Can Social Media Be Good For You?
Do you spend a lot of time just scrolling on your phone? Chances are, you’ve been caught up in checking your social media feeds. It’s certainly a great way to stay connected with friends and family while keeping tabs on trending news and memes. However, prolonged screen time causes eye fatigue, and using a device can prevent you from actually interacting with the people around you. Social media has also been linked to causing negative effects on mental health because of experiences like cyberbullying and comparing one’s reality to the “ideal life” presented by influential figures.
However, it’s important to remember that social media is merely a platform. How you use it and the kind of content you subscribe to are both completely under your control. If you want to change your relationship with social media into a positive one, here are a few points that you should consider improving on.
Set Boundaries on Usage
If the first thing you do after waking up is to check your phone for the time, stop there. Resist the urge to check your notifications and scroll through your social media feeds. Save the earliest part of your day for positive and productive activities like meditation, doing some light exercises, and having breakfast with your family. This is important for setting the tone for the rest of your day and helps ensure that you start it in a good mood.
Notifications can disrupt workflow so you might want to turn those off completely. Instead, consider scheduling your social media usage, like during a 15-minute mid-morning break or while you enjoy your afternoon coffee. If this seems too limiting, you can allow yourself to check it throughout the day but have rules for when you don’t allow it to disrupt you. For example, put phones away during meals so you can focus on eating and interacting with your table companions.
Stick to a Chosen Few
There are so many social media apps available but unless your work requires you to have access to all of them, consider keeping just three accounts and deleting everything else. Not only will this help you cut down on your screen time, but also allow you to be more intentional about your usage. Different platforms offer different kinds of interactions, so it’s worth thinking about what your expectations are. Do you just care about life updates from your friends, or do you need to satisfy your curiosity about what your favorite actress is wearing or eating?
Think about why you use social media and stick to using the platforms that best support these goals. If being on them makes you feel stressed or angry, jealous or depressed, it might be time to deactivate your account and try a different platform instead.
Mute, Unfollow, or Block
Sometimes the negativity you feel is caused by just a few people. If that’s the case, it’s time to curate your feed and apply one of these three options. Most social platforms allow you to control the content that populates your feeds, so make full use of these features to focus on what will be good for you.
Stop following accounts that don’t make you feel good or inspired. If you get your news from social media, you can Unfollow the account so it doesn’t turn up on your feed and you can choose to read the news when you’re in a better mindset.
The Mute option is perfect for friends and family you want to stay connected to but share posts that you might find uncomfortable, annoying, or discouraging. This limits your online interactions without cutting them off, but if things take a toxic turn, it may be a better idea to simply Block them for good. Use the available controls to protect yourself from personalities that inflict abuse or cause stress because you deserve to feel safe and supported, even in online spaces.
Make Connections That Matter
Once you have gotten rid of negative social media interactions, replace them with healthy ones. You might find new friends who share the same hobbies and interests or even get life-saving support. For people in addiction recovery, in particular, social media connections can play a big role in maintaining their sobriety. There are even some who are far gone who drink dangerous substances. You might want to educate them on the dangers of drinking rubbing alcohol. There are even social media platforms that cater specifically to sober living, so there’s always support available for whoever needs it.
Social media is merely a tool. Whether it has positive or negative effects on your mental health depends largely on how you choose to use it. The good news is that you do have control, and you can start changing your relationship with social media right now.