Work and Social Media- 4 Pros And Cons Of Social Media On Mental Health
Social media can be a powerful tool for business when used correctly. According to the latest research, it has become an integral part of everyone's life and almost every employee uses social media at work. The PEW research shows that 80% of Americans use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram during work hours.
Although Harvard studies show that 82% of employees believe social media can help create harmonious relationships at work, it can also be detrimental. Apart from being distracted and losing employee productivity, it also harms your mental health.
Health experts say sitting is the new smoking, and working long hours mostly comes with a sedentary lifestyle. When you spend most of your hours sitting in front of your screen, you are bound to scroll through the social media feed mindlessly. It is not done intentionally, but it is not a healthy habit when it comes to your collective psychology.
With social media becoming more popular, the debate over how it affects your well-being and its usage is also gaining traction. As you engage with the notification, you are more likely to be distracted and anxious about what it contains. Consequently, social media continues to be the subject of a heated debate for its pros and cons.
This article will help you understand the pros and cons of social media on mental health and how to balance its use strategically.
Prevalence Of Social Media At Work
The prevalence of social media at work is a reality that employers and organizations cannot ignore. In recent years, social media usage has significantly increased, with employees using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat during their work hours. While social media offers many benefits and opportunities, it has its limitations too.
There is a lot of downside to using social media extensively at work. There are many challenges and pitfalls, but when it comes to using it effectively, it can be used as a powerful tool.
When you manage the usage of social media during work hours in a constructive way, it will help you to connect and bond with colleagues across departments. Using platforms like LinkedIn can help you gain knowledge and provide opportunities to enhance productivity and creative thinking.
According to a recent study, approximately 14% of workers found information on social media that improved their professional opinion of a colleague; a similar share (16%) found information on social media that lowered their professional opinion of a colleague.
Again, employees can also use the same to advocate their opinions and feelings about their brands or companies to the world. It can empower employees by making them brand ambassadors to share their insight and personal achievements, thus simultaneously increasing their company's reputation.
However, just like every coin has two sides, so does social media. With its numerous benefits come downsides, too. Besides being the major cause of distraction at work, excessive usage of social media during work can consume significant time and disrupt employees' focus.
Furthermore, social media today has effectively impacted the concept of professionalism too. With its connect-with-everyone policy; there are hardly any boundaries left. Posting inappropriate and insensitive posts on social media platforms can reflect poorly on the organization and its employees.
Suggested Read: Positive Distractions At Work: 4 Ways To Boost Productivity
A Comparison Of Social Media's Pros And Cons
Social media has become an integral part of your life, and the impact of it on your mental health is a heated debate. Here’s a list of the pros and cons of social media usage on your mental health discussed below -
4 Pros Of Social Media On Mental Health
1. Connectivity And Social Support
Social media was developed so that you can stay connected with friends and family while opening up the possibility of connecting with others around the world. By using a smartphone or any digital device, you can connect with anyone in the world, no matter where you are.
Almost 27% of employees use social media to communicate with family and friends at work
One of the biggest benefits of social media is its connectivity, which fosters a sense of belonging and social support. It further positively impacts your mental well-being too.
2. Increased Awareness And Access To Information
Social media can be a powerful tool if used smartly. The various platforms give you access to a pandora of knowledge and information. Social media has created various platforms for social issues like mental health awareness and political activism.
It helps to facilitate conversations about mental health problems and share and find varied resources to reduce the stigma attached to it and get the necessary help.
Suggested Read: Social Media Day At Work To Enhance Your Workplace Wellness
3. Platform To Share Expressions And Creativity
Social media platforms offer a wide range of options to express yourself and share your creative side. One of the best advantages of social media platforms is that you can easily express yourself in any way you choose. When you get a platform to share or vent out your thoughts or opinions, it further helps you to eliminate negative emotions and feelings.
Nearly 9 out of 10 employees use social media for personal use, with half already posting about their companies on social networks.
Again, when you share your creativity through art, journals, or other personal achievements on social media, the mere validation of your connections can give you a sense of accomplishment and a rush of dopamine. It further helps to boost your self-confidence and esteem.
4. Emotional Support
Social media helps people connect and get the necessary social and emotional support they need when struggling with issues. Some join online support groups, and some connect with friends and family worldwide on these virtual platforms. Because, for some of you, face-to-face interactions can be challenging in the hustle culture.
Thus, social media accounts can help you connect and find emotional support. They also allow you to seek emotional help from others who have gone through similar experiences in their lives.
Suggested Read: 15 Emotional Wellness Activities to Practice in the Workplace
4 Cons Of Social Media On Mental Health
1. High Risk Of Developing Anxiety And Depression
Social media is linked with a higher rate of depression among people, especially teens and young adults. It is one of the most common mental illnesses caused by social media. Comparing yourself to others’ lives can create a sense of envy and loneliness without you even realizing it.
You are more likely to feel depressed and fear missing out when you start comparing your real life with the content online, which is specifically curated to get more engagement.
The more time you spend on social media, the more you start comparing yourself to others. This further results in feelings of loneliness and inadequacy and even increases the risk of developing depression.
Suggested Read: Workplace Depression: What Every Employer Must Understand
2. Encourages Anti-social Behavior
One of the biggest cons of using social media is its limited real-time human interaction. The more time you spend scrolling through your feed, the more you are bound to compare your life with the ones online. The vicious loop of comparison further leads to feelings of jealousy and even depression.
Again, a study reveals that more friends online don't necessarily mean that you have a better social life. There is a limit to the number of friends your brain can handle, and it requires real-time interaction, not virtual ones. It further encourages anti-social behaviors like loneliness, social anxiety, and self-isolation, which are linked to many mental health issues.
Suggested Read: Coping With Social Isolation and Mental Health
3. Encourages Addictive Nature
Social media platforms are designed to be addictive, with features such as infinite scrolling, push notifications, and personalized content feeds that keep users engaged for extended periods.
Men are more addicted to social media than women, with a percentage of 49.6% compared to 32% of women.
Again, excessive use of social media can lead to addiction-like behaviors, where you will find it challenging to control your urge to use despite negative consequences.
Spending excessive time on social media can also contribute to reduced productivity, poor sleep quality, and a lack of real-world social interactions, ultimately impacting mental health.
4. Disturbance Of Sleep
Social media can disrupt your sleep patterns if you use it excessively. You may have difficulty falling asleep due to the blue light emitted by screens and the constant connection to social media.
Social media usage late at night can affect your natural sleep quality and duration, leading to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Further sleep deprivation can lead to poor productivity and overall health problems.
Suggested Read: How To Improve Your Sleep - 5 Do's And Don'ts Of Sleep Hygiene
Strategies For Balancing Social Media Use And Mental Health
The effects of social media on mental health can significantly impact your quality and perspective of life. There is a drastic link between social media usage and how it affects your mental health. Your confidence and self-esteem can take a hit when you compare your lives with others, further worsening the feelings of loneliness and depression.
However, balancing your social media usage and other aspects of life is not impossible. By using social media with the right strategies and methods, you can easily protect your mental health. Here are a few ways you can achieve the same.
1. Limit Your Screen Time
Limiting your screen time is the first step towards leading a more digitally healthy life. Try to limit your social media usage to a set amount of time per day. Again, when you are spending time with your loved one or even associates, it is a good idea to keep your smartphone and laptop away so that the notifications don't distract you.
Additionally, since sleep is crucial to your overall well-being, you should try to switch your devices to “do not disturb” mode or turn them off so you can sleep better and maintain good sleep habits.
2. Practice Mindfulness
After limiting your social media usage, the next step is to be mindful of your consumption and habit. If you see yourself using social media apps first thing in the morning, you need to be more mindful of why you are using them.
Is it because you want to get the latest news and information or simply out of habit? Mindless scrolling can be as harmful as smoking. The new saying goes sitting is smoking. If you are struggling to log out of your social media apps or put your mobile phones down.
You can try to engage yourself in other activities like practicing mindfulness meditation or even yoga to keep yourself occupied and relaxed at the same time.
3. Try To Implement A Social Media Detox Period
One of the major cons of social media is its addictive nature, making it even more challenging for users to limit their consumption. Like any other addiction, the preventive step for social media addiction is a detox.
Practicing a digital detox or even a break from social media can help your mental and physical health. It can help reduce stress and make you more aware of the present instead of fearing missing out.
Try to create a plan to take a break from social media for multiple days. If you're worried about getting anxious, you can start by limiting your usage to 10-20 minutes a day before taking a break.
Deleting your favorite social apps and declaring your break to friends and family can help you resist the urge to log back in. It will also help you connect with yourself and your surroundings, which is more therapeutic for your mental health than virtual validations.
4. Prioritize Real-life Connections And Relationships
The pandemic has affected events, conferences, and the ability to meet friends and family. But now that the pandemic is over, distancing from each other is no longer necessary. Social media can be used not just to meet people virtually but also to meet them in person.
Make time for your loved ones offline and engage with them more meaningfully. Be sure to put away your phones and laptops when communicating with your people so you won't be distracted.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Is Mental Health Negatively Affected By Social Media?
It can affect thoughts and feelings as well as physical health for people when they look online and find they are excluded from an activity. A 2018 British study tied social media use to Sleep disruptions, poor academic performance, and depression are all associated with decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep.
2. How Does Instagram Affect Mental Health?
According to a 2021 Forbes article, people who often use social media feel like they are excluded from an activity that can affect their thoughts, feelings, and even their physical health and depression: Again, a 2019 study showed that the frequency of Instagram use is linked to these mental health issues.
To summarize, social media has become a prominent part of almost everyone's life, and its effects on mental health are being studied more and more today. Your mental health can be affected both positively and negatively by social media.
Additionally, it can also provide support for those who are suffering from mental health issues. Meanwhile, excessive use of social media may lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety.
You can also be exposed to cyberbullying or negative comments on social media, which can harm your mental health. Furthermore, the constant comparison to others on social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
In the end, social media should not be the only source of validation and fulfillment in your life. Find the perfect balance between unplugging and unwinding.
I hope this article helped you better understand social media's various pros and cons and how they can impact your mental health.
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