Most kids today are growing up online. Every important moment and most of the non-important ones are posted online, shared on social media for the world to see. And it’s not just kids. According to Pew Research Center, by February of 2019, more than 72% of adults regularly used at least one social media platform.
Using social media can be fun and feel like a great way to connect with people, like friends and family or to meet new people from all over the world. While it may seem on the surface that social media allows us to be more social and connected, there are growing concerns that it’s contributing to more loneliness and mental health issues than previously thought.
How Social Media Impacts Mental Health
The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side
Social media gives a false impression that everyone else’s life is better. People tend to show themselves in the best possible light; rarely do people share videos, pictures, or stories of themselves stumbling or making the same painful mistakes that everyone does. As we scroll through the seemingly perfect lives of the people we follow on social media, we can’t help but question our own lives’ imperfections. Why do they have it all together and I don’t?
It Affects the Thought Process
Social media is killing our ability to think, to ponder, to let our minds wander, to daydream. Now, during those quiet moments, when we’re waiting in line at the grocery store, when the person we’re waiting at the café for is running late, when we’re riding the train to work, our eyes and minds are focused―glued―to our smartphones reading people’s posts and “liking” their photos. Even those precious thoughtful moments before sleep takes over are gone, replaced with a tiny screen in our face until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer. We’re constantly picking up our phones, more than 85 times a day on average and it’s affecting our cognitive abilities. A study by the University of Texas at Austin showed significantly higher test scores in participants who put their phones out of the room than those who didn’t.
It Impedes Processes That Keep Us Healthy
People who spend a lot of time on social media tend to be less active than people who don’t. Regular exercise is important for our physical health but it’s also a vital part of our mental health by fighting depression and building self-esteem. Another important key to good overall mental and physical health is good sleep habits. It’s all too easy to lose track of time in bed using social media and go to bed late, but the blue light from electronic screens has been proven to make it more difficult to fall asleep.
How To Make a Change
The good news is you don’t have to quit social media altogether to lessen its effects on mental health. A 2018 study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology set out to show whether or not social media played a role in mental health. While the study group was small (143 undergrads) the results were clear. Limiting social media usage to 30 minutes or less per day led to significant reductions in loneliness and depression after only 3 weeks. By cutting back on social media usage, you can greatly improve your mental health and you’ll likely find you have a lot more time on your hands as well.
If you’re suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, Gateway TMS may be able to help. TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is an effective treatment for Depression that may be used in patients who can’t find relief from symptoms using antidepressants. TMS is a therapy that uses strong magnets to stimulate the area of the brain associated with depression, allowing the patient to achieve a reduction or complete remission for the symptoms. If you suffer from Depression and medication isn’t working, call GatewayTMS today at (314)909-8487 and find out if TMS is right for you.