By: Megan Earp
What is social media?
Social media, defined, includes websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. That sounds great, doesn’t it? So why do we need to detox from social media?
What has the research shown?
The keyword in that definition is “social.” Being social means developing relationships with other human beings and the community/society at large. It also means enjoying other people and being present in a community or society. Since the inception of social media in 1997, there has been a continuous downward spiral of actual face-to-face communication. Some may think, so what?
Without human interaction, a person slowly begins to feel more and more isolated. The feeling of isolation can result in feelings of anger, sadness, fear, agitation, or loss – all of which impact mental health negatively. Because of this downward spiral, instances of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed. Along with these, an increase in ADHD has also occurred along with a decrease in sleep quality and self-esteem.
Especially in adolescents and college age students there has been a lot of cyber-bullying occurring via social media and this has often led to suicide. It has also led to depression because people tend to compare themselves negatively with what they see as the happy lives of their peers online (even though in reality they are no happier than they are).
Another surprising, yet terrifying aspect, is the development of Social Media Anxiety Disorder which includes symptoms of interrupting conversations to check social media accounts, lying to others about time spent on social media (average is 15 hours a week), withdrawal from family and friends, producing less work, loss of interest in other activities, neglecting school/work, and severe nervousness when not able to check notifications as well as Phantom Ringing/Vibrations, which is the feeling of the phone ringing/vibrating but it actually is not. Instead of being social with “social” media, which is what the human mind needs, people have crafted a wall to hide behind where they can hide from real human interaction.
In order to stop this downward spiral, people need to take a step back from their social media use and once again interact as if they were in the days of old. Doing so will increase motivation, lessen feelings of anxiety/depression, and provide clarity of thought once again – all of which are great to improve mental health.
What are the benefits of “detoxing” from social media?
There are plenty of reasons to detox from social media, but here are just a few:
- Exercise – stepping back from social media allows time to exercise, which in turn can improve a person’s mental health because exercise has been proven to boost the happy chemicals in the brain during a good, rigorous workout.
- Time – an abundance of time will be created when a person stops using their downtime to check social media. It will allow them to read a book, spend more time family, write a novel (if they so choose), complete work/homework, or more.
- Communication – a decrease in communication among parents and their children, husband/wives, is becoming more and more apparent. By detoxing from social media, this will have a positive impact on these relationships that may be strained by social media, thus creating more human connection.
- Self-Esteem – a boost in self-esteem will occur because people will not be bombarded by pictures, news articles, and posts that will cause them anxiety, depression, or other feelings of unworth.
- Creativity – detoxing from social media will allow a person to think for themselves, thus providing inspiration for new and innovative ideas.
In a world bombarded by constant pressure to be “present” on social media, it is imperative that instead of adding yet another social media account, that a person takes a step back and allows breathing room. While social media has many benefits, like marketing, building businesses, staying connected, and more – it also has many negative impacts, including a person’s mental health.
In such a fast-paced world, it is time to detox from social media, breathe, and reconnect with others in order to receive genuine smiles, actual hugs, and conversation without the screen. Talk to one of our counselors if you feel you need help doing this.