Today’s world is dominated by social media and it seems to be playing an ever increasing role in our lives.
Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare acknowledges that social media can give young adults a certain perception of life, that isn’t always reality.
“Social media is a window where people choose what they want to present to the world – whether this real or altered – and in many ways it can be a ‘false reality’.
It’s natural for an onlooker to make assumptions about others based on what they see online, but often those who are vulnerable cannot make this distinction, which can have a negative affect both on their mental health and their body image.” comments Dr Winwood.
“For some, being online is their main source of social interaction and, over time, this can turn out to be an isolating and lonely experience. And, whilst the ‘rewards’ of communicating online are instantaneous, this isn’t necessarily a good thing” he says.
Social media website Instagram has been rated as having the worst effects on teenagers’ sleep, body image and fear of missing out.
Ultimately with four of the five most popular forms of social media found to be harming young people’s mental health, it is important for young adults to realise that there is a world outside of the screen.
In 2016, seven young people who switched off from social media told the Guardian about the positive results they experienced. One said “I can live my life instead of trying to shape it into one that looks good online. I also have a lot more time now, and it’s easy enough to keep in touch with my friends in other ways.”
If you decide to have a social media holiday, here are Dr Winwood’s observations:
Suspend your accounts – suspending them for a week means you can take a break without the temptation to check for any new notifications.
Make an effort to meet up with friends face to face – you may find that cutting down on your social media time leaves a temporary void, so arrange to see friends and family personally and you’ll feel in touch when you’re off-line.
Enjoy the gift of renewed focus – think of all the occasions when your attention was split between checking social media and having a conversation or watching TV or walking along and just tune in to the moment of what you’re doing without the distraction.
Get an alarm clock – using your phone as an alarm can make it tempting to automatically check the online scene the minute you’re getting up. Having a separate alarm clock removes that temptation from arm’s reach.
If you find you crave social media try checking out apps designed to block certain sites at certain times of the day. This approach helps avoid that mindless checking and re-checking we all fall victim too.
This guest post was written by AXA PPP Healthcare. If you think you might be addicted to social media, find more tips and advice at AXA PPP healthcare’s Mental Health Centre or speak to one of its help at hand nurses online.