The popularity (and most recent season) of “Stranger Things” has made us reminiscent of times that were simpler, when kids could ride bikes, hang out at each other’s houses, and even discover an astonishing upside-down world that mimicked their town. Communication wasn’t constant, nor were we concerned about every single moment of the lives of others.
Forty years later, the innocence of the 1980s is gone, in large part due to the extraordinary rise in the use of social media. Although social media platforms were introduced in the late 1970s as a way to allow users to socialize with each other online, they didn’t really gain popularity until the early 2000s. MySpace, which launched in 2002, competed with Facebook, which launched in 2004. Both platforms were easy to navigate, made it easy to interact with others, and to share photos. Thus began the social media tsunami that changed the way we live.
Changes the World
We have been changed culturally by the rise of social media influencers who show us perfectly curated versions of their homes, vacations, and families while touting the indispensability of greige and beige, but these images create a false representation of the “perfect” lives of others. The careful curation of brief seconds of another’s existence makes we mere mortals feel, somehow, less than. Insecure. Insubstantial.
Social media is particularly difficult for teenagers to navigate. A 2016 study performed by Common Sense Census discovered that teenagers (ages 13-18) spend nine hours a day using some kind of social media. Adults don’t spend as many hours as teens but have the same addiction to social media that teens do. Researchers from Harvard University conducted a study which found that a social media “like” or other response creates a dopamine zap that makes us feel good in that moment, but it is only a fleeting feeling.
Social Media and Mood
Many studies indicate that excessive social media usage negatively impacts mood. They have found that heavy social media users experience:
- Greater loneliness
- Feelings of isolation
- An increased likelihood of depression
- Online bullying
- “FOMO” or a fear of missing out
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Increased feelings of doom from constant exposure to news
In other words, social media usage can cause anywhere from mild to significant mental health symptoms in some people who use it often. This detrimental effect on mood and mental health may be helped by decreasing social media usage.
Some ways to decrease social media use include:
- Using social media only during specific, short periods of time
- Turning off connectivity when you’re spending time with family and friends
- Turning off notifications so you’re not distracted by the constancy of them
- Not scrolling social media late at night when you should be sleeping
Some ways to help you disconnect from social media and reconnect to life are:
- Going outside to enjoy the day
- Getting some exercise
- Meeting in person with friends, family, or other safe people
- Engaging in a creative activity
If You Need Support – Meisel NP Psychiatry is Here
These tips may or may not work to minimize the effects of social media on your mood. If you’re in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn and need assistance in managing the effects of social media on your mood and well-being, Meisel NP Psychiatry provides kind, compassionate mental health support. We also provide virtual mental health services for those in New York state, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
We offer evaluations and diagnosis, medication management, and therapeutic techniques that affirm and support you. Contact us at 740-777-6184 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help navigating the challenges of social media use and its effect on your life.
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