Social media has changed the world. Friends are easier to communicate, communities are easier to connect and updates are easier to share. Behind this progress, however, is a less social side to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Researchers have found that using social media obsessively causes anxiety, depression, ADHD, impulsive disorder, problems with mental functioning, paranoia, and even loneliness.
This is concerning - especially when one considers that the average person spends nearly two hours a day using social media, which amounts to 5 years and 4 months in a lifetime. So, with this in mind, let’s explore three ways users can maintain their mental health while using the platforms which have become so intrinsic to modern life.
Tip 1: Assess what you actually need from these platforms.
Users need to understand what they are curating for, what the purpose for each platform is, and why they are choosing to engage. Perhaps it is for inspiration, brand building, or just for family and friends - whatever the case may be, it is integral for the user to understand what value they are drawing from the platform. Without this intention, time-wasting is almost certain to develop.
Discern what you are using each platform for - and use them accordingly
Tip 2: Set boundaries and take breaks.
Sure, this is perhaps easier said than done, but users must be careful not to fall into the trap of social media overuse. Set a daily target and stick to it.
This could be 10 minutes or 2 hours. The number itself does not matter - what does matter is knowing your limit. This is important because social media algorithms are established to make it so you do not know your limits. The content is curated specially for you, making overuse more likely. Therefore, setting boundaries and taking breaks from social media help to give power back to you - the user.
Tip 3: Keep up with regular feed housekeeping.
Users should not be afraid to delete, block, mute and unfollow other users who negatively impact their social media experience. Social media feeds are curated especially for each and every one of us - so, do not be afraid to let the algorithm know what you do and do not want to see.
There are tools in the social media toolbox for a reason. Social media should be a place where you feel comfortable and where you can be social. Consciously consuming and curating your feeds will go a long way to ensuring healthy interaction between user and platform.