Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Is Social Media Negatively Impacting Your Life? Here’s How to Handle It
How often do you pick up your phone and browse social media just to fill up time? These days, social media is at our fingertips. One scroll turns into thirty minutes.
These platforms are designed to keep us on there as long as possible. Social media started out as a place to connect with loved ones, but has evolved into places for advertisers, influencers, and marketers to get our attention.
It is so easy to get into a habit of using these platforms compulsively and excessively; social media use can be so habitual that it might affect your life in unintended ways. Logging onto social media and seeing new notifications, likes, or comments can send a rush of dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure) to your brain. The problem is that the dopamine is temporary. And once it wears off, you might want to go back for more.
Unfortunately, chasing the quick gratification from dopamine hits leads to an overall lower level of happiness.
Is social media impacting your life in unintended ways?
Some signs that social media may be having a negative impact on your life:
Gets in the way of life (work, school, or relationships). Do you scroll on social media instead of working or engaging with others? Sometimes we allow social media to get in the way of learning, productivity, or relationships.
Feeds feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. Have you found yourself opening social media to check likes and comments? Or maybe you’ve seen others’ highlight reels of their activities, only to feel worse about yourself. These are common ways social media feeds low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
Disrupts sleep. Do you scroll on social media at night instead of getting rest? If scrolling on social media disrupts your sleep, you might want to consider your limits with social media each night.
The good news is, how you use social media can make a big difference on its impact on your life. You can change your relationship with social media to have a more positive impact on your daily life.
6 ways to make positive changes in the way you use social media:
Log onto social media with an intention. What is your intention when you log onto social media? Is it to connect with a friend? Take a couple moments to set an intention before you open the social media platform.
There’s an app for that. Use an app that monitors and controls the amount of time you spend on social media platforms. If you spend too much time on social media, set limits with how much time you spend on these platforms.
Turn off notifications. Does your phone light up every time you receive a like or comment? It might help you to turn off notifications on your phone.
Leave your phone in another room. Huge numbers of people scroll through social media instead of sleeping at night. Avoid joining this crowd! Put your phone out of reach - or better yet, another room when it’s time to rest. Yes, you'll still hear important phone calls, and yes, there are still "old school" alarm clocks available out there that work just as well.
Delete/edit social media apps on your phone. You can delete apps on your phone altogether. This way, if you really need to check the social media platform, you must do it from your laptop or computer.
Replace a social media habit with something new. Reach out to a friend, read a book (one with actual paper pages you can turn!), go for a walk. The key is to think about why you crave going on social media - and replace that habit with something that fills the same need.
Social media can help us to stay connected with loved ones. However, it can also lead to comparing ourselves to others, causing us to feel negative emotions. If you resonate with that, know that you are not alone!
Paying close attention to the way you use social media can help you to feel happier and get greater enjoyment out of life.