Is social media affecting your mental well-being?
By Cassidy Brown, January 9 2019
There is no doubt that social media has changed our world dramatically over the past few years. With so many different platforms it’s now easier than ever to stay in touch and connect with people across the globe that we might have easily lost touch with in a previous time. We have constant access to information, real-time news and world updates in the palm of our hands. But whilst social media gives us so much, it’s also been said to shorten our attention span. It can also interfere with our offline communication skills. If we take a step back and evaluate its effect on society, is it more positive or negative as a whole?
By having a constant feed of pictures and insights from our loved ones, celebrities, and even strangers streamed in front of our face, have we lost touch with the true beauty of the world outside of social media? The constant information makes us lazy when it comes to reading up on what’s happening in the news or in our friends’ lives. Many of us are addicted to our phones and social media, even if we don’t care to admit it ourselves. We wanted to find out to what extent social media affects our health and wellbeing and what we can do to tackle it.
Shortening your attention span
Social media is a place for communicating with whoever we like, whenever and wherever we are in the world. However, a common question raised is whether it is really necessary to be plugged in at all times. It’s thought that spending an extensive amount of time on social is actually doing us more harm than it is good. Switching between Instagram, Twitter and Facebook every few minutes is not a productive way to spend your time and only helps by eating up time and giving you more to gossip about. Sometimes we multitask because we have to, but when you’re doing it because you can’t focus on one thing for too long, it might be time to take a break.
Having all of these platforms available at our fingertips has shortened our attention span by not being able to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. AdWeek found that our attention span has shortened from 12 seconds to eight seconds in only 15 years. Our attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish.
For example, have you ever started reading an article online but found yourself switching to a different site before finishing it? It might be a sign that your attention span is suffering.
A depression session
Have you ever scrolled past a post on Facebook or Instagram and felt a wave of anxiety, insecurity or envy? You’re not alone. There are plenty of us out there who might feel a wave of sadness from seeing posts of happy couples spamming our feeds with #CoupleGoals. Or a friend who is constantly winning at life with new cars, promotions and crazy holidays. This negative feeling comes from us comparing ourselves and our lives to theirs, and that isn’t healthy. According to Psychology Today, 60% of people feel jealousy when comparing themselves to others on their social media platforms. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy” and social media is a place where we are especially susceptible to this behaviour, Instagram in particular.
A recent study done by the Royal Society of Public Health shows how Instagram is the worst social media site for our mental health. They asked around 1,500 people aged 14-24 to rate social media sites on a multitude of things. This included issues such as anxiety, depression and bullying. Why? Instagram is the one platform which relies solely on image. We pick, edit and filter our lives to give the best impression of ourselves.These often unattainable image heighten the standards expected of everything we do: from what we have for breakfast, to our honeymoon destinations. It’s all about comparison, which in itself can become quite a dangerous and dark habit.
Social media definitely has something to do with how short our attention spans are these days, but does it make us restless? Many of us social media junkies struggle to relax until we have checked all of our favourite social media platforms. Whether this is first thing in the morning, or before we go to sleep more often than not, we find ourselves checking our social media pages prior to performing most tasks or activities.
Having constant information at our fingertips can be really addictive to the point where we feel we can’t relax without it. In a study done by the UK in 2012, ⅔ of people surveyed said they had difficulty relaxing when unable to use their social media accounts. Which goes to show that if it were a problem five years ago, it’s even more of a problem now. This innate need to use social media is what could be causing a lack of attention span or depressive feelings. It might all seem doom and gloom, but there are a few things you can do to prevent yourself from falling into the social media trap.
Delete your apps
Deleting all of your social media apps from your phone will certainly help to keep you from scrolling on them for too long. Do this for a week and you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel about yourself! You can still access these platforms through a computer, but you will need to be somewhere with Wi-fi in order to do that. This is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you won’t be spending too much time scrolling through your feeds.
Restrict the times you use social media
Give yourself a time limit for each platform. Or set a certain time in which you can check each one every day. For example, only check Instagram at lunchtime. Or limit the time you spend online to one hour in total.
Join a volunteer group
Check out your local volunteer website and see if there are any volunteer organisations that interest you. It will cut down on the time you spend on your phone, will provide help to others in need and look great on your CV.
Go for a run or a walk in your neighborhood or local park. You’ll be amazed at how much you see and notice when your eyes aren’t glued to your phone screen. Too often than not people around staring down at their phones and don’t get to enjoy the world around them. Check out our summer bodies blog to get some more ideas on how you can get out and exercise.
Start a new hobby
Have a hobby you’ve wanted to take up again? Well now’s your chance — Stop putting it off and just do it already. Hobbies are great to keep you busy and not thinking about picking up your phone to see if anyone tweeted or snapped you.
All of this being said, social media can be an amazing source of information and communication, but it can also be a source of pain and confusion. So, next time you log onto Facebook or Instagram, try not to spend more than a few minutes scrolling. Get out in the real world and do something fun!
For example, you could book a pedicure with LeSalon for you and a friend right in your own home, or theirs! Just visit our website, LeSalon, or download the app on your phone and book right away! You can also keep updated on everything through our blog.