Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great for staying in touch with family and friends. But spending too much time on these sites can take a toll on your mood and well-being. Here’s how to keep social media from bringing you down.
The first step is understanding the risks of interacting with social media. In one study, people who were active on seven or more social media sites were about three times as likely to be depressed or anxious, compared with those on two or fewer sites.
In an ironic twist, spending too much time on social media has also been linked to loneliness. Another study showed that people who used social media for more than two hours per day were twice as likely to feel socially isolated as those who used it for less than a half hour.
Signs You May Have a Problem
Here are some red flags that your social media use has gotten out of control:
- Spending more and more time on social media
- Feeling stressed-out by constantly checking social media apps
- Getting less work done due to social media use
- Feeling as if your life doesn’t measure up to what others post
- Preferring online relationships to in-person ones
Specifically, for teens, a 2015 study by the nonprofit Common Sense Media found that their average daily screen time was six hours and 40 minutes.
“Video games, YouTube, social media and television are all incredibly addictive,” says Stephany Godfrey, DO, a family medicine doctor with Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group. “This is especially concerning knowing how the negative impact social media can take a toll on someone’s mental and emotional state.”
How to Have a Healthy Social (Media) Life
To keep your social media use in check, limit yourself to no more than 30 minutes per day. Consider turning off notifications on your phone.
When you do check social media, avoid comparing yourself to other people. From a distance, their lives may look amazing and problem-free. Remind yourself that you’re only seeing a tiny sliver of their lives in their social media posts.
Enjoy your online connections. But don’t let them detract from your offline relationships. When it comes to boosting your well-being, Facebook is no substitute for face-to-face time.
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