The Link Between Social Media and Mental Health
The Link Between Social Media and Mental Health
With World Mental Health Day happening this week and writing our guide to mental health in the workplace, it got us thinking about social media and mental health. As a digital marketer, social media has (unfortunately) become something we can’t avoid as it’s a vital tool for our business. But as much as we love digital marketing, we often find ourselves fed up of the way it feels like social media is controlling our lives. We’ve heard a lot about social media impacting people’s mental health, so we decided it’s time to take a deeper look.
With 1 in 3 people in Ireland checking their phones within five minutes of going to sleep, and 16% admitting to checking their phones over 100 times a day, you can see just how addicted people are becoming to social media. From peoples seemingly perfect lives on Facebook to beautifully filtered Instagram pics, do we really have it all? Or is this all just a mental health time-bomb waiting to go off? Social media and mental health go hand in hand, just take a look.
Something that’s becoming a big issue nowadays is self esteem. As a society, we’re constantly bombarded by pictures of skinny models with the perfect figure. We’re told that we need to get our body ready for summer. You get the message. We’re constantly being taught to look up to impossible beauty standards which is causing a massive self esteem issue. Young people especially are feeling like they’re not clever enough, not beautiful enough, and social media is definitely not helping as we’re surrounded by perfect influences and people’s perfect lives.
Moving on, another way we can link social media and mental health issues is through making comparisons. Have you ever found yourself jealous about your neighbours perfect marriage? Or do you find yourself wondering how the hell can my friend afford such a glamorous lifestyle when all I can do is dream about it? The problem with social media is that we’re constantly comparing our lives to the picture perfect versions of other people’s lives that they’re choosing to put online. It’s easy to get sucked in and forget that these people have arguments too, and their flashy lifestyle is actually funded by dept.
As human beings, we need human contact to thrive. And we hate to break it to you, but human contact via a screen doesn’t count. As people, we need to talk about the good and the bad to keep ourselves mentally healthy, and being shown the good all the time really isn’t helping.
As a parent, one thing you worry about is bullying. Is my child going to get bullied? And if they are being bullied, what can I do about it to make it stop? 7 out of 10 young people have reported being cyber bullied, which makes us wonder are social media platforms really doing enough to tackle the issue? You see, the problem with cyber bullying is that it can be done so anonymously. Bullys can hide behind a mask and not have to suffer the consequences of their actions. What’s worse is that the bullying can spread like a wildfire, and what might start off as 1 leaked photo “just for fun” could up up going viral, leaving the victim literally unable to do a thing about it. There have been so many lives lost to teen suicide just because someone’s “joke” got out of hand, leaving people feeling like suicide really is the only way out.
Have you ever felt like social media was a popularity contest? The more friends the better, right? Well, that’s not really the case in real life. It’s all well and good having 500 Facebook friends, but would you really call them your friends in real life? Would you stop and talk to every single one of them if you bumped into each other in town? Or are they just there for stalking purposes? The more time you spend on social media, the less time you’re going to have for real life friendships. Friendships and opening up is a vital part of ensuring you’re looking after your mental health – so you can see once again where bad mental health and social media go hand in hand.
This can also be relevant for companies, too. Companies who buy social media likes are not actually doing themselves a favour, they’re actually stabbing themselves in the back. While it may look like they’re super popular because they have thousands of likes, it’s obvious that these have been bought as your engagement rates won’t go up. Bought likes never interact with your brand, so it’s better to go for quality not quantity in this case.
It’s a proven fact that social media makes us unhappy, and it’s this unhappiness that can so easily lead to depression. Actually, people who use social media are actually 2.7 times more likely to get depressed, which really gets you thinking. Is all of this pressure to live a perfect life really worth it? Or is it time that as a society we started tackling our obsession with social media and take back control of our lives?
So, what can we do to improve our use of social media and mental health? It’s simple. Step away from your phones, spend quality time with friends and family, make memories without having to document them, and remember – people who have perfect lives on social media probably don’t in real life.