In 2022, it’s a rare person that doesn’t have social media. Whether for watching videos on YouTube or posting updates to Instagram, we use these platforms to connect, find common ground, and learn more about the things we’re interested in.
Our self-image is also heavily tied up in how we present ourselves online. It’s easy to become obsessed with our imperfections and to negatively compare ourselves to everyone, from old school friends to influencers.
But is it all bad?
A direct impact on our happiness
If there’s one thing we associate with Gen Z, it’s social media. Among 16-24 year-olds, it’s common to spend hours every day on these platforms. When ExpressVPN recently conducted research into this, they found that 100 percent of those surveyed had at least one social media account.
The obvious conclusion is that spending time on social media is enjoyable; otherwise, why would everyone be doing it? However, that same survey revealed that 86 percent of respondents felt social media directly impacted their happiness, and many felt anxiety around posting.
More shockingly, 20 percent said they’d need to be paid more than one million pounds to delete their most frequently used social media account permanently. That, if nothing else, demonstrates the depths of our reliance on this online world. If this is something you can relate to, you’re not alone.
How to have a healthy relationship with social media
While social media can negatively impact our mental health, it’s not all bad. It can also allow us to meet and converse with people who share our passions online and be a platform for education and learning.
The trick is to recognize its impact on you and learn how to use it most beneficially. That might include, for example, using the “hide likes” feature on Facebook and Instagram. The survey we linked to above found that doing this decreased anxiety around posting for 62 percent of people, stopping social media updates from feeling like a popularity contest.
In addition, limit the amount of time you spend on these platforms. A study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology discovered that spending 30 minutes or less daily scrolling through your social feeds can improve your mood and make you feel happier. Using the “do not disturb” feature outside this allocated time slot makes it easier to stick to this self-imposed time limit.
Be mindful about who you follow too. If certain people or pages make you feel inadequate, it’s okay to unfollow them. Instead, fill your feed with content that makes you happy and inspired or offers something useful or educational.
Finally, try to break the habit of scrolling through your socials before bed. Various studies have found the blue light our phones emit can negatively impact the quality and quantity of sleep we get. That causes us to feel tired and grumpy, further dragging down our mood and mental well-being.
When using social media, it’s essential to be mindful of how this impacts your health and happiness. Take control today to ensure your time online is uplifting rather than anxiety-inducing.