But, is that really good for you? It turns out that maybe it’s not. Studies suggest that there’s an association between social media use and depression, insomnia, anxiety, and even eating disorders. For instance, Instagram use has been associated with development of body image issues in adolescents. Social media use in general can be disruptive of normal sleep both from the setting of needing a dopamine fix (got to have another “like”!) or simply being anxious about “missing out” on the latest and greatest posts.
Ironically, the more time people spend on social media, the more socially isolated they feel. While it’s unclear whether people who feel socially isolated spend more time on Facebook or whether use causes feelings of social isolation, one thing seems certain: Facebook friends have a different impact on health than friends you spend time with in “real life.” Whereas having friends can boost happiness, reduce stress, improve confidence and cope with tragedy, social media friends are more likely to trigger feelings of envy or even depression as their posts often inspire comparison between your life and theirs. Besides, if someone posted it on social media, that perfect haircut, trim figure and cute outfit has to be a reflection of their daily life (and there was surely only one photo needed to capture that fabulous shot).
That being said, social media probably isn’t all bad. First of all, it doesn’t seem to affect everyone equally. Additionally, those who are using social media to broaden their actual social network (ie planning to hang out with their new friends in social settings) and those who use online relationship building as a way to build confidence for real-world relationships may derive some benefits. Lastly, it can help provide support for those with chronic and/or severe illness.
So, what’s the final answer? Much like most things in life, social media is neither entirely good nor entirely bad. If you’ve reached the point of sleep deprivation, depression, envy, insecurity, frustration or anxiety over missing out (apparently FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is an actual thing), then you probably need a break. If you find that you’re generally happy on social media (for yourself and others) and you’re building stronger, more meaningful relationships online that carry over into your social calendar, then you’re probably ok. Good luck on perfecting your duck face! 😊