Despite our global fascination with social media, we hear a lot of negative things about it. Addiction, imposter syndrome, and self-esteem are just a few of the areas that experts are concerned about, and rightfully so.Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are shown to have a connection to social media use. With 69% of adults and 81% of teens using social media in the United States, there is no shortage of people who have the potential for experiencing the negative effects of apps like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter.
So, what do we do? The solution seems obvious: stop using social media. But what if it’s not that simple?
With so many people connected to social media, not participating can also bring feelings of loneliness and missing out. Instead of abandoning social media altogether, there is another way.
Use social media to help you.
You can use social media in healthier ways to bring more joy and peace to your life. The key is to be intentional about what you use social media for, how you use it, and how much you use it.
What you use social media for matters.
Consider why you are using social media. Are you using it for work or pleasure? Do you use it to relax or does it bring stress? Do you feel connected or isolated after scrolling?
Understanding what you use social media for and why matters. It is the answer to questions like those above that help you see if your use of social media is helpful in your life. If you often feel stressed or isolated when scrolling, that’s an indicator that it’s not helpful. But if you can use it to relax or connect with people, and that brings you joy, social media may not be bad for you if you use it in a healthy way.
How you use social media matters.
Do you find yourself scrolling (or tempted to scroll) in the middle of your workday or during in-person conversations with people? Are you constantly taking pictures to find the perfect one to share? Do you use it to escape whatever is going on around you?
These are all indicators that the way you are using social media is concerning. It’s not that social media is a problem, but something about it is leading you to use it as an escape, to avoid situations, or it is something you are obsessing over to create a certain image that you portray to others.
The way you use social media in your life is a good indicator of whether it is healthy for you in this season.
How much you use social media matters.
When you wake up in the morning, is social media the first thing you open on your phone? Do you keep notifications on and open the app every time you hear a ding? Do you feel the need to know what’s going on with everyone all the time?
These things show that social media is a large part of your life. This can lead to depression, emotional detachment, and more.
If you find that you are using it more judiciously, however, it may not be a problem area for you. For example, if you ate a big bowl of ice cream every day, your body would start to feel the effects of that. If you ate a big bowl of ice cream multiple times per day, you would really feel it. If instead, however, you ate a big bowl of ice cream once a week or chose to have a small scoop regularly, you would have a healthier balance. It can be that way with social media.
Large amounts of social media regularly can lead to negative effects on the way you feel and the way you interact with the world around you socially, emotionally, and professionally.
Four ways social media can help you.
As you think about social media, consider how it can be helpful in your life. Using social media in these four ways can show how you can harness social media to be a helpful tool for your overall well-being.
Pay attention to what you’re scrolling.
Look at the type of content to which you are drawn. Most social media apps make that fairly easy by showing you more of what you seem to like. This is how they use artificial intelligence to keep you on the app longer.If you notice your “For You” feed is full of things like dieting tips and recipes, think about why that is. Are you struggling in this area of your life?
If your feed is full of sarcastic memes, are you wrestling with something that is keeping you bitter? Should you seek some help or counsel about it?
What if you notice a lot of extremely good-looking people in post after post? Are you struggling with your self-esteem or maybe even temptation? Who can help you in this area?
What you look at on social media can tell you a lot about what you are feeling inside, if you pay attention.
Make intentional connection when you feel isolated.
There are times in our lives when we feel disconnected from people. Whether it’s during a hard season that keeps us home more or a time when it feels like your friends are always busy with work or family, social media can be a good way to connect. But it won’t happen automatically. You have to be intentional.
Because social media is so full of things to keep you entertained and engaged, you need to be mindful of seeking out people and connecting with them. Sending voice or video messages is a great way to feel more connected to people you know. This makes social media a more positive thing in which you can participate.
Fill your feed with positive content.
You have a lot of control over what you see on social media. Consider who you are following and what you are double tapping. The more you like content, the more likely you are to see it.
That means you need to choose to follow and interact with content that is positive and makes you feel good instead of following trends. It is just as important to unfollow or remove accounts that bring you down or hurt you.
Learn about God and His word.
This is one of the most overlooked positive things you can do on social media. You have access to a wealth of information about the Bible and things that will grow your faith.
Be intentional about following things that are good for your faith. Things that explain Bible verses or share a verse of the day, accounts that share simple prayers, and churches, organizations, and teachers who give sound biblical instruction are great ways to help you build your faith during your time on social media.
Things to watch out for.
Even if you are intentional about doing these things, you need to be aware. Think about how you are feeling during and after your time on social media. Consider what you are missing out on when you use social media. Pay attention.
If you experience things like:
- Avoiding real life
- Things that feed your struggles (i.e. food, alcohol, self-esteem)
- Excessive wasting of time
- Increased anxiety
it is a good idea to talk to someone who can help you navigate the role social media should play in your life for your wellbeing.
Social media doesn’t have to be a negative thing in your life. When you are intentional, you can use social media in ways that build you up, grow your faith, and keep you connected to people. But that isn’t always easy.
A Christian counselor is ready to help you navigate how to use social media in healthier ways in your life. Reach out today and we can get started on a more satisfying path.
“Apps”, Courtesy of LoboStudioHamburg, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Social Network”, Courtesy of GDJ, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Social Media Word Cloud”, Courtesy of Narciso1, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Circle of Friends”, Courtesy of Geralt, Pixabay.com, CC0 License
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