The Impact of Social Media on Our Mental & Physical Health20 Sep, 2022
The booming social media apps can directly affect users mental health. Here's detailed information on how social media can affect mental and physical health
The Wave of Social Media
In the past two decades, we have witnessed the massive growth of social media and how it has taken over our lives. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp have become part of the daily routine. They have evolved from being simply social networking sites to a source of income for many. They have transformed our lifestyle completely; our eyes are glued to a screen right from the moment we wake up in the morning till the end of the day. This addictive pattern of use is present across all age groups and directly affects our health and wellness.
Social media has an overwhelming impact on our physical and mental health, this is explained ahead.
Quick Read Section
- Excessive social media usage significantly affects health and well-being
- How social media affects mental health:
- Low self-esteem and distorted body image
- Anxiety and Depression
- Sleep disruption and memory loss
- How social media affects physical health:
- Somatic symptoms - headaches, back pain, chest pain
- Vision – Macular degeneration
- Higher levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
- Tips for moderating daily consumption: Avoid starting your day with your phone, set up screen time limits on your device, use your device for short intervals with longer breaks, and turn your notifications off
Social Media and Mental Health
We are exposed to a sea of content on a daily basis. Our brain is constantly processing the information it receives day and night with little time to rest. As your daily screen time rises, the excessive exposure to information has its repercussions on your mental health and well-being. Some of these are listed below:
- Low self-esteem and Distorted body image: Particularly common among teenagers; the age group most active on social media platforms. Teens are exposed to unrealistic beauty standards through airbrushed/edited pictures of models online which builds on to their insecurities and leads to low self-esteem.
- Anxiety and Depression: Excessive social media use has led to the rise in symptoms of anxiety and depression among teens, young adults, and millennials. There is an increase in feelings of inadequacy as people only share the highlights of their life online – making you feel you are not good enough. The constant pressure of maintaining an online presence can get taxing as well.
- ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD also arises from prolonged screen time. Studies have shown that an increase in the number of hours spent on social media affects attention span and concentration which can further lead to ADHD.
- Isolation: It is ironic that the platforms that are meant to make you more social end up secluding you of from the world. Reports suggest that high use of Facebook and Instagram leads to an increase in feelings of loneliness.
- Sleep disruption: The addictive algorithm of social media platforms affects your sleeping habits; it makes you stay up late at night endlessly scrolling. It also affects the quality of your sleep.
Social Media and Physical Health
Everything that influences your mind affects your body as well. Excessive use of social media has the following physical implications:
- Somatic symptoms (headaches, back pain, chest pain): Studies on prolonged screen time suggest that over time, social media use leads to frequent doctor visits and increased complaints of headaches, back aches, and chest pain.
- Vision – Macular degeneration: Spending 6-8 hours behind screens on a daily basis has a considerable impact on your eyesight. The blue light from screens damages the retina and leads to poor eyesight. It also increases the risk of cataract at a young age.
- Higher levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP): Research shows that increased social media use leads to higher levels of the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) which is an indicator chronic inflammation that leads to serious illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
There is enough evidence to support the fact that higher screen time severely affects our health and wellness. The solution for dealing with addictive patterns of social media use isn’t to completely cut off screens from our lives – it only requires moderation.
It is recommended to make small changes in your daily habits such as: turning your notifications off, setting up a daily screen time limit on your device and taking breaks between prolonged use of your phone. As you adopt these changes, over time you will notice a considerable change in your health and well-being.
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