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Why Disconnecting From Social Media is Good for Your Mental Health
Since at least 2013-2014, psychologists have been sounding the alarm about a mental health crisis on today’s college and university campuses. Evidence suggests that today’s college-age students suffer from higher levels of stress and psychopathology than ever before. That same article in Psychology Today claims that of the campus counselling centre directors surveyed in their study, 95 percent felt the number of students with significant psychological problems was a growing concern.
The link between social media use and mental health
With social media consuming so much of our time and lives in the 21st century, a lot of research has gone into determining how that fixation affects us psychologically. The results – it is not hard to predict – were not comforting. If you are a university student and are wondering how you can foster good mental health throughout your postsecondary career, taking regular, scheduled breaks from social media can really help. Below are some of the reasons why and how.
Social media certainly is not all negative. Websites like Facebook are great for keeping in touch with friends and family members, especially those scattered across the globe, and provides a convenient multimedia platform for sharing humour, videos, and keeping one another up-to-date on daily life. However, it can, and frequently does involve a lot of unhealthy voyeurism and showboating. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are typically used to highlight the most enviable aspects of a person’s life. While we all know someone who takes to their social media to complain and look for sympathy, much of what you see on someone’s Facebook and Instagram accounts is carefully curated success.
People want others to view them and their lives favourably, and to appear as though everything in their lives is perfect. Baby showers, vacations, weddings, new cars, gifts, friends, parties…if you spend too much time comparing your own life to those of people you know on social media, it might start to feel like yours has some major deficiencies. This is known as Facebook envy, and it can have some serious mental health repercussions, including depression and anxiety. Take a break from peering into the heavily biased portrayals of other people’s lives, and you will be a much happier, mentally healthier person for it.
Face-to-face interaction builds empathy and strengthens human connections
With so much of our interacting done through a screen, it is no wonder that people are losing their ability to relate to and be social with their fellow human beings. Many people enjoy the convenience of screen-to-screen relationships and interaction because it is just easier. It requires less effort to rattle off a series of texts than to schedule a coffee date with a friend; it’s easier to back out of plans last minute using Facebook, than it is to hear and see the disappointment in a person’s face, and it is easier to say something rude and hurtful over social media than it is to directly confront a person.
Relying on social media for any and all communication is learned behaviour. While it is certainly necessary to use social media for some forms of communication (coordinating group meetings, talking to multiple people at the same time, etc.), there are many instances in our daily lives where we choose to use social media because we simply do not want to deal with another human being. Make a habit of avoiding social media communication at least a few times per day, and exercise emotional intelligence.
You might actually get some work done
A 2014 study from Baylor College found that male and female students spent, on average, 8 to 10 hours per-day on social media. Postsecondary, while in many respects is still not a full-fledged adult life, is meant to be treated as a full-time endeavour. It requires majority of your time, especially between attending classes, reading, writing, and studying. That is not to say you should not make time for other aspects in your life, but spending a third (or more) of your waking hours on social media is definitely going to reflect your performance in your education.
Wherever you are going to school, and however much you are paying, you are paying to be there (or your family is). Social media is addictive. The desire to see what is going on in the lives of people you know, and the need to advertise your own is a powerful one. Fighting it means showing some self-restraint. If you just cannot bring yourself to put the phone down when you should be preparing for that midterm exam, there are available apps (like “SelfControl”) which allow you to block certain websites for a set period of time. It makes sense that it would be easier to find the motivation to study when things like Facebook and Instagram are temporarily blocked.
Human beings did not naturally evolve to adapt with something like social media. The mind-altering power of Facebook and Instagram (both the obsession and the neuroses) really do impact your quality of life, and can eat up thousands of hours of your time over the course of a year. It seems reasonable to speculate that modern people, at the end of their lives, will look back with regret on the tens-of-thousands of hours spent glued to their phone screens, obsessing over the lives of other people, and whatever trivialities they thought important at the time.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, perhaps even more so, because a compromised mind means happiness and satisfaction will always remain just out of reach. If you are struggling with your mental health at university, and feel like your coursework has become an impossible, soul-crushing task, reach out to Homework Help Global and let us take some of the burden off your hands.
Barr, S. (2018). “Six Ways Social Media Negatively Affects Your Mental Health.” The Independent. Retrieved from: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/social-media-mental-health-negative-effects-depression-anxiety-addiction-memory-a8307196.html
Henriques, G. (2014). “The College Student Mental Health Crisis.” Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/theory-knowledge/201402/the-college-student-mental-health-crisis
Wood, J. (2014). “College Students in Study Spend 8 to 10 hours Daily on Cell Phone.” Psych Central. Retrived from: https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/08/31/new-study-finds-cell-phone-addiction-increasingly-realistic-possibility/74312.htmlShare: