My recent searches:
Social media and mental health
Media and self esteem
Social media effects on teens and young adults
My recent findings:
Increased levels of depression and anxiety
Cyberbullying and comparison
The realness of this situation in 2018 should worry you.
We have taken tools that are undeniably impressive pieces of technology, and turned them into devices used for the decline of our mental health, wellness, and self esteem.
My freshman year of college, we were tasked with writing an in-depth research paper on a topic of our choosing. Mine? Social Media and Self Esteem.
Throughout the semester, I gathered enough evidence to fill a 25 page paper with the negative effects of social media. At the time, I had been struggling with my use of social media, and found it so fascinating that this was a growing trend, especially among women.
Some troubling facts:
From 2005 to 2014, the percentage of adolescents experiencing major depressive episodes jumped from 8.7% to 11.3%. The most significant jump happened in groups ages 12-20. (PSYCOM)
Youtube was created in 2005, and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram soon followed.
A 2011 study showed that women aged 12-19 who spent more time on Facebook had more of a risk for developing bulimia, anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative self image, etc. (Read the post here)
I remember writing in my paper that girls as young as 7 years old – elementary schoolers, let that sink in– were reporting feeling as though they were too fat or not as pretty as their friends.
When I was 13, my friends were all starting to join gyms. Since my parents didn’t allow me to at the time, I started feeling as though I was the fat friend. All my friends were getting skinnier and healthier, and I wasn’t. At 13.
Learning all of these things truly broke my heart.
This idea of perfection and beauty that is so heavily promoted isn’t just affecting us teenagers. It’s speaking to younger children too. At 13, at 7, you shouldn’t be worrying about your fat content. You shouldn’t be stressing about your pants size or your bra size. But that’s the reality now.
While writing my paper, I was able to recount my personal struggles with my body image, and monitor my own social media use. For years, I had been exposed to those perfect-bodied, gorgeous women who make their beauty seem so effortless. And it absolutely affected my self esteem. Sometimes it still does.
There was a period in high school that I truly thought I was the vision of health. I worked out every single day, ate healthily, and adored my body. But looking back, I was treating my body like garbage. Those workouts I thought were so healthy? Excessive cardio, over an hour every day. Those healthy meals? Often consisted of a single rice cake for breakfast and some chicken for dinner. I restricted myself so much that there were days I didn’t eat, and when I did, I felt guilt. But that’s a story for another day.
But that whole period of time, I had my fitness influencers I was looking up to. I had those Thinspiration blogs that I followed on Tumblr that idolize 4 inch thigh gaps and sharp hip bones and strong collarbones. I had this idea in my head that to be beautiful, I needed to be as thin as possible, blonde, tan, etc. Because that’s what I saw all day.
I ran a little poll on my Instagram.
I asked my followers a series of questions revolving around social media and their usage, and here are the stats.
28% of people said social media makes them feel better about themselves, while 72% of people said it makes them feel worse.
29% spend 0-2 hours on social media per day, and 71% spend over 2 hours every day.
94% of people said that social media has the ability to change their mood.
And 84% of people said they follow more influencers than brands.
The takeaway: the majority of people say that social media makes them feel worse, and they’re spending a lot of time on social media each day.
These apps are designed to hook you…
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever your media of choice, is designed to make you stay on the app or site as long as possible.
(Side note: now that I have started this blog, I understand the usefulness of social media, and am a regular user myself. I see these sites as a business tool and connection tool rather than a framework for what I need to be. But it took a hell of a long time for me to change my relationship with them)
Those little heart icons that pop up when you get a like, and those flashing notifications are created because our brains love them. That instant gratification gives us all those feel-good feelings, and so we stay. And advertisers/influencers have capitalized on that, which is honestly brilliant business practice, but not so brilliant humanity practice.
and its working.
According to a report by the New York Times, both adults and children are checking their cell phones 150 times per day (every six minutes).[bctt tweet=”According to the NYT, 1 in 3 people would rather give up sex than give up their smartphone. Cmon now. #NoMediaDay” username=”@love__laney”]
One in three people reported they’d rather give up sex than give up their smartphone.
People are turning to their cell phones when there is just a single moment they’re not stimulated, like waiting in line or sitting in traffic. Our brains are becoming so used to this constant flow of new information and media that we’ve all forgotten how to just be.
In fact, there’s a freakin test to see how addicted you are to your cell phone. The Smartphone Compulsion Test. Answer yes to more than 5 of these questions, and you’ve got yourself a mighty strong relationship with your phone. While the test may seem dramatic (it recommends therapy if you answer with a certain number of yes’s,) it will certainly open your eyes to your relationship with your cell phone. Do with those results as you wish.
But please, do yourself a favor. Take a no-media day.
I’m not going to tell you to delete all social media, I know that’s unrealistic. As I mentioned before, my relationship with social media now is so much different than it was a few years ago, and I see it in all of its business-friendly glory. But if you find yourself wasting too much time on your phone, or noticing how a scroll through Instagram has changed your mood for the day, take a break.
Stimulate your mind other ways:
- Read a book
- Take a walk without listening to music, really hear the sounds of nature
- Workout mindfully
- Fully focus on your work
Whatever it is you choose to do during your days, just do it media free. I’m taking my no-media day this weekend, when I’m up visiting my momma with the rest of my family.
Be present. Be mindful.
And be well.
Please please let me know what you think of this post, and what your score is on the Smartphone Compulsion Test! I’m so curious 🙂
Sources used for this post: