What is the Impact of Social Media on Health?
Apr 25, 2019
Many of us check at least one of the social media platforms every day—often several times a day. But emerging research shows we may need to pause and consider: what is the impact of social media on our health and well-being?
Let’s examine the positives and negatives.
Positive Effects of Social Media On Health
There’s one clear benefit of social media and the internet: connection.
We’re more connected than we’ve ever been before. It’s now possible to see the face of a family member who lives thousands of miles away and keep up with what’s going on in the lives of all our friends.
Because of social media, the world has expanded and exposed us to different perspectives and a variety of people. Research shows loneliness affects three out of four Americans and may even reduce life expectancy. Being able to connect with others we relate to, around the world, may help us feel less lonely.
That being said, there are some real concerns about the impact of social media on our health and well-being. Here’s what you need to know.
The Negative Impact of Social Media
Being so connected through social media and our phones can alter how we see the world—and ourselves. Several potential physical and mental health consequences related to social media have become apparent in recent years. Here are the most common ones.
1. Comparison and FOMO
Fear of missing out, also known as FOMO, is a common effect of social media. In other words, it can cause us to feel as if we’re missing out on good emotions or experiences that other people have.
Most of us only share the positives of our lives on social media. While this is understandable, it can present a skewed image of life that makes it seem like life should be great all the time.
Of course, we all have trials and tribulations that aren’t shown online. But when social media updates are at the forefront of our days, our brains can develop the narrative that everyone is better off than we are. This can cause stress, anxiety, and even depression over time.
2. Body Image
Platforms like Instagram are full of celebrities and “fitness inspiration” with all the right lighting and angles. It can distort our reality and create an unrealistic standard for beauty and body size. This is an especially concerning effect of social media on teens and other impressionable age groups.
3. Disrupted Sleep
Viewing lit phone screens and scrolling through social media feeds at all hours may negatively affect sleep quality. And sleep is so important for living a healthy life.
See also: Sleep Factors Capsules
4. Social Media Addiction
We know habits like drinking alcohol and smoking can become addictions, but social media too? Yep. For at least some of us, there is some evidence social media may present addiction-like issues.
Social media addiction may keep us from living in the present moment and enjoying the real life (and real relationships!) in front of us. Living online has a negative impact on our mental health. It may even contribute to a sedentary lifestyle if we shun normal social or physical activity for staying home online.
How to Use Social Media Mindfully
If you’re concerned about the impact of social media on your own health, here are some tips:
- Take regular breaks from social media, whether that’s spending days, weeks, or months away or only checking it at certain times during the day.
- Be mindful of how checking social media makes you feel. Ask yourself questions like “does this activity enrich my life?” and “what are my intentions for checking this site?”
- Prioritize real-life relationships. Make more time for getting coffee with a friend, joining a local activity group, or connecting with family.
Social media certainly has its place but, like anything in life, there is a limit. What’s your limit? Find out what’s best for you by using social media mindfully and tuning in to how it affects your mental and physical health on a daily basis.