, close friends and other pages that you can get value out of. Unfollow and unfriend anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself or spreads negativity and hate. Now that you know social media can be bad for your mental health, make sure you’re using it responsibly and with positive intentions. Remember to take care of yourself, and reach out to us on Ask CellCgirl if you’re struggling with anything study, life or social media related. Good luck!

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