As we see 2022 draw to a close, we’ve been thinking about our 2023 New Years’ resolutions. In thinking about what you want your resolutions to be, it is an excellent time to reflect on your year, review the highs and lows, and renew your goals to make next year better. In recent years, when reflecting on the year past, one thing we could all agree on was that the increase in our screen time and social media use was too high, and this could definitely be reflected in our moods throughout the year.
Our goal for this blog was to strip back and speak plainly about social media’s effects on users’ mental health. One thing we always hear at RiskEye is that nobody wants to read the negative. The harmful impact of social media has been a contentious issue in the media in 2022. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, social media usage has increased exponentially across all age groups and generations, and as usage has increased, harm has increased exponentially.
At its core, social media is a powerful communication tool that has become an integral part of daily life. With nearly 60% of the world’s population using the internet (over 4 billion users), it is an unavoidable part of human interaction. One of the most common consequences of the growth of social media has been the exponential rise in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, particularly in young people.
While social media is an incredible tool and source of information and entertainment, it is good to remember that regardless of age, social media has the potential to negatively impact your mental health. You are not immune.
Social media is an addiction. In the real world, people only talk about themselves between 30-40% of the time, whereas on social media and online, that number jumps to 80%. When someone posts online and receives any form of positive feedback, be it through comments, likes, or messages, they feel a rush of dopamine, which is an addictive feeling. Through seeking this kind of validation constantly, mental health takes its toll when that positive reinforcement doesn’t come.
The UK Online Safety Bill aims to hold social media platforms accountable for this online harm, but what can we do on a more personal level? Instead of waiting for regulations like the UK bill hopes to introduce, we at RiskEye want to encourage others to create a safer social landscape by promoting positive online behaviours.
So what kind of New Year’s resolutions can we make when it comes to social media?
- Stop checking social media before bed
For many people, scrolling social media before bed is part of their nightly routine. Scrolling through negative content right before your sleep can affect your sleep and the way you dream. Try introducing a no-phone rule an hour or two before bed, and try reading, or watching your favourite TV show instead.
2. Set Usage Limits
Scheduling a time of day in which you consume the news so that you do not feel as though you’re missing anything, but also you are not over-consuming, is a great way to give your brain a rest and digest what you’ve read or watched without feeling overwhelmed. Try to limit yourself to 20-25 minutes per day. Some phones allow you to set time limits on your apps via your settings and will lock the app once you have used up your allotted time. Alternatively, swap out social media scrolling for watching the news on the television, or reading a newspaper.
3. Look for the good news
If you do find yourself itching to read up on current events, try looking at ‘good news’ news sources like the good news network. Nowadays, news on social media is based around clicks and click-bait – even reputable news sources are guilty of targeting their audiences this way. Negativity travels much faster. Don’t subscribe to this way of thinking, not everything going on in the world is negative, in the real world outside of social media, so many positive things are happening. Why don’t you check it out for yourself? https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/
4. Stop following accounts that make you feel low
If you do find you are comparing yourself to others, don’t be afraid to unfollow those accounts. It’s easy to compare your life with the lives of others, whether it be in relation to your body, clothes, house, car or social life. Your social media is under your control, look for positive accounts that inspire you.
5. Don’t interact
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of debating strangers online. The online world in 2022 is full of clickbait and internet trolls – so don’t engage with it. The more you engage with negative posts, the more of a boost that post will get from the algorithm, so you’re really just promoting it, and telling the algorithm that’s the kind of content you enjoy. Remember that bots and echo chambers exist, and there is more good out there than bad.
Our last piece of advice here at RiskEye is to be kind to yourself. As the world remerges post-global health crisis, many are struggling to adjust to ‘normal’ life again. Take it easy on yourself, and remember that the world is a very different place outside of the internet.
RiskEye gives you the power to anticipate, detect, and accommodate issues online in real-time, before they become a threat or harm your business. Check out our site to find out how we prevent, protect, and fix for businesses all over Europe, the UK, and the U.S. Our software catches all conversation to, from, or about you in real-time so you never miss a thing!