Is your relationship with social media healthy?

Social media can be Satan in disguise. If you’re unsure as to how bad social media can be on your mental health then check out last weeks post Social Media: why every ‘like’ is a click at your mental health.
Social media can affect your brain just the same as gambling, with each like damaging your self-esteem. However, managed well a responsible relationship with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. can be fun and fulfilling!
Sarah Brown is social media savvy and was first introduced to social media at 10 years old – with good old MySpace. Then came Bebo. Then the real big boy took over – Facebook. 
 “It was Facebook or Twitter and all of my friends were on it so it was an easy choice. MSN was also really big.”
However, as per most teenagers, her internet life kicked up a gear and soon she was spending hours every day after school chatting with her friends that she’d only just left at the school gate.
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Sarah’s Instagram account is much like most girls in their twenties – full of Boomerang’s, selfies and smiles!

Like a drug, Facebook seems to ease users in before quickly entangling in every minute of peoples lives.
“I am now on social media pretty much every hour I’m awake. Not constantly, but it’s so accessible that I am always checking for updates, or if I get notifications.”
“It is pretty draining, especially if you don’t keep up with it. Also, as sad as it sounds, I feel pressure to update both my Instagram’s regularly to maintain followers – particularly my work one as this could lead to potential jobs etc. 
“Facebook I try to avoid as much as possible, I deleted it when I was about 15 because it got so out of control with having 1,000s of people on there I didn’t know, but recently had to reactivate for uni and work.”
This pressure is regularly reported by many users with The Guardian reporting that teenagers who engage with social media during the night could be damaging their sleep and increasing their risk of anxiety and depression.

The pressure they felt to make themselves available 24/7, and the resulting anxiety if they did not respond immediately to texts or posts. Teens are so emotionally invested in social media that a fifth of secondary school pupils will wake up at night and log on, just to make sure they don’t miss out.

 

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The pressure to load selfies that gain 50+ likes is something Sarah, like many others, feels on a weekly basis

Sarah even admitted to only loading content to her social media page at a certain time of the day and that if she loads a photo that gets below 50 followers she’s not as happy than when her photos preform better. This isn’t difficult when apps now tell users when’s the best time to load content for the biggest audience – advice we all shamefully take on board!
However, social media can be harder to control for some users – especially those with mental health problems.

The cocktail of mental health and social media can be catastrophic…

Lou-Ekai made her debut on social media when she was just twelve years old – hello MySpace, again! Until Facebook, once again, took the forefront and gained Lou as a user aged just fourteen.

 

“The reason why I joined at such a young age was that all my friends and older cousins had these social medias so it seemed ‘Cool’. I guess I was trying to fit in!”

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@loukai is quickly growing in popularity online – but what happens when the followers stop?

“I would be on MySpace for hours and hours looking at everyone’s profiles and even fixing my own. On MSN I would be online constantly as soon as I got home from school.”

Facebook quickly became a way of life for Lou as she’s a full-time single mum – barely having time during the day just to check social media but at night I’d find myself flicking through for hours.

These social media habits quickly became damaged “I’d feel insecure about myself especially being on Instagram and Facebook. Facebook made me feel bad about being a mum, seeing my friends progress and go to university and also seeing other mums have good days when I was having a bad day. It just got too much, it made me anxious, doubt myself and I’d nit pick at myself which sounds pathetic but it’s just the way social media affected me.”

“Gambling, drugs, and drinking are all an addiction, a guilty pleasure its kind of like what you mentioned in your post, the addiction for likes and the pressure. We all can’t lie, we get happier when we get more likes don’t we? It just gets unhealthy if that’s all you genuinely care about.”

Much like Sarah, Lou will craves the attention of getting a lot of likes.

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Lou’s blog page includes these icons – social media hyperlinks that we all recognise way too easy.

 

“It boosts your confidence I suppose. On my blog posts, I get so happy when I get over 5 likes, and you can guess how excited I get when I get 10+ lol!

On Instagram, I feel like it’s easier to get likes especially with the use of #. On Instagram, I get more likes on my posts, like 20+ and it does make me feel satisfied, all I care about is promoting my blog to help others though.”

All images included courtesy of those involved!
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