Let me first state that social media will not come to your house, late at night, and quietly kill you in your sleep. But… Social media does hold the potential to cause health risks. Surprisingly since the first email was delivered in 1971, there has been many studies on the subject that controls our day to day actions.
Bring it Back to the Beginning
CNBC shows a 90 second history of social media while showing you all the important facts about each social media platform. Now keep in mind ALL of these platforms are part of the large family of social media. Are you on one of these platforms or are you someone who has their fingers in every pie? Well no matter how many platforms you are on, your well-being and mental health can be effected.
Are you going Mental?
The average American spends 7.6 hours a month on social media. Which honestly doesn’t seem like that much but seeing the recent statistics from Honor Whitemen stating
- 63% of Americans log onto Facebook daily
- 40% of Facebook users log onto Facebook multiple times a day
Seeing these high statistics has worried researches and have led people to think that social media is addictive. ADDICTIVE. So Dr. Cecile Andraessen and colleagues at University of Bergen in Norway have created Berge Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS). Now I bet you are curious and asking yourself, am I addicted? Why not take rate yourself of his scale and find out but don’t forget… Be Honest!
It looks like I scored not addicted to Facebook! What did you score? 4 or higher? Well hopefully you aren’t too addicted but there could be more health issues you need to look out for like psychological effects, negative effects on mental health, and eating disorders.
Psychological/ Mental Health
Have you ever compared yourself to someone you follow on a social media account? Don’t lie.. We ALL have so don’t be ashamed but could these comparisons be hurting your health? Yes. Most people conceal their negative emotion when broadcasting their “social media self.” This bottled in energy can be harmful and increase the amount of stress you are under.
- 2 out of 3 people have difficulty relaxing and sleeping after using social media
- High anxiety increase when having a face to face encounters
Cyber Bullying/ Eating Disorder
Cyber bullying has become more talked about recently since social media has grown into our lives. Most people would assume that cyber bullying is only talking about teens, and younger children who are on the sites but adults experience cyber bullying as well. This bullying, like any type of bullying, can lead to a person feeling lesser than their peers causing psychological and mental health problems and could lead to physical harm.
- 95% of teens who use social media have witnessed forms of cyber bullying
- 33% of teens have been a victim of cyber bullying
The cyber bullying isn’t the only thing we have noticed trending on social media. Eating disorders have also been highlighted on the same social media sites. Images of spindly legs, concave stomachs, and jutting ribs are a few ways eating disorders have emerged. Social Media is a free platform for pro-eating disorder sites to post their voice like “Pro-ana” and “Pro-mia.” This sites have amplified behaviors in someone with a eating disorder and promote them to share their story using hash tags. #thighgap #starvingforprofection
- On Twitter. Users engage in monthly challenges to limit calorie intake. 1 Like= 2 hours of fasting
- An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. 20 million women and 10 million men
With all of these negative impacts there are still ways to improve our health. We can take a close look at the posts we see and how/ when we use social media. We can change the way social media is impacting our lives but will you be one to stand behind these improvements?
Safety First… Ways to Improve our Social Media Sites
After seeing all of the negative effects of being on social media, won’t you think that we would cancel out some of the negativity. This might seem like a change to most but the fixes for these problems are becoming easier.
- Weeding out negative post by a simple hashtag search. On any social media site you will have an area where you can search for people or hashtags. Place the nasty hashtag in that search and what comes out of that search will blow your mind. EVERY post that shows up will be ones that have used the hashtag in the past. Why not take the time to report those post to get them removed. Taking down the bad and replace it with positive messages.
- Once taking down the horrible post, why not replace them with a positive message.NEDA has been upping their game on social media to promote a positive message by launching Proud2BMe in 2011. Proud2BMe an interactive website for teens and young adults to develop healthy attitudes about food, weight and body image. But we as individuals can make a difference to by sharing personal histories and photos of recovery. Also using positive hashtags such as #edrecovery, #edsoldier and #foodisfuel #prorecovery. Don’t be afraid to share your positive posts because it might just save a life.
- Pocket your phone. This is a tough one, I understand but give it a try. The Muse pocketed their cell phones for an ENTIRE week, yes, an entire 7 days. But their findings show this could improve our lives. They found that most people followed suite and put their phones away when seeing someone else doing the same. The interaction between people became more chatty and people enjoyed talking to each other more. And a strange but fascinating finding that people actually put more trust into the person they were talking to without a cellphone.
Take the time to talk to your coworkers and get to know the real them. But if you need to fulfill the urge to get on your social media accounts at least stop the negativity that you see on your feed. Let’s make the internet positive and a enjoyable place!