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“Is Social Media Making Us Miserable? Impact of Screen time on our mental health”

Introduction: In today’s digital age, spending quite a lot ‘screen time’ on social web media has become an integral part of our daily lives. The social web refers to the entire online landscape where people connect and interact. This includes social media platforms, online forums, and any other online space where we can share information and build relationships. On the other hand, screen time is the amount of time spent using a device with a screen, such as a smartphone, computer, or even a tablet. 

Social web and social media: The core aspect of the social web is our ability to connect and interact. It can involve sharing content, conversing, or simply building community. On the other hand, social media platforms are specific websites and applications designed for social interaction. They typically have features like user profiles, friend lists, news feeds, messaging systems, and content-sharing options. Some popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat. 

Positive Side of Social Web: These platforms have undoubtedly led to many advantages, such as instant communication, networking, and staying up-to-date on current affairs, trends, and technology. These platforms are also helping people find employment opportunities. Besides, they are valuable for educational purposes. 

However, increased screen time is a significant cost to our mental wellbeing. This time we spend is growing at a fast pace. This shift towards a digital lifestyle has sparked concerns about its impact on our mental health. In this article, we are going to delve into how the social web and the screen time surge affect us mentally in many ways. 

Understanding the Impact

The Rise of Screen Time

Screen time has seen a dramatic rise in recent years. Most of us spend a significant part of our day staring at screens from young children to adults. 

According to the latest available data, the average person spends almost 7 hours per day on screens connected to the internet. This increase is partly due to digital devices’ convenience and entertainment value. However, spending too much time on these devices, especially on social media, can have negative effects on our mental health. It can make us miserable. 

The Role of Social Media

People spend an average of 2.5 hours per day only on social media. While social media platforms can connect us with others, they can also lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression. Comparing our lives with the near-perfect and edited images we see online can make us feel like we are not good enough. Fake profiles are constructed to boost our social image artificially. It is called ‘fake prolificity.’ Moreover, the constant need for likes and followers can become an obsession, affecting our self-esteem and happiness.

How Screen Time Affects Mental Health

There are numerous studies available that establish a close link between screen time and mental health. Some studies have shown that the psychological pressure on college students caused by COVID-19 is particularly prominent in different age groups.  

Disrupted Sleep Patterns

Excessive screen time, especially before bedtime, can interfere with sleep. Lack of sleep affects the physical and mental health and psychosocial function of people, especially young people. The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep. Teenagers using social media before going to bed shorten their sleep time. Poor sleep quality can lead to fatigue, irritability, and decreased concentration, impacting our overall mental wellbeing.

Increased Anxiety and Depression

Studies have shown a link between excessive screen time and higher levels of anxiety and depression. This is particularly true for people who spend much time on social media. The constant exposure to negative news, online bullying, and the pressure to present a perfect life can take a toll on our mental health.

Social Isolation

While social media can make us feel connected, it can also lead to social isolation. It is a great irony. We relate to thousands in virtual world, but are getting lonely. Physical interaction time is getting reduced.  Therefore, spending less time online can increase face-to-face interactions with friends and family. Real-life social interactions are crucial for our mental health, as they help us feel supported and connected.

Impact on Self-Esteem

Social media can negatively impact our self-esteem. Seeing others’ success stories, travel photos or fitness achievements can make us question our lives. This comparison trap can lead to feelings of envy, inadequacy, and low self-worth.

Tips to Mitigate the Effects

Set Screen Time Limits

One way to combat the adverse effects of screen time is to set limits. Allocate specific times for using digital devices and stick to them. It can help reduce our overall screen time and encourage healthier habits. Nowadays, mobile phones have a feature to limit time on social media platforms. We can set phone screen time from settings. 

Digital Detoxification

Regular breaks from digital devices, or digital detox, can be beneficial. A digital detox is a period when a person willingly refrains from using digital devices such as smartphones, computers, and social media platforms. We should designate certain times of the day or week when we disconnect from all digital screens. Use this time to engage in activities that make us happy and relaxed, like reading a book or spending time in a park or neighbourhood forest area. 

Engage in Real-life Social Activities

We should consciously spend more time with friends and family in person. Real-life interactions with friends can improve our mood and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. There are ways to enrich our social life. Join clubs, take up a new hobby, or go for a walk with a friend. One of the reasons why we are becoming more mentally sick is getting socially disconnected because of a sharp increase in screen time. Whatever spare time we had earlier is now going for digital life. Many studies have confirmed this trend.  

Limit Social Media Use

Be mindful of your social media use. Limit your time on these platforms and be selective about the content you consume. Follow accounts that inspire and uplift you, and avoid those that make you feel inadequate.

Seek Professional Help

If you find that screen time and social media are significantly impacting your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can provide you with strategies to manage your screen time and address any underlying issues.

Conclusion

The rise in screen time and social media use has undeniable effects on our mental health. While these digital tools offer many benefits, using them wisely is essential to prevent adverse impacts on our wellbeing. By setting limits, engaging in real-life activities, and being mindful of our online habits, we can enjoy the digital world without compromising our mental health. Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance.