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The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health: Unveiling and Dealing with the Digital Dilemma

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Closer Look at the Influence of Social Media Platforms on Well-being

By: Jaira Draper, M.A., LPC-C

Edmond Family Counseling

It’s no secret that social media has embedded itself in our lives and changed the way we interact, exchange information, and see ourselves in a world driven by digital connectedness. However, there is growing worry about its effects on mental health behind the ‘highlight reel’. Recent research has explained the effects of excessive social media use on our health, motivating a closer look at the digital dilemma.

According to research, heavy social media use is associated with poor mental health outcomes. Social comparisons, idealized lives, and frequent exposure to curated information can all contribute to sadness, poor self-esteem, and depressive symptoms. Increased anxiety and problems with body image can be attributed to the pressure to fit in that is increased by online platforms and cultural expectations.

The situation is made worse by social media platforms' addictive qualities. Receiving likes, comments, and notifications can set off a dopamine-driven cycle that makes people want fast pleasure and validation, which encourages reliance and lessens genuine interaction with the outside world. As a result of this ongoing desire for validation, people may suffer from anxiety or FOMO (fear of missing out) when they aren't connected to the online world.

The number of incidents of cyberbullying and online abuse on social media platforms has also dangerously increased. These platforms' ability to provide anonymity may provide people with the confidence to act in a harmful way, which can result in psychological distress, social isolation, and in some cases, even self-harm. The relentless exposure to negative interactions can significantly impact one's mental health, contributing to a sense of vulnerability and eroding self-confidence.

So, is anyone doing anything about this, or are we all just not logging out? Some social media platforms have started putting policies in place to encourage better mental health practices because they understand the seriousness of the matter. Recent features such as time monitoring, notification management, and content filtering tools have been used to promote better online behaviors and lessen any potential harmful consequences. In addition, advocacy and mental health organizations aim to promote appropriate social media use and offer options for assistance.

However, it is also up to everyone individually to develop a healthy relationship with social media. Here are some things you can do to prioritize your mental health over social media:

Limit Screen Time: Set boundaries and allocate specific time for social media use. Excess screen time can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Curate Your Feed: Unfollow accounts that make you feel unhappy or trigger negative emotions. Follow accounts that promote positivity, inspiration, and well-being.

Practice Degital Detox: Take regular breaks from social media to recharge and focus on real-life activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

Practice Self-awareness: Become aware of your emotional responses while using social media. If you notice negative feelings while online, take a break, and engage in activities that foster relaxation and self-care.

Connect Authentically: Prioritize quality connections and engage in positive conversations rather than seeking validation through likes and comments. Avoid online arguments or engaging with negative content, instead try sharing your own experiences in a thoughtful manner.

As social media continues to evolve, so must our understanding of its impact on mental health. By fostering a collective effort between individuals, social media platforms, and mental health organizations, we can navigate the digital landscape with greater mindfulness and create a healthier, more supportive online environment.

Remember, your mental well-being is invaluable. Let us strive for balance in the digital age and prioritize our mental health over virtual validation.

Jaira Draper, M.A., LPC-C is a staff therapist at Edmond Family Counseling. Edmond Family Counseling is a non-profit organization. We may be reached at 405-341-3554 to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed professional counselors. Donations may be made to Edmond Family Counseling, 1251 N. Broadway, Edmond, OK 73034, or online @ www.edmondfamily.org by clicking the YELLOW DONATE button. Follow us on our Facebook Page @ Edmond Family Counseling for additional information regarding mental health awareness.

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