Social media can be overwhelming. Besides connecting and sharing content, it can make people feel left out, boring, or just downright bad.
That sounds extreme, but researchers have found that social media can impact mental health in a number of ways:
- FOMO – a.k.a Fear of missing out. When we see pictures of friends having fun without us it deals a blow to our self-worth.
- Unrealistic Expectations – Social media is designed for highlights. Contacts only post exciting parts about their lives, but we compare our own lives and our downtime to everyone else’s ‘exciting’ lives.
- Measuring – Whether we realize it or not, we measure ourselves based on the attention our posts get.
Note that these are measurable effects on adults. The same problems are worse in children. The Children’s Commissioner in England found that younger children grow over-dependent on likes for social validation, which can later manifest itself as anxiety.
But, just disconnecting social media is a big ask. So what can we do?
Be aware – We know what social media dependence can do, so before we start scrolling through our friends posts, acknowledge the effects social media can have on you.
Check in – Ask yourself: What do you want to get out of social media? Is it to connect with friends or groups? Or are you just scrolling through because you have a down moment? A purpose in mind can help you navigate social media more effectively.
Social-free zones – Set boundaries for yourself. After dinner. In bed. Give yourself a window of time or a space where you can take a break from social media.
Talk to your kids – Make your kids aware of the problems that can arise from using social media. If they have an issue, just listen and acknowledge their feelings. And, most importantly, tell them that their online presence doesn’t matter nearly as much as they do– especially to you.
Another Resource: Managing SM Stress with Mindfulness from Childmind.org