How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health
Guest Post by Daniela McVicker
We live in a time where social media has taken over our everyday lives. Both older and younger generations constantly use their phones to communicate with friends and family, as well as entertain themselves — and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are playing a very important role in all of these actions.
While social media can help connect people, improve information sharing, and provide hours of entertainment, there are also many negative aspects connected with their usage. Famous people can promote unhealthy standards which an average person would never be able to achieve and sustain. Taking this into consideration, here are some of the ways in which social media can affect your mental health.
It Can Promote Interaction and Create Friendships.
For people who are lonely, the internet can provide them with a social circle they most likely don’t have in real life. As social media is concentrated around accounts which promote certain types of content, it is a lot easier to find other people with similar likes and interests.
Coming in contact with people who share your interests can help you feel more confident about your choices and help improve your mood. Talking about things you enjoy and learning interesting things from people with similar tastes will certainly help your mental state improve.
While the internet can limit face-to-face contacts between people, it can help those who are lonely feel like they belong and help them have someone to talk to when they need it. While many online friendships and relationships don’t allow people to meet in real life, it is still a great opportunity for human interaction for people who are shy, ill, or home-bound.
It Can Also Make Users Feel Isolated.
At the same time though, no matter how many friends someone has online, they cannot really replace the experience of having real-life friends to spend time with. Online friendship is limited by the distance the screens create between the users, and even though you can Skype and call the other person easily, you are still not actually spending physical time together.
This can make a social media user feel isolated and even feel like they’re not worthy of having real-life friends. The reality is that for most people, opening up to a stranger online is much easier than striking up a conversation with someone in an everyday life scenario.
A good way to view online friendships is as an opportunity for improving your social skills and finding new ways to strike up a conversation with people who have similar interests to you in everyday life. Since you won’t have the pressure of replying to the other person immediately, you will be able to teach yourself how to pick your words better and be more social in an easier way. This will definitely help boost your mental health.
It Can Make Users Compare Themselves to Unrealistic Images.
Another reason why social media can affect a person’s mental health is that almost every platform tends to support and promote unrealistic images of perfection. Social media influencers have become very popular in our day and time and are loved, supported and followed by millions of users.
Platforms such as Instagram tend to present users with social media influencers who always look perfect, use the most expensive beauty and clothing items, and appear to just be living a dream life. The reality is that their lives are not as perfect as they appear to be online.
For example, most of the pictures people post on social media have been retouched or altered so that the users hide their own imperfections from the world. Or they only post their very best pictures or the ones that make it look as if their lives are perfect: perfect family, lots of friends, always looking perfect, etc. For younger generations that have not yet come to terms with the fact that what they see online may not be what the person is really like or what their life is really like, this can have devastating consequences on their self image.
This can affect their mental health negatively by making them obsessed with chasing an image that does not really reflect reality. Working towards self-improvement is a great thing, but setting achievable and realistic goals is most important for one’s mental and physical well-being.
It Can Provide a Source of Support in Difficult Situations
Have you ever wondered if there are other people out there that might be going through a similar situation as you? Whether that has to do with a chronic illness, a relationship issue, or anything else that you might think of, the internet is bound to provide you with a forum on social media platforms targeted toward people who struggle with the same issue you do.
A great example is a Facebook group for people who want to support each other and get support on their weight loss journeys. Not only are they great sources of education for the people struggling with losing weight, but they also provide the participants with a social circle which will always be there to support them and help them keep moving on their weight loss journeys.
No matter what the issue, being part of a supportive online community can help the person improve themselves while also improving their mental health. Finding people who go through the same problems as you is very difficult or even impossible in day-to-day life, so the online support group can give them the motivation they need to feel better and start improving themselves and the way they view the world around them.
The Bad and the Good of Social Media Platforms.
While social media platforms tend to promote unrealistic images and set high expectations for their users, they can also offer a plethora of benefits. There are many people out there who are lonely or isolated and can benefit greatly from feeling like they are part of a group and have some online friends they can talk to when things are rough.
Social media platforms can affect users’ mental health both positively and negatively but in most cases, this effect is related to the personality of the user as well as the way they use their social media accounts.
Daniela McVicker is an editor for Topwritersreview. She is also an experienced writer with a degree in social psychology from Durham University. Daniela is primarily focused on writing about self-improvement. She has authored a number of insightful and motivating articles like “Making The Right Choices Every Day” and “7 Steps To Open Yourself To New Opportunities & Possibilities”.