Social media is becoming more and more popular with each passing day. More than ⅔ of all Internet users use social media, which suggests that almost 2 out of 3 people prefer to spend their time online socializing rather than working or sleeping.
Social media has psychological effects on its users, the most prominent psychological effect being addiction.
People who are addicted to social media neglect their health and personal development in favor of spending time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr and Imgur.
These websites focus on user interaction with one another instead of posts from businesses or groups that allow for an improved user experience which leads to constant and daily use.
Social media has become a part of our daily lives
with 37% of teens say they are online on a near-constant basis. This means that people spend most of their waking hours glued to social media sites, which results in psychological effects ranging from depression to anxiety.
It is true that many psychological benefits are found when using social media sites, but the psychological impact of being constantly connected to our friends, family members and acquaintances from around the world for an average of 2 hours a day is overwhelming.
People tend to neglect their personal relationships in favor of spending more time on social media sites, which can lead to psychological problems such as depression.
There is a psychological disorder known as nomophobia which refers to the fear of being separated from your mobile device and it is especially prominent in young people who tend to be the biggest users of social media.
Our psychological wellbeing is directly affected by the amount of time we spend checking out what friends are doing, seeing “what’s happening” and scrolling through posts.
When this becomes a daily habit, it has psychological effects that can be both positive and negative.
One psychological effect of being a daily social media user is anxiety. Anxiety is our body’s way of responding to an impending stressor – and we know that scrolling through Facebook or Twitter can be quite stressful!
Scrolling through your newsfeed, you may feel flashes of anger (when you see someone has posted something offensive) or sadness (when you see very happy posts from people you don’t know that well).
Social comparison is also a psychological effect that social media has on our self-esteem.
Studies say that we tend to compare ourselves to others more on social media than in real life, and this psychological effect magnifies the psychological effects of comparison.
Social media can be addictive and make it hard to focus on what’s happening in real life
For people who are addicted to social media, it can be difficult to focus on their work or studies. It is also hard for them to meet new people in real life or maintain old relationships without something happening through social media.
Over time, this can cause problems with their psychological well-being.
Social media addiction usually does not occur suddenly. People who are addicted to social media usually develop psychological problems gradually, which makes it difficult to notice at first.
It also causes people to become introverted and antisocial, as they cannot express themselves properly without the help of a screen or keyboard.
It can cause people not to be able to express their true emotions and thoughts because they are not facing to face with someone.
Different psychological problems will arise based on how often a person is using social media and the platform they use it from.
It can lead to feelings of inadequacy if you compare your life to others’ highlights reel
These psychological effects are directly linked to the psychological effect of social comparison. Social comparison is where we compare ourselves to other people, taking note of their life successes and failures – whether they have an awesome job, a beautiful house or a new car, for example – and deciding which areas we fall short in.
This becomes a psychological effect when negative thoughts start to set in – “why don’t I have those things?” or “look at them, they seem to be doing much better than me” – and can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
This psychological effect is heightened by social media, where highlights reels of other people’s lives are presented on a daily basis.
Social comparison is also linked to the psychological effects that come from increased self-consciousness and neuroticism. An increased self-consciousness means that we start to see ourselves more carefully, and dwell on the mistakes we make rather than our strengths.
This psychological effect can cause feelings such as guilt and embarrassment, so it’s unsurprising that social media also brings with it an increased risk of neuroticism – a psychological state where your negative thoughts rapidly become overwhelming.
A new study has found that people who are heavy users of social media are more likely to feel socially isolated.
The new study, published in the November 2016 issue of the “Psychological Science” journal, examined 1,787 adults for one year. Researchers compared respondents’ psychological well-being with how much they used seven major social media sites: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit.
The study was led by psychological scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and co-authored by psychologists from Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard Business School.
Researchers concluded that people who use social media more than two hours a day have twice the risk of psychological disorders compared to their peers who use social media less than thirty minutes a day.
However, psychological scientists at the University of Michigan found that more time spent on Facebook was related to declines in self-reported health but not psychological well-being.
Researcher Eric Vanman and his team looked at how psychological health changed as people’s amount of time using Facebook increased and found that the psychological health of Facebook users decreased as their use of the site increased.
However, this relationship was not statistically significant when looking at how time spent on other activities predicted changes in psychological well-being.
We may also experience FOMO – fear of missing out on something important or good while online.
Social media users are constantly checking to see what their peers are doing, whether they are eating at a new restaurant or attending an event.
By obsessively following our friends’ posts, we may feel disappointed by our own lives as we try to make them as interesting as those of others.
One psychological effect is FOMO – the fear of missing out on something important or good while online.
The more time we spend on social media, the less self-worth and confidence we feel.
We also become desensitized to violence in society. All of these psychological effects are detrimental to our mental health.
It’s important that you take a break from your phone every now and then so you can maintain healthy relationships with friends, family, coworkers, or even yourself! You deserve it!