6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health

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Health experts believe sitting like smoking is harmful to health. Regarding the number of illnesses and the number of deaths associated with inactivity, sitting is one of the worst disasters that can affect our health. But worse, what we do when we sit down; Imagine devoting valuable minutes of leisure time to social media. For some people, these minutes turn into hours. Various studies have shown that addiction to social media is one of the worst habits that people in the community are confronted with in terms of social psychology. In this article, we will examine six of the effects that social networks have on our mental health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against the negative effects of social media on children and adolescents; Children in this space face the potential of “Cyberbullying ” and “Facebook depression”. Adults of different generations, of course, also face these dangers. Various studies have shown that social networks are detrimental to mental health, some of which are mentioned below.

  • It’s addictive

Experts have yet to agree on whether social networking and Internet addiction is a real phenomenon; However, there is some evidence that these two types of addiction are real. 

In one study, the results of past research on “psychological characteristics, personality, and social network use” were reviewed. Researchers conclude that “Facebook addiction disorder” is likely to be real. Because of the addictive criteria, such as disregard for personal life, mental inclination, escaping the facts, temperament and mood changes, tolerance and concealment of addictive behaviors are also seen in people who overuse social media. Scientists also found that the motivation for using social networks excessively varied depending on the circumstances. Introverts and extroverts people use social media for a variety of reasons. Some also tend to these networks because of narcissism. This, of course, requires separate investigations. 

Other research has also confirmed that some people tend to be isolated. Studies conducted at the University of Swansea a few years ago show that some withdrawal symptoms are seen in people who quit the Internet. This is not just about social networks and covers all models of excessive use of the Internet. 

Further research shows that when people do not use the Internet, they experience some small but measurable physiological effects. Phil Reed, a lead author of the study, said: “We’ve known for a long time that people who are highly dependent on digital devices experience anxiety when they leave, but we are now seeing that these psychological effects are caused by real changes in people’s psyche.” It is not yet clear whether these effects are also due to the use of social media; however, there is much evidence to support this claim.

  • More grief and less health

Evidence has shown that the more we use social media, the sadder we become. Research from a few years ago showed that using Facebook was associated with a momentary decrease in happiness and a decrease in life satisfaction. As the amount of daily use of Facebook increased, the two variables decreased in the same proportion.

Researchers believe that Facebook creates a state of social isolation that does not exist in other individual activities. In appearance, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for meeting needs and it does so through instant communication. Recent findings have shown that engaging with Facebook can have negative consequences for young people; Young people who need to be successful in social relationships with a healthy mindset and spirituality, instead of using Facebook and social networks, create the opposite effect and weaken themselves. The results of further studies show that excessive use of social networks is associated with a broader level of social isolation.

A team of researchers examined the length of time users have used social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler, Wayne, Snapchat and Reddit with its relationship with social isolation. The results showed that more use of these social networks created more isolation in individuals. And perceived social isolation is one of the worst things for us, mentally and physically.

  • Comparing our lives with others is mentally unhealthy

Many people think of social isolation as a result of repeated use of social networks; While they may not face such a problem. However, as mentioned above, if people consider themselves to be socially isolated, they face one of the worst mental problems. Comparison is one of the most important causes of this feeling of social isolation. By looking at the latest posts from our friends and acquaintances, we unconsciously compare ourselves with them and judge the quality of our lives.

One study looked at how we make comparisons to other posts, in “upward” or “downward” directions—that is, feeling that we’re either better or worse off than our friends. To put it simply, researchers wanted to know whether we were better or worse off by comparing ourselves. The results of these studies showed that both types of comparisons made people feel bad. The interesting thing is that in real life, we only feel bad if we know the lives of others better than ourselves. But the results of these studies show that in the world of social networks, any comparison is associated with depressive symptoms.

  • It can lead to jealousy—and a vicious cycle

Almost all of us know that comparing social networks leads to jealousy. Most people admit that their friends’ holidays in the tropics or the polite behavior of their children make them jealous. Studies have shown that social networks stimulate jealousy.

The author of one study examining jealousy and other negative feelings about Facebook activity wrote: “This amount of jealousy that Facebook alone creates is astounding. This shows that Facebook provides the necessary conditions for nurturing ugly emotions.”

Researchers also believe that Facebook and other social networks can create a cycle of viciousness. Feeling jealous makes people try to better the look of their lives; For this reason, posts share different aspects of their lives, and this cycle continues.

The relationship between jealousy and depression caused by Facebook was also examined. As a result of these studies, jealousy plays an important role in the relationship between depression and Facebook; Better yet, when the jealousy is controlled, Facebook is no longer depressing. However, jealousy has the greatest impact on creating depression from Facebook.

  • We get caught in the delusion of thinking it will help

Unfortunately, even though we know that social media can make us feel uncomfortable, we still go for it. This is probably due to an effect known as a “forecasting error”. We think that using social media, like taking drugs, can help us; But it is not, and ultimately, it causes us to feel unpleasant. The result of these states causes an error in the ability to forecast our reactions.

In one study, people’s feelings after using Facebook and their perceptions of their emotions were examined. The results of these studies, like other studies, showed that people almost always feel bad after using this social network, compared to people doing other activities. The interesting thing is that these people think they feel better after using Facebook. Of course, that feeling is not real at all and resembles other patterns of addiction.

  • More friends on social don’t mean you’re more social

Research done a few years ago shows that having more friends on social networks doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better social life. As it seems, our brains can recognize a certain number of people as friends. Besides, individuals must have real social interactions to form a friendship; it is not enough to have a virtual relationship. 

So, you don’t become a social person by working on social networks like Facebook. Various studies have shown that feeling lonely is associated with a large number of physical and mental illnesses; For this reason, establishing genuine social relationships plays a very important role in people’s health. The times you spend with your virtual friends are not as therapeutic and relaxing as their real friends.

Of course, this is not to say that social networks have no advantage. One of the most important benefits of these networks is communication over long distances. Also, it helps us find people we haven’t had information for many years. But using social media to fill leisure time or when you’re not feeling well is not a good idea. Studies have shown that staying away from Facebook, even in the short term, helps improve our mental health. If you’re feeling brave, we suggest staying away from social media and seeing the results. But if you need to use these networks, at least follow the moderation.

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