Health Effects of Time Spent Using Social Media

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Image via Colorful Hearing

We’ve all seen it before, a group of people sitting together but no one is talking because everyone is glued to their phone.  For many people, social media has become a part of their daily routine.  Have you ever wondered how too much social media use can affect your health?  I’ve told you all about the wonders of social media, now I will share with you some of the health affects of social media.

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Image via Armada Medical

 

Health Effects

Don’t get me wrong, social media can be a great tool for you and your health organization, but like with most things, it needs to be consumed in moderation.  The average American spend 7.6 hours per month using social media sites.  Using social media can cause the following health effects:

Low Self-Esteem

It is common for people to present an idealized version of their life on social media. Everyone wants to post pictures of them out having fun with friends, not at home alone reading a book. This representation of an idealized life causes some people to make comparisons to their own life, which can lead to low self-esteem.  Social media users may begin to think that everyone else’s life is more exciting and worthwhile than their own.

Recently, studies have shown that college students are reporting record levels of stress and becoming less confident about their level of emotional and mental stability.  People tend to hide their negative emotions and broadcast their happy ones through social media causing people to feel “less than” or insecure.  The psychological effects of comparing ourselves to others can result in low self-esteem.

 

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Image via Google

Body Image

Social media is helping to fuel eating disorders and negative body image.  Sites such as Instagram and Facebook that are very image-driven are contributing to people having a negative body image.  Social media sites are giving people that are pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia a global platform to share images and ideas.  Hashtags such as #thinstagram promote “ultra-thin” images and may make others feel inadequate or not skinny enough.

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Image via Instagram

As you can see in the image above, the girl featured is clearly already very thin but says in the caption that now she is “slightly less of a whale”.  Studies show the more time teenage girls spend of Facebook, the higher their risk of developing negative body image and eating disorders.  Instagram is currently trying to help by banning certain hashtags that encourage eating disorders.  Clicking certain hashtags will lead to a link to the website of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).

Anxiety

We’ve all felt it before, the pressure to check your phone as soon as you hear a buzz.  With so many different social media sites, some people are feeling pressure to make themselves available 24/7.  Studies have found that teenagers who engage in social media at night could be damaging their sleep and increasing their risk of anxiety and depression.

The pressure to always look perfect on social media and the feeling of missing out when not on social media also both contribute to the anxiety caused by social media.  In a recent survey, 55% of users said they felt “worried or uncomfortable” when they were unable to log onto their social media accounts.

Social Interactions

Hello…hey….over here….I’m talking to you!  This is exactly what it feels like to try to have a conversation with someone who is constantly on their phone.  The need to be connected all the time can take away from the ability to connect with people who are right in front of us.  One guy did a little experiment to see what happened when he stopped using his phone around others for a week.  He found that it caused others to put their phone away and people were more willing to have a conversation.

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Image via Code Canyon

Wrapping It Up

As I’ve said in all of my posts, social media is an impactful tool for your health organization.  It is a great way to get your message out and reach a wide audience. As a social media user, it is all about balance.  I encourage you to be aware of how much you are using social media so it does not negatively impact your health.  Put the phone down every once in awhile and be sure to keep in mind that what others are posting is the idealized version of their life, not necessarily the reality.

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