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How Social Media Can Improve Quality of Life

Posted on 2020-10-14 11:11:08

Social media has become an incredibly important channel for news and fun. It's helped give people voices that never thought they could make a difference in the lives of others. It's also toppled governments, connected people across continents, and provided hours of good fun. 

The allure of social media has also has some side effects, like:

- Distraction from what we need to be doing

- Addiction

- Increasing stress and moodiness

- Anxiety and disrupted sleep

More than a third of employees report turning to social media as a mental break from work, which isn't such a bad thing. However, many people take the habit into their work and home lives. Social media very easily distracts people during meetings, social gatherings, face-to-face relationships, and other events that may require your attention.

The dopamine hits the social media is designed to provide can precipitate addictive behavior. People afflicted with social media addiction feel compelled to engage their devices constantly. addictive habits can negatively impact personal relationships, health, and happiness.

The "highs" that social media provides can create "lows" that affect your stress and mood. One study found that participants who browsed Facebook for 20 minutes had a lower mood than a control group who browsed the internet in general. Negative online interactions have also been shown to be correlated with rates of depression.

The same goes with increased anxiety levels that accompany heavy usage of social media.  People who used seven or more social media platforms were three times as likely as people using two or fewer platforms to experience symptoms of general anxiety disorder. Anxiety levels also affect sleep patterns. 

Obsessive “checking” behavior of social media accounts can lead to disrupted sleep. The blue light that digital devices emit also contributes to a poor night's sleep. Poor sleep habits contribute to negative health outcomes, like depression and an increased risk of obesity and heart disease.


How Social Media Can Boost Life Satisfaction

While heavy social media use can encourage addictive behavior, a few tips can ease the anxiety, stress, and depressive effects constant use of the technology can lead to. 

1. Flipping through numerous social media accounts in a single sitting is a sure indication that you're hooked. So limit the number of platforms you use. Researchers have found there is a correlation between managing multiple social media platforms and higher levels of stress and anxiety. Gradually decrease the number of platforms you check in a sitting to wean yourself from the dopine hits.

2. Turn off notifications. External prompts like pings and beeps and rings urge us to check out social media accounts. Companies designed their apps on purpose to disrupt what you're doing at the moment so you'll give the app your attention and time. Disabling notifications will reduce the number of adrenaline shots you get each time you hear your device chime for your urgent attention.

3. Be aware of how much time you spend. If you're starting to feel you're missing out on what used to be the most important things in your life, reduce your time with social media. If your loved ones or friends give you hints that they are feeling neglected, ignore your device. Better yet, put it out of eye shot, with the notifications off, of course.

4. Note the quality of your online interactions. Not all social media use is bad. Pay attention to how you feel after each interaction, such as getting a message or reading a headline. If you feel negative feelings, consider unfollowing, muting, or blocking the person who caused that feeling, or adjusting your habits to avoid it in the future.

5. Start replacing your online interactions with real-life ones. Arrange coffee or a meal with a friend. If you're a parent, turn your phone off or put it in Airplane Mode so you can spend more quality time with your family. Get back to those hobbies or interests instead of picking up your smartphone. Those pasttimes you've ignored may be the source of new skills and insights that will enrich your real world relationships and perhaps provide the platform for a new business!


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