How social media is impacting our mental health

Danielle Bridge from ABC Life Support St Neots shares her social media tips

Spending too much time on social media? Danielle Bridge from ABC Life Support St Neots shares her tips. - Credit: Yui Mok/ PA Wire/ ABC

Social media can be a great tool to stay connected with loved ones – but the downside to it can lead to devastating effects on mental health. 

Excessive scrolling, comparison to celebrity lifestyles and venting on status updates can fuel feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation. 

Danielle Bridge, from ABC Life Support St Neots, joined forces with Cambridge Social Media on Facebook, to share her thoughts on how to improve our time on devices. 

“When you pick up your phone do you think ‘I am going on Facebook because I am bored’ or do you actually need to go on there to schedule some work posts, for instance,” she said. 

“The main thing to consider is how do you feel about your interactions [on social media]? 

“So many times people put their phones down and then feel depressed and have been triggered by something they have seen so then feel upset. 

“This then effects behaviour and people think ‘well, that was a waste of 20 minutes that I’ll never get back’. 

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Danielle suggests that people think about why they are picking up their phone in the first place and if it is a way of putting off other tasks that need to be done. 

She continued: “Sometimes you may be looking at your phone as a way of distraction, because then you never actually get done what you need to do. 

“The most important thing to think about is how do you feel when you come off it? Do you feel encouraged or negative?” 

One hundred million worldwide now have access to a smart phone on tablet, however, it was only in 2007 – just 14 years ago – that the first iPhone was released by Apple, followed by the Samsung Galaxy in 2010. 

Since the release of smartphones, mental health concerns have increased in children and young adults.  

Studies show that the rate of adolescents reporting symptoms of major depression in a given year increased by 52 per cent from 2005 to 2017. From 2009 to 2017, it grew by 63 per cent in adults ages 18 to 25. 

“If you are using a messaging app to speak to friends or family then that type of interaction is different,” Danielle explained. 

“Apps like this encourage human contact and you feel good; but you may not always feel that way from just the mindless scrolling. 

“You need to have awareness when you’re on social media; because it’s that blind picking up the phone to fill in the gaps that can cause problems.” 

During the webinar, Danielle also highlighted concerns around people sitting on phones when others are talking to them and displaying a different persona on social media to what is really going on in their lives. 

“You are essentially saying ‘this piece of software is more important than looking at you in the face’,” Danielle said. 

“It’s important to think about why you go to your status to post when you feel bad instead of going to a friend or parent. 

“You have actually built a persona on social media, but you have to remember to be clear on your intention; because this is attached to you. 

“We know that social media can be a good thing; it’s just down to how you choose to use it. 

“We all know people who put out a persona or a lifestyle that does not match when you speak to them. Some people do that because it’s a shield to not be seen as vulnerable or exposed.” 

Boundaries are a great place to start when wanting to take time away from our phones, and Danielle suggested ones such as no phone at the dinner table or in the bedroom. 

“It takes awareness and self-reflection and doing work on ourselves to get a better understanding of who you actually are as a person away from social media,” Danielle added. 

For more information on the work that ABC Life Support St Neots do visit: https://www.abclifesupport.co.uk/ 

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