Social media has revolutionized entertainment, business operations, and even healthcare. However, experts have warned of numerous drawbacks and trade-offs that come with the use of social media.
Anxiety over current events
With social media, news travels faster than ever. As platforms compete for views (and ad revenue), users are bombarded with news stories from around the world or across town. Unfortunately, vulnerable individuals may experience worse anxiety or depression after overexposure to news about:
- Wars and conflicts
- Potential legislative changes
- Controversial judicial rulings
- Political campaigns and elections
- Local stories of violence and crime
Avoiding people may be more difficult online than in person, especially for those with multiple social media accounts. This makes it difficult for individuals attempting to avoid a bully or leave abusive or dysfunctional relationships. This can lead to stress and even fears for physical safety.
Behavioral health clients with anxiety may benefit from limiting their social media use and consumption of news. Encouraging mindfulness and acceptance may help ease some of this anxiety.
While social media can help us stay connected with loved ones, some studies suggest that it does not necessarily get the job done. Looking at photos from other peoples’ parties or relationships, while comparing follower counts, can prompt feelings of loneliness and a lack of connection.
One study in Lebanese adults found a strong correlation between unhealthy social media use and increased feelings of loneliness. Another study found that loneliness associated with social media use varied by age, with greater loneliness among younger users.
Even worse? There’s evidence that social media creates a kind of cycle of dependence—encouraging loneliness while claiming to offer a solution. With clients struggling with loneliness, discuss how social media may contribute, and what alternatives might help alleviate it.
Body and lifestyle image
Humans are social creatures, so it’s natural to compare ourselves to others. However, social media can encourage users to take it to an unhealthy level.
A person who compares their own weight, appearance, health, fashion choices, or fitness levels to others on social media may develop an unrealistic and unhealthy self-image. One study from 2019 found a clear association between social media use and disordered eating perceptions among adolescents.
Social media users may receive a flood of messages through their chosen platforms. Unfortunately, not every message is positive or even neutral. Social media can also be used for online harassment or “cyberbullying,” especially among adolescents.
Who hasn’t stayed up too late scrolling through social media? Unfortunately, screen time later in the day increases exposure to blue light, which can interfere with melatonin production, promote wakefulness, and disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Limiting exposure to social media could help reduce screen time, which may improve sleep quality and lead to better mental healthsymptoms.
Social media can have numerous negative effects on mental health and well-being. Behavioral health providers should consider social media usage when creating treatment plans and encouraging healthy lifestyle decisions for their clients.
Assessing your clients for loneliness, anxiety, and other mental health risks can help guide your treatment decisions. BestNotes’ OutcomeTools feature lets you deliver and analyze questionnaires to your clients so you can generate valuable baseline and outcome data. Contact us today to find out more and schedule your free demo!