- Dr. Janet Grinstead
The Emotional Stress of Social Media
It is estimated that 3.1 billion people are social media users worldwide and 2.2 million users suffer from Internet & Social Media Addiction Syndrome. The average person spends 2 hours a day using social media and 9 hours per day for the average teen. Social media keeps the world connected and has quickly become the god of news, information, relationships, advertising, and the basic form of communication.
Symptoms of Social Media Addictions
The convenience of social media by way of mobile technology, gives the user
total access to multiple streams of information. On any given day this can begin
to overload the brain resulting in anxiety and/or depression. Anxiety, in its
simplest form, is the lack of ability to control or know what the outcome will be
on any particular situation, problem or life event.
There are different types of Anxiety disorders:
Panic disorder- Is when you feel terror that strikes at random. During this attack you may feel shortness of breath, have chest pains, sweaty palms or a feeling of having a heart attack.
Specific phobias- Is when you feel intense fear on a specific situations such as a fear of animals or water.
Generalized anxiety disorder- Is when you feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no tangible reason.
Social anxiety disorder is the most common disorder associated with social media syndrome. This form of anxiety is stimulated when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday situations. Your fixated about others judging you or being embarrassed or ridiculed.
Social Media Depression:
Depression, on the other hand, causes sever mood disorder. The symptoms have an affect on how you feel, think and handle daily activities such as sleeping,eating or working. Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under circumstances such as; postpartum, psychotic, seasonal and bipolar.
The term "social media depression" has been associated with subconsciously comparing ourselves to friends or feeling the sting of rejection across the internet by people we both know and do not know. Today's news, media, lifestyles and relationship information are predominately filled with negativity and bias reporting. On any given day it can leave the reader with severe doubts about their personal life and the future of our society.
How does social media affect teenagers?
Because mobile technology and social media are so easily accessible, the consequences can
be measured and seen throughout society as a whole. People look to the internet as a way to express themselves. It can be a positive expression or a negative one. Lately, the sensationalism of internet suicides and cyber-bullying among teenagers are on the rise.
Trying to measure up to the expectations of your peers can lead to feelings of rejection. This seems to be a driving force for both suicides and cyber-bullying. Stressful environments and unfettered access to information may have boosted the number of teens and children hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or actions.
For teenagers, the negative images projected into their timelines, games and apps, can create a false sense of reality that is misleading and unsupported in the real world. The world of social media can also make you feel like your constantly under the microscope and are being judged by every click you make. This an be an enormous amount of pressure for anyone to withstand. Believing you must please everyone to be liked can defiantly cause anxiety and generate a mood disorder associated with depression at any age.
Unfortunately, even with all the cyber safety training available today, teenagers are still easy targets to be preyed upon. If the proper boundaries are not set within your family, your home can quickly become a downloaded app. It is the responsibility of the parents to protect the child from the internet, and that is a full time job within itself. However, once a child knows and understands the pro's and con's of the internet, they are more equip to make better decisions on what form of media can be granted access to their lives. More importantly, parents must take the time to talk to their child about how their actions affect not just them but the family as a whole. Make sure the lines of communication remain open so children can talk freely about the things they don't understand. In the end, you are raising adults to become socially aware, who just happen to be children at the moment.
How to live a balanced life with social media
1. Limit Your Time
if your not careful social media can consume your entire day. Make a conscious effort to limit your time, 10 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at lunch, and maybe 30 minutes at night: or something similar. Internet time really adds up quickly. Make sure you replace the time with something you like to do: like going for a run, or a movie with friends. Make a vow not to use your mobile device when your in the company of others and experience relationships with people who are present instead of online. By limiting your social media time you increase the ability to get some time back in your life to help you achieve bigger goals.
2. Don't Compare
Everyone does it. We look at all the amazing pictures of people on social media and wonder, what are they doing that I am not? Although a common feeling, what is more important to realize is that what you are seeing is just a moment in time for that person and as glorious as it may seem they too have faced trials and sadness. Don't fall into the trap of comparing multiple highlights on a bunch of people you don't know, to the sum of your entire life. Most of the time this comparison can eat away at your confidence and become extremely discouraging.
3. Don't Worry About Being "Liked"
"Likes" are a way to seek approval from others. It boosts confidence and affirms the post. It's okay to want people to like what you post but don't become obsessed with checking every minute to see who is liking it. Remind yourself you are not posting to feel validated. Make sure you are happy with yourself and don't give the internet that kind of control over your life. If you are struggling with self-esteem issues and post for validation be honest with yourself and recognize that you many need to talk to someone you can trust to work out those issues you have within yourself. Remember, we all struggle with something. Just make sure your expectation on posting for "likes" should be aimed at people that matter in your life. Because at the end of the day, it's more important that you like yourself, and love those who support and love you.
4. Put Your Real Life First
The goal here is to be sure you have given quality time and attention to those people (including you) you love and care for before you give your time to social media. For example, your parents, children, friends, the gym, a walk in the park, movies and dinner time with the family. Don't miss out on important moments scrolling through timelines and new feeds. Take some time to self reflect and give yourself an opportunity to focus on your future. The phone, internet and social media will be there. Don't allow them to be a distraction and miss out on on living your best life.