The negative effects of social media and the internet have always been a topic of discussion. But do we understand the full extent of the effects of social media on our mental health?
Social media has revolutionised how we live our lives, work and how we socialize with friends and family. But with all the positive simplifications it brings with it an array of dangers.
Research has shown social media use is intricately linked to a decline in mental health. “Social media can wreak havoc with our confidence while at the same time making us feel less lonely and more connected” mentioned Tabitha Goldstaub, chair of UK government’s AI council.
Social media is built around the dopamine loop: a compulsive reward system designed to keep you scrolling with variable rewards that make fulfilment entirely unattainable. The average social media user spends 136 minutes a day on social networking sites. Social media has accelerated and optimised our innate need to connect, but in doing so it has eroded our reality by shifting these exchanges into an exclusively digital space.
However, it is not merely the social media platforms that have the biggest impact but rather the content we consume that affects our mental health. We need to be critical when following pages and allowing items into our feed.
Social media is here to stay, but we can control the impact it has on us, by limiting screen time and making better selections of the content we view. Despite revolutionising the way the world communicates, it can at the same time make us neglect those close to us. Be sure that when you’re using social media, it isn’t actually using you.