5 Ways Social Media Has Negative Effects On Your Health

By Elena Chernov

What did our life look like before social media? Before Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat? Social media has become the trademark of our culture in the 21st century. It gives us access to more information than in all of history right at our fingertips. We receive more information in a week than an English scholar did in the 17th century during his whole lifetime.

On one hand, social media has opened many doors by connecting us with people from around the world. On the other hand it subtly steals away our time through countless hours a day.

We are constantly looking at our screens for new notifications, likes and just scrolling away at an endless newsfeed. We as a culture are addicted to social media. Experts say it can become dangerous for our physical and mental health.

Self-Image

A study of teens ages 13-18 from the UCLA Brain Mapping Center found that “receiving a high number of likes on photos showed increased activity in the reward center of the brain. Further, teens are influenced to like photos, regardless of content, based on high numbers of likes.” 

Looking at perfect pictures on social media has more influence on the mind than we realize. It can influence our body image, and how we view ourselves and others. Social media influences people to have this constant drive towards perfectionism. Comparing yourself has a big impact on your self-esteem.

“When we derive a sense of worth based on how we are doing relative to others, we place our happiness in a variable that is completely beyond our control,” says Dr Tim Bono.

Comparing your life to someone else’s highlight reel try will cause you to be anxious. It will cause you to view yourself less than. Social media isn’t real life. Shifting our focus to our life and what really matters can help us become more content and less anxious.

Also, becoming conscious of how much time we spend on social media can help us be present in our life and less concerned about everyone else’s.

One study from the University of Pittsburgh, found a connection between “time spent scrolling through social media apps and negative body image feedback.” 

Human Connection is Replaced

Social media can help you connect with people, but if those relationships aren’t meaningful you end up feeling more disconnected. Connecting with people in person has proven to improve your health. This digital age creates a disembodiment issue where you can be physically present but emotionally you are not.

You are living in the digital world that is your iPhone. You are everywhere and know about everyone at the same time. We can become so invested in our friends on social media. We may sometimes forget to look up from our screens and notice those that are closest to us.

American rapper Kayne West said in a recent interview, “people are addicted to social media people invest more into a photo on social media than they invest in real life.”

Makes it Harder to Fall Asleep

Social media can affect your sleep which is essential for your health. We need sleep for our body and brain to recover in order to be rested for the next day.

“Getting worked up with anxiety or envy from what we see on social media keeps the brain on high alert, preventing us from falling asleep,” explained Dr Bono.

“Plus, the light from our mobile device just inches from our face can suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel tired.”

Sleep itself is an important behavior for our overall happiness and well-being. When we sleep the brain does a lot of work to help us feel good and maintain focus on our work the next day. We want to give our brains as much time as possible to do this work.”

It’s Addictive

“Most of us know on an intellectual level that we spend too much time on social media. We nonetheless, feel pressured to open up Facebook or Instagram time and again, even against our better judgment telling us to stay away. The reason? It’s addictive.

“The same neurochemistry that leads gamblers in Vegas to empty their wallets into slot machines they know are unlikely to yield the jackpot is what keeps us going back for more updates from friends and relatives we know are likely to make us feel envy from their vacation shots or anger from their political rants.”

Mental Health

The digital age with the highest advancements in social media also has the highest rate of depression and anxiety especially in young people. According to a survey of “1,000 18 to 24 year olds across America a total of 41% are made to feel anxious, sad, or depressed by platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

In fact, “34% of Gen Z say they’re permanently quitting social media, and 64% are taking a break, according to new research from Origin, Hill Holliday’s in-house research arm.”

Looking at images that cause you to have a negative outlook on yourself can make you feel sad and anxious. Your mood can change from being content to being unsatisfied, lonely or depressed. Learning to become self aware with your emotions and instead focus on what we can be grateful for.

It’s important for your health to take one day at a time. Using social media less and living your best life today in the present! We have to remind ourselves that our life is in God’s hands. In Proverbs 16:33 it says, “we can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” 

When in fact, we are imperfect people who are in need of a perfect God. God who can be our only place of identity who calls us chosen, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Don’t compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel. You are a unique individual and there is no else like you on this planet don’t forget that.