Revolutionary, it could change the world, and mind-blowing were some phrases used to describe social media when it first came out. People were finally able to connect personally with their loved ones who lived miles away or on the other side of the world by engaging in pictures and videos showing off their new home or new life. We all thought it would be revolutionary but has it always been as great as we once thought it would be? Social media has started to affect our mental health and well-being, lowering self-esteem and assisting in eating disorders. What happened between it being revolutionary and now? Here are some health effects of time spent using social media.
Too much times spent using social media can be detrimental to your health. So much so that researchers have created a scale related to Facebook addiction called the Berge Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS). The scale uses six different criteria to measure levels of Facebook addiction. Some examples include, “you spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook and planning how to use it”. The scale also uses words like “often” and “very
often” to get users to rate their time and experiences with Facebook. If four out of the six criteria are used frequently, then a Facebook addiction is present. Facebook is described by users to be used for things such as gaining attention and boosting self-esteem. However, Facebook does not always have such positive affects on people, unfortunately, sometimes the opposite happens and that is where we begin to have a problem.
Stress and eating disorders
Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have recently led to negative physical effects such as eating disorders and high levels of stress in high school students and college students. These negative effects come from the fact that people want to share their positive experiences but hide their negative ones. For example, the Facebook posts I put up will, most of the time, be happy, fun experiences. I love to post about my trips and fun weekends. However, the hard here is that I do not post mid-week struggles. I don’t want to shout out to the world if I’m having a bad day, I would rather conceal it. This is where the harm lies. If everyone only thinks my life is happy and great, that’s not real life. It makes others think less of themselves as if they don’t have as great of a life as mine… which is not true AT ALL! This sad downward spiral has led to these sad disorders.
How to improve?
We get it, this is sad and depressing, but how can we fix it?
Put it down
Did you hear that? Put. It. Down. If you’re talking with another person, lay your phone down. Engage in a human conversation of reading body language and facial expressions. Trust me, its much better and easier to get their point than trying to read into a text or Twitter post of plain words. A good rule of thumbs to keep in mind is to only use your phone if you could pretend to talk on it, and not be rude. For example, if my friend or co-worker is trying to talk to me, I would think to myself, would it be rude to be talking to someone on the phone right now? An actual call? Of course it would! Not that I would actually talk on the phone, but texting, surfing social media, or even checking my email is just as rude to engage in while someone is carrying on a conversation with you as talking on the phone. Keep that in mind.
A 19-year-old Instagram star quit social media and made a huge impact. Since then, she has encouraged everyone to know that “social media is not real life.” She has also launched her own website called Let’s Be Game Changers in order to inform others how destructive trying to gain approval online can really be.
Food for thought…
It is so easy to get caught up in social media. Trying to keep up with friends, family, and fashion has become almost a full-time job. It is so easy to only post things that flatter you, make you look good, or make your life look easy. We have all fallen guilty of posting the “best” picture. I encourage everyone to take a step back and see how this is impacting others. Take time away from social media to spend real time with friends and family.