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Is Your Mental Health Being Impacted By Social Media?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hamline chapter.

Try thinking of one person you know that does not have Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or Facebook. Can you name one? It’s becoming extremely rare to find a 18-25 year old that doesn’t use any of these social media platforms. Pew Research Center has found that, out of 18-24 year olds, 78.1% use Instagram, 78% use Snapchat, 45% use Twitter, and 98% use Youtube. Almost one fifth of 18-25 year olds spend more than 7 hours a day on the internet. All in all, social media is continuing to grow to be a large part of our lives. This isn’t going to be a lecture––I know how it feels to be on your phone all the time, and I know how annoying it is to be preached at. Instead, here are some ways you can use social media in a healthy manner, and tips to keep an eye on your mental health as you consume social media.

When we scroll through social media, we often see only the polished bits of people’s lives. After all, we all get to choose which pictures to post and which videos to add to our story. It’s important to recognize this and process your own self worth. Comparing yourself to others becomes so easy with social media. Try a process like journaling or meditating to keep confidence in yourself.

You might see people going through a social media cleanse. This is where, for a specific amount of time, a person deletes their social media so they aren’t tempted to use it. This gives them more time to think and be productive, as well as improve their mental health. A social media cleanse is a good option if you feel completely overwhelmed and guilty about being addicted to social media. It may be really hard at first, but after a couple days, you may start to feel more free or more appreciative of present moments.

That being said, a cleanse isn’t for everyone. It may just make you anxious or disconnected. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to change your attitude about your social media. Think of Instagram as a personal museum of the fun things you experience in your life. It’s crucial to make staying connected with others on social media your main focus in using it, rather than using it to judge others or judge yourself. It’s easy to slip into negative habits, but try to remind yourself each time you use a social media app that you are going into it to catch up on what your friends are experiencing, and maybe even share some positivity. Positive self-representation can actually be a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy and it can be a way to remind yourself that you, too, are beautiful, amazing, and worth it.

There are benefits that come with social media, but it can be useful to change your perspective on how you use it. There is data that shows that more social media usage is linked to feeling socially isolated or judged. Try to put your phone away sometimes––especially when hanging out with other people! Just set it down, turn off the ringer, and don’t pick it up! It will help you feel more connected to the moment you are presently in, and in turn, it will help you feel more fulfilled with your social life. You could choose a specific day to not use social media at all, or at least turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ button once in a while. Talk to your friends about social media. I’m almost positive that they will have the same feelings toward it. Social media can be funny and helpful sometimes, but too often, it makes us feel controlled. Simply having a talk or arranging an agreement with your friends can help you overcome negative feelings toward social media together.

Keep a positive attitude. Whether you try a couple small things, a whole social media cleanse, or simply try to change your attitude about what you use social media for, keep your happiness and health as the primary focus! Remember, you’re doing this to make you feel more secure, fulfilled, and happy.

Emma Harrington is a first year at Hamline University studying English and Creative Writing. Besides writing, she enjoys singing in the A Capella Choir, dancing, running, and being outdoors.
Skyler Kane

Hamline '20

Creative Writing Major, Campus Coordinator for Her Campus, and former Editor and Chief for Fulcrum Journal at Hamline University