While technology can be incredibly useful, it’s important to be mindful of how you use it. Excessive social media use can lead to increased feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Here are some ways technology can negatively affect your mental health.
Social media platforms make it easier for bullies to hide behind the comfort of their screens. Studies reveal that over 36.5 percent of people have personally experienced cyberbullying and 87 percent have witnessed cyberbullying happen. These platforms are common places that people experience hurtful comments and abuse which can ultimately lead to anxiety, depression, and many other mental health concerns.
Social Media Comparisons
While social media can be an invaluable tool to stay connected with friends and loved ones, it can also be pretty damaging. People tend to post highlights of their life, filtered photos, and tend to leave out the bad. Comparing ourselves to others on social media can bring on feelings of insecurity and jealously, even though what you’re seeing is not exactly reality. This unhealthy habit of comparing ourselves and feeling inferior can ultimately lead to depression or anxiety.
Technology can be a very useful tool, however, when we rely on it too often, it can keep us from living in the present. Research has found the average American checks their phone at least 46 times a day. It’s very common a group of friends will be together and every person is on their phone instead of being in the moment and enjoying their time together. Overuse of technology and mobile devices can also make us less productive in other aspects of our life.
When we spend so much time online instead of fostering real-life connections, we end up feeling lonely and becoming socially isolated. Social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook can bring on FOMO (fear of missing out). Social media is exaggerated and it creates an illusion as though people are doing more exciting things than you are. This can negatively affect your self-esteem bringing on feelings of insecurity, depression, and anxiety.
Some people use their phones as avoidance coping. Instead of dealing with their problems, an individual who practices avoidance coping will avoid feelings or issues they may have by turning to technology such as social media as a distraction. The problem with this is, this person is only repressing their feelings which can ultimately intensify feelings of anxiety or stress in the long run.
Live for Likes
Some people get so wrapped up in their social media persona that they become very disconnected from reality. Those that become so immersed in social media are never really living in the present and enjoying the moment because they’re too focused on getting the best photo, or story to post. Getting “likes” on social media photos and posts trigger the reward center in our brain, making us feel good. However that high is short-lived, and this can lead to a very unhealthy cycle.
If technology and social media is affecting aspects of your life or your mental health, it’s important to reevaluate your habits and find a healthy balance. Here are some ways to create harmony between reality and your life online for an overall healthier well-being.
- Limit Online Time – If social media or excessive technology use is affecting you negatively, it could be beneficial to do a little digital detox. Be mindful of how you use your phone. Try setting limits of when you use your phone, turn off social media notifications, and don’t bring your phone to bed.
- Offline Connections – Don’t let virtual connections replace real-life ones. Reach out to friends to hang out face to face or join an in-person class or club to facilitate in-person connections.
- Be Mindful – Be aware of what you are doing when you pick up your phone. Many of us open our phones and social media apps simply out of habit. Check your motivations next time you go to open a phone and try to change your focus onto something more productive instead.
- Get Support – If technology has had a negative impact on your mental health, you are not alone. It’s important to seek help. A licensed therapist can provide you with support and strategies to overcome any problems you may have and improve your mental health. Visit https://www.mytherapist.com/advice/counseling/ to learn more about connecting with a licensed therapist.