Approximately 7 in 10 Americans utilize a social media platform (e.g., TikTok, YouTube, Instagram). People spend approximately 2.5 hours on social media daily. Given the increasing popularity of social media platforms, researchers have turned their attention to the possible consequences of social media. Research indicates that there are benefits to social media use, including opportunities to facilitate social connections. In contrast, an excessive amount of social media use can contribute to negative outcomes, including increased sadness and stress. Given that social media is an integral part of our everyday lives, this article aims to highlight the benefits of social media use, negative consequences of problematic social media use, and ways to maintain healthy social media habits.
Social media use has been associated with a broad range of benefits, including:
- Opportunities to facilitate social connections
- Reduced isolation
- A sense of belonging and community
- Increased life satisfaction
- Increased opportunities for identity exploration
Research also indicates that young adults with mental health disorders (e.g., depression, schizophrenia) form online relationships and connect with other people on social media as often as young adults who do not have mental health disorders. This is important because young adults with mental health disorders have more difficulty developing in-person relationships. Therefore, social media provides an opportunity for young adults to connect with their peers and feel less isolated.
Problematic social media use includes not only a high frequency of social media use, but also “addiction-like symptoms” and difficulty with self-regulation. Problematic patterns of social media use can contribute to negative consequences, including:
- Increased comparison and body image dissatisfaction
- Increased risk of cyberbullying involvement
- Lower self-esteem
- Decreased life satisfaction and subjective well-being
Healthy Social Media Habits
Social media use can be a fun, social, and beneficial activity in moderation. Here are some suggestions that can help with maintaining healthy social media habits:
- Track how much time you spend on social media each day
- If you feel like you are spending too much time on social media, set a goal for how much time you want to reduce it by
- Turn off your phone during certain times of the day (e.g., while doing homework, having dinner, going to the gym, spending time with in-person friends)
- Prioritize time with in-person connections when possible
- Turn off social media notifications so that you can choose to engage with social media when you want to
- Keep devices out of the bedroom to avoid disrupting sleep
- Try to stop social media use an hour before bed
- Take a break from social media, especially if you notice yourself feeling sad or anxious about what you see online
Social media use can be linked to a variety of benefits, including increased social connections and a sense of belonging. However, social media use can become problematic if you are engaging in a high frequency of social media use and also have difficulty controlling social media use. Problematic patterns of social media use are tied to lower self-esteem and decreased life satisfaction. Given that social media is an integral part of society, it is important to maintain healthy social media habits, such as setting time limits and taking a break from social media.
If you or someone you know is struggling to engage maintain healthy social media habits, providers at Upside Therapy are here to help. If you are interested in services, please call 972-519-1692 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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