The academic performance and overall quality of life of a student are tied to his/her mental health. How you think and feel about your life and the people around you will directly affect your outlook on the world.
As a college or university student, paying attention to things that affect your state of mind is very crucial. One of such things is social media and how you use it.
How does Social Media Affect Mental Health?
The positive sides are obvious. Asides from the possibility of leveraging online for connections for education and research, being able to interact with people virtually makes it possible to communicate with friends and family in distant locations quite seamlessly. This does have some positive effects on an individual’s mental well-being.
Networking also makes it possible to find new friends and explore new communities and interests. This helps prevent feelings of loneliness and social isolation that individuals might feel when living in remote areas or as members of a marginalized group. However, there are several examples of mental health problems caused and exacerbated by social media. The exact effects on mental health and the extent to which these negative social media effects go are still unclear due to a paucity of research on the subject. But the few studies that have been carried out in that regard show disturbing results. Read here examples of mental health issues that may be associated with social media usage.
Feelings of Inadequacy and Insecurities About One’s life or Appearance
Social media exposes students to glimpses of other people’s lives that can make them feel insecure and reduce their self-esteem. Seeing the achievements and highlights of other people’s lives can arouse feelings of dissatisfaction about your own life. Similarly, the picture-perfect images of celebrities and social media influencers can lead to unrealistic expectations.
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Anxiety and the Fear of Missing Out
FOMO is a coined term used to describe the anxiety that one feels because they feel they’re missing out on all the fun and excitement going on online. This leads to a compulsive desire to check one’s phone every minute to refresh feeds and check for updates. FOMO has real-life consequences such as distraction, poor sleep, and even prioritizing life on the internet over real-life interaction.
Social media can potentially put you at higher risk of mood disorders. It can also exacerbate depressive tendencies. Spending too much time online instead of real-world interaction can cause one to miss out on the true connection necessary for healthy mental health.
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Social media creates pseudo-stars out of people. Desperately desiring the likes, comments and retweets can become an obsession leading to unhealthy self-centeredness.
These are some of the best examples of mental health issues that students have to deal with due to social media. Given its many potential negative effects on mental health. Students must take steps to protect themselves.
How to Spend Time on Social Media Without Harming Yourself?
The most straightforward approach to protect your mental health would be to cut down time spent on social media. However, this is hardly as simple as it sounds. Staying away from social media entirely is not always possible. This is why it has to be paired with other strategies to protect you when you spend time online. This includes:
Understand that Most of What is seen on Social Media isn’t Real
Most people online have created a fake persona that does not exactly reflect their reality. Yet people that see this feel pressured by them. Photos and videos are often manipulated and most people only post the high points of their life. Understanding these facts will help you come to terms with the fact that social media is not real and reduce how much you.
Prioritize Real-life Interactions
Students should learn to prioritize face-to-face interaction with friends and family over online communication. This could be by establishing simple rules like using no-phones during dates or at certain periods of the day and actively seeking out opportunities for real-life connections.
Feelings of self-doubt, comparison, and anxiety that come from excessive social media use are hardly noticeable until they eat too deep into our mental health. Paying attention to how social media makes you feel will help avoid negative triggers and pay more attention to the positives.
Although the extent to which social media affects the mental health of students isn’t fully known, the risks are obvious. This is why students should pay attention to their social media use and work out ways to use social media safely for their own good.