Social media has become a huge part of our lives. In January 2020, it was recorded that there were 3.8 billion social media users in the world (Kemp, 2020). In Singapore, there are over 4.7 million social media users, making up about 74% of the population in 2020 (Statista Research Department, 2020). Hence, we see how social media platforms have created a global stage for people all over the world to connect like never before. This has profoundly changed the way people build relationships and interact with one another. Additionally, individuals are now able to use social media as a platform to make their voice heard and find a community of like-minded people. Furthermore, online platforms also overcome the barriers of time and distance, allowing people to strengthen and expand their in-person networks and interactions across the globe.
While social media has facilitated connection for people, some argue that it has created many mental health issues in the process. Research have found that harmful effects of social media include increased exposure to harm, social isolation, depression and cyber-bullying (Best, Manktelow & Taylor, 2014). In addition, it was shown that an increase in social media usage significantly led to a higher risk of depression (Lin et al., 2016). Therefore, due to these reasons, many people believe that the disadvantages of social media heavily outweigh the advantages of it.
However, like it or not, social media is surely here to stay. Hence, in this blog post, I would like to share with you some tips on how to build a healthier relationship with social media.
Unfollow accounts that do not “spark joy”
It is incredibly important to remind yourself that social media is not a full reflection of one’s life. Regardless of who you are following – influencers, celebrities, businesses or organisations, social media feeds are full of carefully curated posts with possibly many layers of edits made. If you find yourself scrolling social media and feeling inferior or less than as a result, consider unfollowing the accounts that are making you feel that way. Which accounts genuinely “spark joy” in you? More importantly, who are people that incite self-doubt and makes you feel less-than? (Llyod, 2019). It is time to put an end to the negativity on social media by carefully reviewing the accounts you follow – you have a choice to unfollow or block accounts that do not bring positivity, inspiration or motivation into your life.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Seeing others announce their successes and achievements or upload stunning pictures could make your daily life pale in comparison (MindWise Innovations). At this point, remember that people do not tend to post photos of themselves when they are struggling or when they are going through a bad time. It is helpful to accept that everyone experiences ups and downs in life. Therefore, look at these posts as inspiration for you to work towards your own goals rather than measuring your worth against them. If they are a close friend or family, while it is completely normal to feel tinges of envy when we see the achievements of others, do not let their happiness and successes minimise the achievements that you have made so far as well (Wolff, 2016).
Set boundaries for your social media usage
We have all experienced wanting to check our phones for something important but found ourselves scrolling through Instagram or Facebook for the next few hours (MindWise Innovations). It is extremely easy to fall into the black hole of social media with the abundance of entertaining content available online these days. Hence, if you have been getting distracted by social media and would like to limit your usage, be mindful about why you are logging into a site and make sure you log off when you finish.
Think before posting or consuming content
The little things we see on a daily basis has the ability to shape who we are and what we think. Hence, with our daily exposure to social media, it is important that we are cautious about the content we allow ourselves to be exposed to. An overconsumption of negative content can significantly affect the way you perceive the things around you.
Additionally, with the anonymity and accessibility of the Internet, it is easy for us to upload our views and opinions for all to see. However, knowing how much social media can adversely affect another person, we can do our part to make social media a more encouraging place by avoiding online hate, arguments and trolls (Tanap, 2019). By doing so, we foster a community of positivity and support amongst our friends and followers – at least on our page.
Put your mental wellness as a priority
If online activities are making you feel drained or upset, take a break from the online world and try doing something in the real world instead (Tanap, 2019). You can choose to meet your friends in person or take a walk in the park rather than spending time online. At the end of the day, finding a balance between our online and offline lives is key to a mental wellness.
Being on social media can definitely enhance your life but it can also become an additional stressor if used excessively. With these tips, start forming healthy social media habits to create more balance in your life, protect your mental well-being and make social media a positive force instead of a negative one.
If you still feel that social media is affecting you more than it should and you are struggling to cope on your own, do reach out and share these concerns to someone who you trust. Alternatively, you can also approach a mental health professional to work things out together.
On your end, you can choose to remove your social media notifications or the application itself for a temporary break.
All in all, you are in control of your social media usage. Utilize your time and energy wisely, on things that spark joy in you, inspire you, stretch you and most importantly, guide you to embracing your authentic self.
Authors: Camellia Wong, MA., Karin Ng
Best, M., Manktelow, R. & Taylor, B. (2014). Online communication, social media and adolescent wellbeing: A systematic narrative review. Children and Youth Services Review, 41, 27–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.03.001
Kemp, S. (2002, January 30). Digital 2020: 3.8 billion people use social [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/01/digital-2020-3-8-billion-people-use-social-media#:~:text=Worldwide%2C%20there%20are%203.80%20billion,percent)%20over%20the%20past%20year.
Lloyd, C. (2019, February 4). Do the People You Follow on Social Media Spark Joy? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.howtogeek.com/403438/do-the-people-you-follow-on-social-media-spark-joy/
Lin, L.Y., Sidani, J.E., Shensa, A., Radovic, A., Miller, E., Colditz, J.B., Hoffman, B.L., Giles, L.M. & Primack, B.A. (2016). Association between social media use and depression among U.S. young adults. Depress Anxiety, 33, 323-331. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22466
Statista Research Department. (2020). Penetration rate of top social networks in Singapore as of the 3rd quarter of 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/284466/singapore-social-network-penetration/
Tanap, R. (2019, February 25). How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Social Media. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2019/How-to-Have-a-Healthy-Relationship-with-Social-Media
Wolff, C. (2016, June 7). How To Have A Good Relationship With Social Media. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.bustle.com/articles/164876-10-ways-to-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-social-media
MindWise Innovations. (n.d.). How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Social Media. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.mindwise.org/blog/mental-health/how-to-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-social-media/