Too Much Social Media Can Bring Down Your Mood
By Paul Rothbart
Social media is the most popular way that people share their lives. Approximately 77 percent of all Americans have at least one social media account. They share photos, videos, short blurbs about what they're up to. It's a good way to keep in touch with family and friends as well as others who share our interests. That is the upside of social media. It can also be quite harmful to our mood, even to the point of exacerbating depression. Kept in moderation, it's a fun experience. But here are some things to be aware of about too much social media.
Research on Social Media and Depression
There has been a considerable amount of research on the connection between social media and depression. Despite some researchers arguing that people who are already depressed tend to reach out on social media, a recent study has found a causal link. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. The study discovered that using less social media lessens feelings of depression and loneliness. The researchers studied two groups of students. One group kept up their usual amount of social media usage for three weeks while the other gradually reduced it to 10 minutes per day. The group with reduced usage had better mental health outcomes.
Watching Others Instead of Doing
One of the major problems with social media is that some users spend far too much time watching others live their lives rather than going out and living their own. Feelings of jealousy or "fear of missing out" occur as a result. These feelings feed into loneliness and depression, increasing them. The social media user doesn't get the benefit of positive mood hormones that are produced when actually engaged in a fun activity.
Virtual Friendship Is Not the Same As Real Friendship
Many people use social media to meet and follow new "friends." In fact, some use their number of friends as a badge of success. While people do meet and enjoy interacting on social media with friendly, like-minded people, it is not as all the same as a real friend in the real world. Socializing face-to-face causes the brain to produce dopamine and serotonin, hormones that elevate mood. The same effect does not occur in a virtual relationship. You cannot even be sure if the online connection is actually who they say they are.
Social media can be a wonderful tool for interacting with others. However, relying on it as a sole means of socializing and spending hours a day perusing social media platforms can cause feelings of loneliness and exacerbate depression. Keep it moderate and get out there in the real world with real people having real experiences.
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