Founder and CEO of ACI Specialty Benefits, Dr. Ann Clark, dives into an important relationship between social media and mental health and new challenges in the digital age.
According to a recent Forbes article, there are over 2 billion Facebook users worldwide, about 500 million tweets are sent daily, 95 million images are uploaded to Instagram each day, and 400 hours of video are uploaded per minute on YouTube. Since each of these platforms is designed to compete for people’s attention and pushes a constant stream of content to keep users engaged 24/7, it is up to each individual to set parameters around personal use and build healthy strategies to preserve mental well-being in the face of new digital challenges.
1. Facebook Envy
The false comparison of a real, full life to a curated timeline isn’t only unrealistic, it can fuel depression, feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Instead of falling into the comparison trap, try to cultivate a healthy sense of self and authentic confidence, not dependent on measuring up with others online.
2. Snapchat Dysmorphia
With the constant use of image filters to adjust features and complexion, scientists are arguing that these filters are triggering Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), even coining the term, Snapchat Dysmorphia. When obsessive thoughts and feelings over perceived imperfections don’t seem to subside, a mental health professional can help.
3. Shortened Attention Spans
Attention spans and capacities for memory are much shorter than in the pre-internet days. In fact, the average human being now only has an attention span of eight seconds, according to a study by Microsoft. Constantly checking various social streams can be addicting and mentally draining, so try putting those phones out of sight for planned periods of time, be fully present, and rest.
4. Trolling and Harassment
The anonymity of online life can bring out the worst in people. To deal with trolls, block negative incoming messages, or better yet, reduce dependence on social media by engaging in more activities, community outreach and hobbies in real life.
As more and more people live through screens, many are reporting feeling more isolated and experiencing challenges connecting in real life. It is ironic that in a time when humans are technically more connected than ever before, there is a massive loneliness epidemic. Be mindful of how excessive social media use may be taking a toll on well-being, mental health, physical health, self-esteem, and relationships. Now, more than ever, is the time to strengthen human connection in families, communities and the world at large.
See Dr. Ann Clark’s original article “Is Social Media Hacking Mental Health,” on LinkedIn.