So, is social media bad for you? Does it impact your health negatively?
The average time social media users spend on their favorite social media sites worldwide has increased from 90 minutes in 2012 to 144 minutes in 2019. The total number of social media users worldwide is expected to cross 4.41 billion by 2025. People use social media for all types of activities including socializing, sharing content, sharing thoughts, chatting with friends, and a major chunk of social media users sign in to check what others are doing on social media.
As they say, excess of everything is bad. The same is the case with social media. It isn’t considered a healthy medium to socialize and interact with your family and friends. There are numerous studies that show how social media impacts your mental and physical health.
The research in this area is scant. It is a rapidly growing and evolving field that needs scientific studies and experimentation to conclude if social media is bad for you. Here is how medical experts link social media to your health:
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are the two most common outcomes of social media usage. People feel depressed when they spend time on social media due to several reasons such as cyber-bullying, seeing others are living a better life, self-analysis, addiction, and understanding that they’re wasting time on social media but can’t control it.
A study found depression symptoms including a feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness among social media users. The depression symptoms were linked to the quality of interactions where negative interactions were found to be a strong predictor of depression.
Another study used self-reporting data to measure the impact of the usage of multiple social media platforms on anxiety. The study found that people who use 7 or more social media sites were 3x more likely to have anxiety as compared to people who use 2 or fewer social media platforms.
A Pew survey found that people feel stressed when they use social media, especially Twitter was found to be one of the biggest contributors to stress. This is because you get to know people, what they do, what problems they face, and so on. And this includes both negative and positive content.
For example, people share their issues and tag relevant people on Twitter to get help. When you are exposed to several problems every time you log into your social media account, you tend to feel stressed.
The study concluded that social media usage is linked to low levels of stress in both men and women.
If you have sleepless nights and it takes forever to fall asleep, social media might be a culprit. A study examined the link between social media use and sleep disturbance and found a linkage between the two. However, sleep disturbance is associated with logging in activity instead of time spent on social media.
If you log in to check social media accounts several times throughout the day especially before going to bed, you’ll most likely have disturbed sleep.
Researchers concluded that this might be due to the bright light from the device can delay and hinder sleep – and it has no relation with social media as such.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
This one is the most credible outcome of social media. Social media can make you spend more as people don’t want to miss out. Marketers and social media influencers use this technique to persuade their followers to buy.
A study found that 49% of millennials said that social media persuaded them to spend more. Another study found that people who are heavy social media users tend to have high credit card debt due to increased spending.
When you see people buying and enjoying products, you want to do the same. This is how marketing works and there is no denying it.
Several other disorders are linked to social media such as sadness, low self-esteem, addiction, bullying, loneliness, and more. The following chart sums up both the positive and negative aspects of social media use:
Yes, social media does have a lot of positive aspects too. It isn’t all about illnesses and medical issues. The most cited positive aspects of social media use include:
- Emotional support
- Community building
And don’t forget the millions of dollars that businesses spend each year on social media ads. It is a huge industry that plays a significant role in global economics and the circulation of money. The global social media ad spending is expected to reach $138K+ million by 2025:
The average spending per social media user in 2021 is expected to be $23.28. More social media users mean more spending per user and this spending keeps the money in circulation. Social media is the birthplace of several emerging markets, jobs, careers, tools, and more.
Not everything about social media is bad.
Is Social Media Bad for You?
A meta-analysis of studies on social media sites and mental illnesses was conducted recently that reviewed studies published between 2005 and 2016. It found mixed results and reported that most of the studies used self-reporting cross-sectional approaches that are prone to bias and can’t be generalized. The authors concluded that the relationship between social media usage and mental illnesses depends on the quality of social interactions that you have.
It is more related to what type of content you see and share on social media. If you are more into negative content, it will result in depression, anxiety, and stress. If you tend to engage with positive content, you’ll feel happy and productive.
It all comes down to how you use it. Everything is under your control. Research shows that the time you spend on social media is a major factor. People who spend less time on social media are found to be happier as opposed to their counterparts.
The following chart shows idea time you must spend on each social media platform to stay productive and happy:
So, it is all in your control. If you feel a social media site is bad for you, stop using it. If you don’t see any negative symptoms, keep using it.
Social media isn’t bad. The way you use it makes it bad (or good).
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