Be Careful With Your Social Media Use

Social media can be a double-edged sword. It brought so many great things into our lives. We have easy access to talk to family, friends, or significant others any time or any place, which is a wonderful thing. Still, it also created a world where we are unhealthily hyper-focused on everyone else’s lives but ourselves.

If you are like me, you use social media to connect with friends, family, watch videos, or use it simply because you are bored. Still, the amount of screen time on social media has increased significantly over the last decade, which is not a good thing. Like other behavioral addictions, social media can influence your brain in very harmful ways. Some use social media compulsively or excessively. Not everyone who uses social media can or will develop an addiction. Still, because this activity is becoming so much more popular and accessible, the number of those using social media unhealthily will increase.

Why is social media so addicting? I am sure it can seem fun and relaxing, but the developers of social media apps created them for you to use as much as possible. When we log on to our favorite apps, we get little bursts of dopamine signals to our brain. Dopamine is a chemical that is associated with pleasure. When you are using your favorite apps, you will inevitably experience something that will make you happy, which makes your brain identify this activity as something rewarding that you should repeat. These dopamine hits are only encountered while using social media, like the way your brain reacts to getting dopamine from other addictions, like nicotine. Eventually, you will go back to where your mind associates the source of happiness.

While I wholeheartedly agree that social media can be a beautiful thing, it has created a trap where we always want to go back to it. So, I will give you some advice on how much you should use social media every day. A study published by the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology recommended that you keep social media use 30 minutes a day. The study authors monitored participants’ social media use across three platforms and gauged their mental health during use. The authors then separated the students into two separate groups. One group was told to keep using social media as much as they usually use, and the other group was tasked with limiting social media use to 30 minutes per day. The study reported that when volunteers reduced their social media use, they experienced a “significant improvement in well-being, exhibiting reduced loneliness and depression” (Holmes).

To wrap this up, I believe that social media can be a wonderful thing. Giving us access to experiences or people we would never have access to before, but the dangerousness of these apps taking over your well-being must be controlled. While it may be hard for you because everyone else is using social media, the best thing for your mental health is to limit social media use before social media use limits you.

 

Resources for the above story can be found here:

“Average Time Spent Daily on Social Media (Latest 2020 Data).” BroadbandSearch.net, www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/average-daily-time-on-social-media.  

Holmes, Lindsay. “This Is How Much Time You Should Spend On Social Media Per Day.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 14 Nov. 2018, www.huffpost.com/entry/how-much-time-on-social-media_n_5be9c148e4b0783e0a1a8281.  

Parkin, Simon. “Has Dopamine Got Us Hooked on Tech?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Mar. 2018, www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/04/has-dopamine-got-us-hooked-on-tech-facebook-apps-addiction.