May 16, 2022 3 min read

More than half of the world uses social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. Unsurprisingly, teens are the heaviest users, with surveys showing almost half of 13 to 17-year-olds are online nearly constantly.

While social media definitely has its perks, there’s no doubt it can negatively affect mental health, especially in youth. 

Researchers have long observed a strong association between rising rates of teen depression and the advent of social media. A possible explanation is that social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy, cyberbullying, and isolation from friends and family. To protect your or your loved one’s well-being, here are five tips for healthier social media usage.

1. Take a Break

No need to delete all your social media accounts when you notice changes in your mental health. Simply taking a “social media detox” for a day, week, or month can be enough. Stepping away from social media will help you reconnect with the real world and leave more time for activities that promote mental and physical health (e.g. exercise, meal prep, and socializing). It also gives you the opportunity to break the social media comparison cycle and stop you from thinking you’re missing out. 

2. Limit Screen Time

Because social media can be addictive, it’s easy for users to lose track of how much time they’re spending scrolling their feeds. This is especially true for younger generations who spend about 9 hours each day online, according to surveys. Track your screen time by checking your phone’s daily usage or with digital well-being apps. You can also reduce screen time with rules and schedules. For example, avoid checking your phone at the dinner table, before bed, or when socializing. 

3. Regain Control

Take control of what you’re exposed to on social media instead of letting it control you. Follow accounts and topics that bring you joy and make you feel good about yourself. If necessary, mute and block users who show disrespectful or bullying behavior. Teens are at a heightened risk of being exposed to cyberbullying because they’re more likely to post personal information and disregard privacy concerns. Let your teen know bullying is never okay and to be careful about their privacy.

4. Be Proactive 

Studies have also linked passive social media use with low levels of well-being. On the other hand, social media users who regularly post and interact with other users had a more positive experience with social media. According to Rob Whitley, Ph.D. for Psychology Today, passive social media can lead to fear of missing out or like your own life isn’t measuring up. By taking an active approach to how you use social media, you’ll feel more in control and connected. 

5. Practice Critical Thinking 

Social media is often flooded with illusions of perfection and high emotiveness and reactivity. By employing critical thinking skills, you can free yourself of the damaging effects of social media on your mental health. Critical thinking can help you understand the true nature of what you’re looking at and whether what’s trending is really worth your time and consideration. Critical thinking is the ability to examine information rationally, which is done by constantly asking questions and being aware of your mental processes. 

And if you’re worried that a loved one’s mental health is negatively impacted by their social media usage, encourage them to get help and be there for them. Don’t know how? Jack.org offers free tools to help young leadersBe There for friends struggling with mental health. Make sure to check outJack.org for more info. As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re partnering with Jack.org by donating $1 to them for each Good Morning Snore Solution sale in an effort to support youth struggling with mental health.


References:

Chaffey D. Global social media statistics research summary 2022. Smart Insights. 29 Mar, 2022.https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

Teens and social media use: What's the impact? Mayo Clinic website. Feb. 26, 2022

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teens-and-social-media-use/art-20474437#:~:text=Social%20media%20is%20a%20big,%2C%20Facebook%2C%20Instagram%20or%20Snapchat.

Schønning V, Hjetland GJ, Aarø LE, Skogen JC. Social Media Use and Mental Health and Well-Being Among Adolescents - A Scoping Review.Front Psychol. 2020;11:1949. Published 2020 Aug 14.doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01949

How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media? SocialBuddy.https://socialbuddy.com/how-much-time-do-people-spend-on-social-media/

Escobar-Viera CG, Shensa A, Bowman ND, et al. Passive and Active Social Media Use and Depressive Symptoms Among United States Adults.Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2018;21(7):437-443.doi:10.1089/cyber.2017.0668

Whitley R. What Is the Link Between Social Media Use and Youth Mental Health?Psychology Today. Posted July 16, 2021.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-men/202107/what-is-the-link-between-social-media-use-and-youth-mental-health#:~:text=Research%20indicates%20that%20heavy%20utilization,Of%20Missing%20Out%20(FOMO).





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