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Is Social Media Hurting Your Self-Esteem?

For something that is used so often and by so many, can it really be that bad?

Using a cellphone for social media, self esteem

I’m sure you’ve heard a rumor or two about the negative effects of social media, but does anyone really know if they’re true? Does social media truly affect your mental health and self-esteem? According to different studies and research, social media has indeed been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxietydepressionstress, and hindered social skills.

But why? What is it about sites like Facebook and Instagram, which were made to connect with others, that ironically makes us even more lonely and hinders our ability to truly connect with others? Well, the effects on mental health have been linked to users focusing on the need to gain “likes” or followers as a means to increase their self-worth, making toxic comparisons with online friends’ lives, and having too little face-to-face time to truly connect with others and the societal pressure of perfectionism. Other connections between social media and mental health are still being researched.

Related: Screen Time for Children: How Much Is Okay?

So, what can we do about it?

According to research, in 2019, the average person spends more than two hours a day scrolling through social media feeds. And that’s just the average person! For a lot of people, that number of hours spent scrolling is much higher. A new study shows that to improve or sustain your mental health, you should reduce your social media time to 30 minutes a day or less.

There’s a whole world outside of media and screens that so many of us are missing out on because of the addictive and enticing social media universe. While social media is a great way to connect with friends and family, promote positive messages, share hilarious memes, and even grow your business, it should be used in moderation—like all good things. If used wisely and moderately, you can scroll through your newsfeed filled with your friends’ baby announcements, engagements, and vacations with a smile on your face—feeling content with the direction your life is headed.  

How to reduce social media use 

Delete apps off your smartphone – Having apps on your phone makes it easier to open them at a moment’s notice (and soon, you’ve just lost an hour scrolling through mindless posts). You can still log in through the web or from a desktop computer if there’s something you need to check.

Set etiquette boundaries – If you’re speaking with someone face-to-face, resist the urge to use your phone or other device. Make it a rule not to have devices during mealtime.

Change notification settings – turn off anything that isn't essential except for direct messages or mentions, that way you’re only getting notified when a real person is messaging you.

Set limits – Don’t keep your phone within reach of your bed—this will help you not use your phone before bedtime and first thing when you wake in the morning. Use a separate alarm clock other than your device to keep you from reaching for your phone on your nightstand.

Pretty soon, you’ll be back in control of how much you’re on your smartphone and you’ll be more mindful about social media use.Related: 4 Reasons to Ditch Your Device

While you’re here, check out our other articles on healthy living. For information on our medical and dental plans, visit selecthealth.org/plans

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Post Author

Chakell Wardleigh
Chakell has a B.A. in English and is a magazine editor. She enjoys exercising, laughing with family and friends, and online shopping. She strives to be as versatile as cauliflower, which she often turns into pizza.