How does excessive use of social media affect us?

As you are reading this, a WhatsApp notification might pop up on your screen. A few minutes later, someone could post a photo on Instagram that you want to see. It’s also possible, that you share a great message for Twitter and a meme on Facebook.

This is the world today: social media is here to stay and to facilitate many things in our daily lives, such as quick interaction with others and finding those old friends that we have not seen in a long time. However, it is not a secret that excessive use of social networks does affect us.

The excessive use of these social media platforms in these devices has made a negative impact on so many people. You may need to take a break to know if there is an excessive use of social media, which can later on turn into an addiction.

How do you recognize that social media is affecting you? Answer: when your personal life begins to change due to spending a lot of time on social media. Although it is difficult to determine how much is “a lot of time”, an indicator is when that time takes away from you spaces that you used before to share with your loved ones, studies, work and even food and rest.

 Facts about social media

Before talking about how social media affects you, let’s look at some data.

  • Of the social networks, Facebook is the most used in the world, with about 2.8 billion people ; then there is YouTube with 2.3 billion and later WhatsApp with 2000 million users.
  • In the world there are almost 5000 million people who have an internet connection; in other words, out of every six individuals, one is connected to the Internet.
  • The majority of internet users are in the north and west of Europe and North America.

How does excessive use of social media affect us?

It is important to clarify that these social media platfroms by themselves do not affect us negatively. In fact, networks can positively affect those who use them in a controlled way. You must be alert to the signs that indicate that it is affecting you in a negative way.

I want to name a few positives:

  1. Social media has made people read more.
  2. Social media has served to maintain connection with people we do not see frequently.
  3. Social media allows sharing with others and living in community.
  4. Social media has positive effects on study and work.
  5. Social media helps change our way of thinking and listening to others.
  6. Social media allows you to be informed about what is happening in the world.
  7. Social media has shown to be effective in finding emotional support in adolescents.

Now, how does social media affect you negatively?

  1. Social media requires time . Hasn’t it happened to you that you enter a social network for a few minutes , but then you notice that time has passed without realizing it? Well, social media has this effect: they are designed so that we spend on these platforms as much as possible.
  2. Social media produces dependency. Very attached to the previous point, it is common for many people to check the mobile device every second. The need to confirm who wrote you or what happens while you are not looking at the cell phone affects negatively. It takes time away from spending time with friends, laughing, listening to others.
  3. Social media can affect you emotionally. A study by the Royal Society for Public Health confirmed that social media affects adolescents, causing them anxiety, depression, sleep problems and insecurity. To find out, 1,500 young people between 14 and 24 years old were consulted. Do you feel identified?
  4. Social media affects self-esteem and body image . Social media has the ability to show the lives of others; sometimes what you see is nothing more than an illusion that affects self-perception. It is estimated that about 95 million photos are uploaded on Instagram every dayIt has also been confirmed that teenage girls tend to modify their personal appearance the more time they spend on social media.
  5. Social media affects sleep . It is common that the last thing to do before sleeping is to check the cell phone. This practice, although common, is harmful because it causes your mind not to find rest before going to bed.
  6. Social media has increased cyber bullying . Seven out of ten young people have experienced bullying through social media. Messaging apps have been able to spread messages very quickly, no matter who it hurts. The bullying in social media affects academic performance, produces anxiety, depression, insomnia, eating disorders and feelings of loneliness.
  7. Social media produces technological diseasesNomophobia : it is a form of anxiety that originates from the feeling of fear of running out of mobile devices. FOMO: it responds to the acronym fear of missing out. It is another form of compulsive anxiety that translates as the ‘fear of missing something.’

Recommendations 

As I have said, these social media platforms by themselves are not bad; in fact, good use brings positive results. I want to leave you some recommendations so that social media won’t affect you negatively.

  1. Limit the notifications you receive from social media . One strategy that social networks use so that their users are in constant connection is to send notifications all the time. One measure against this is that you can disable pop-up messages.
  2. Establish your schedules in networks . I know you want to be connected all the time, but social media is not a necessity that cannot wait a few hours. Set times of use during the day. Some mobiles have options to regulate these hours.
  3. Take a breath! Detoxing from social media can decrease anxiety. It’s okay that you want to do a tech detox for a while. If you think that a social network is affecting you, delete it or log out for a period of time.
  4. Restrict access. Although social media seeks interaction with others, it is important that you know that you have the power to choose who sees what you post and what you see.
  5. Your identity is important. Be careful choosing which apps you give your sensitive information to. On the Internet there are all kinds of people looking for your data. Improper handling of this can affect you and you may regret it later.

Social media can become powerful allies in your daily life. You just need to be aware of the signs that tell you that something is not right. Now tell me what you think: how have you been affected negatively when you spend a lot of time on social media? Leave me your comments.

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