Social media has woven itself into the fabric of many people’s lives and although many people enjoy it, some aspects can be detrimental to our mental health.
FEMAIL spoke with developmental psychologist Stephanie Lau and psychologist and clinical director of MindMovers Psychology Jaimie Bloch.
They have shared the four main ways that social media is affecting our health.
Social media has woven itself into the fabric of many people’s lives and although many people enjoy it, some aspects can be detrimental to our mental health
Unfortunately many of us are guilty of choosing to wind down before bed with our phone in hand, scrolling through social media posts from the day that has been and gone.
Developmental psychologist Stephanie Lau (pictured) said we are using technology too close to bed time
Stephanie Lau explained that many of us are using technology far too close to bed time, which is affecting how well we sleep.
‘Being potentially addicted or using these devices too much will make you stay up late as well and stop you from getting quality sleep,’ she said.
She recommends that people set limits on how often during the day they use social media, particularly before bed time.
Ms Lau explained that people should stop using them at least an hour before they hit the hay.
A new Canadian study has warned that just one hour of social media use per day could be enough to destroy your sleeping patterns.
‘The main problem that occurs with taking your electronics to bed is the blue light they emit,’ Ms Bloch said.
‘The blue lights of electronics sends signals to our brain telling us it is daytime. Our brains then release cortisol hormones, which then keep us in an alert, wakeful state.’
Ms Lau explained that people should stop using social media at least an hour before they hit the hay
Ms Bloch also said that scrolling through social media while you’re lying in bed can increase the length and frequency of sleep disturbances.
‘The combination of heightened emotions, getting distracted from the time and the blue light all work together to create disrupt sleep that can enable dullness and sluggishness in the morning,’ she said.
HOW TO MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA USE
- Stop using technology at least an hour before bedtime
- Try and limit your social media usage throughout the day
- If you have children, monitor the content they are accessing
- Limit the number of social networks you use to only those most relevant
- If you don’t know someone well, don’t feel obligated to follow them
‘Being bombarded with images of perfection, perfect bodies, perfect make up, perfect faces can leave people feeling quite down about themselves because you’re mislead to believe that this is reality,’ Ms Lau explained.
She said that this is coming to light more now as social media ”influencers” are becoming more open and honest about how much time and energy it takes to produce their content.
‘With age comes perspective and wisdom… young people are more vulnerable so they need guidance from adults and monitor their use of technology.’
Jaimie Bloch, psychologist and clinical director, said that platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, create an environment that is based on rating people (pictured)
Ms Bloch explained that the effects of social media on body image and self-esteem have been well documented through research studies in recent years and agreed with Ms Lau about the vulnerability of young people.
‘This type of research has uncovered that adolescent girls and young women are the most vulnerable and affected by social media, specifically when it comes to body dissatisfaction.
‘Research into constant exposure to images that portray “thin-ideals” and cosmetically-altered bodies, found that girls and women who were exposed to these types of images rated significantly high levels of displeasure in their own body.’
She said that platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, create an environment that is based on rating people and earning approval through likes, reposts and comments.
‘This creates a hyper focus and link between body image, self-esteem and social belonging,’ she said.
‘This type of research has uncovered that adolescent girls and young women are the most vulnerable and affected by social media,’ Ms Bloch said
Ms Lau said that the increased amount of time that people are spending on social media is impacting social interactions.
‘We’re always staring at a screen and not mindful of the people that we’re with and we’re too attached to our gadgets,’ she explained.
‘Even a phone in a room can take away your attention from what’s going on in the room.
‘We’re always on standby for the next notification and alert and it takes time away from the people who are with us.’
Ms Bloch said that people tend to live their entire lives on social platforms, which can be detrimental
Ms Bloch explained that wanting to connect with other people is a human need and the invention of social media has helped people connect, even from afar.
‘However an excess of constant connectivity can be negative to our mental health and our lives,’ she said.
‘The pressure of having to be always available or responsive can create overwhelming feelings of anxiety and can make you feel like you are constantly switched on, allowing no room or space to switch off and relax.’
Ms Bloch also said that many people feel like they need to live their entire lives on social platforms.
‘We are constantly walking the tight rope to deliver content, respond to others, be responded too, but also to monitor and manage what we are sharing,’ she said.
‘This near impossible balancing act can create intense stress, anxiety and depression in many social media users.’