Recent studies have shown that not only does the overuse of social media have a detrimental impact on your mental wellbeing, but uses time that could otherwise be put to better use. Let’s investigate this latest research a little further.
Social media addiction
On a global basis, Statista estimates that there are 4.7 billion users of social media who spend 147 minutes on average per day on various platforms. Some research pushes the average usage up to 3 hours per day, while others say usage is much higher amongst the younger generations.
Many people lose track of how much time they spend on social media, which, itself is a tell-tale sign that there might be an issue.
If you are neglecting important areas of your life, are overly concerned about social media, and have uncontrollable urges to log on, you are likely to be exhibiting signs that you may be addicted.
Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction similar to substance abuse or any other kind of addiction. The brain’s reward area triggers dopamine during interaction with social media platforms, and addiction can form with excessive use. According to Statista, 30% of the US population identifies themselves as addicted to social media.
These figures are alarming. Most research tells us that too much social media harms our wellbeing, yet, despite this warning, we still reach for our smartphones, tablets, or even both.
One study found that 58% of Americans believed social media contributed to anxiety, dissatisfaction with life, fear of missing out, and body image issues.
The use of social media has been shown to be both time-consuming and addictive. Photo: Pexels.com
Getting the balance right
It is nearly impossible to avoid any interactions with social media. It proved to be an essential tool and crucial for sharing information, including up-to-date advice, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media continues to provide advice and influence us in all areas of our life.
A study led by Dr. Julia Brailovskaia at the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at Ruhr-Universität Bochum looked at how to reduce the negative impact of social media with increased physical activity in more than 600 volunteers over two weeks.
The study found that those participants who consciously reduced their social media intake by 30 minutes per day and, instead, used this time for physical activity positively impacted their mental health.
The effects lasted up to six months after the study ended. Volunteer ratings increased for both happiness and life satisfaction.
More astounding is that this simple but effective intervention does not require significant effort, nor does it t anything. It requires acknowledgment of time spent on social media and a conscious decision to use your allocated time differently.
Swapping out a 30-minute walk, a free activity, instead of using this time for social media can have a long-lasting and positive impact on your mental health.
Swapping out social media time for exercise can improve your mental wellbeing. Photo: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.com
Making a conscious decision to break the habit
The good news is that less social media and more physical activity can profoundly impact our well-being.
Even if we cannot reduce or limit our social media usage during our working days, there is a strong argument for taking a social media break during the weekend.
Why not consciously take an annual social media break during holiday times to fully recuperate from your social media usage and reengage with nature? As research has shown, it can have a positive impact on your physical and emotional well-being.
Have you considered a social media holiday, or have you found taking such a break beneficial? Let us know in the comments.