Social media has become a part of most everyone’s daily lives, but too much screen-time can be harmful towards those who struggle with mental health issues.
While being honest about the role the internet plays, it’s clear to see that digital media has an interesting way of infecting the psyche. It can intensify one’s critical inner voice when watching other people form cliques which they aren’t a part of, photos of celebrities who look unattainably perfect and influencers whose success and following prompts envy and self-doubt. Social media can also make cyber-bullying instantaneous and frequent, resulting in self-harm and sometimes even suicide.
According to a Pew research study conducted in 2020, about two-thirds of Americans (64%) say social media has a mostly negative effect on the way things are going in the country today.
Those who have a negative view of the impact of social media mention, in particular, misinformation, hate and harassment they see on social media. They also have concerns about users believing everything they see or read — or not being sure about what to believe.
Han Johnson, a sophomore journalism major, is a frequent user of Instagram and Snapchat and believes these apps negatively affect her mental health.
“Instagram’s algorithm is designed to show you things it thinks you want to see, and for a lot of users that’s unattainable fashion and beauty standards. This can severely impact a young person’s mental health,” Johnson said.
According to Medical News Today, unregulated use of social media leads to a constant fear of missing out, which many refer to as FOMO. People may feel as though others are having better experiences and more fun, which can affect self-esteem and cause mental health issues. Individuals may compulsively check their phones at the cost of missing sleep or choose social media over in-person relationships or meet-ups.
Medical News Today also noted that prioritizing social media networking over physical and social interactions increases the chances of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. People can help themselves avoid some of the adverse effects of social media by limiting use to 30 minutes a day, in turn reducing FOMO and the associated negative consequences.
By being more conscious of the amount of time they spend on social media, a person may notice improvements in their general mood, focus, and overall mental health.
Just one-in-ten Americans say social media sites have a mostly positive effect on the way things are going, and one-quarter say these platforms have a neither positive nor negative effect, according to the Pew research study.
“I think social media can be used to HELP mental health rather than harm it. An example of how this could be done would be people posting more positive stuff,” Johnson said. “I follow a psychologist on Instagram who posts positive mental health stuff everyday, so maybe more stuff like that.”
At the University Counseling Center, students can find a team of dedicated professionals who strive to offer the best care possible in an atmosphere of acceptance and respect. They offer all services in accordance with the legal limits of confidentiality prescribed by the State of Mississippi and with the direction of the Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers.
The Counseling Center is staffed by licensed, professional counselors and social workers, as well as graduate assistant student counselors from the counseling, psychology and social work programs. The Counseling Center provides a variety of counseling services, including individual and group sessions, for diverse mental health concerns using a brief therapy model. Services for students are free and confidential.