Why too much social media is dangerous and bad for your health

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Kevin Mangelschots

Most of us know that too much social media isn’t good for us. Especially, dangers of social media for youth are plentiful as they are still developing neurologically and thus, mentally.

Yet, these platforms are everywhere these days. And we know that media influences our culture and society. It has never been easier to share our experiences and pictures with other people all over the world with just a single click on a button.

And while this technology has plenty of positive effects, the dangers of oversharing on social media platforms are always present.

Why too much social media is dangerous

Image of people using their phone saying, “try to stop the spread of false information.”

Too much social media is bad for you. Yet, it is extremely hard to stop scrolling through social platforms.

I notice this myself when I’m on Facebook. Often times I find myself not really doing anything but mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed, sometimes for hours when the goal was to quickly check it for 5 minutes. Mission failed!

  • Addictive

     

    A man using a phone in front of a window.

    Fishing for likes on social media platforms is weirdly addictive.

    Everyone likes to feel validated by others from time to time. But this needy behavior can spiral out of control until social media only becomes a tool to collect as many likes as possible.

    Social media can be a useful tool to catch up with other people and to keep in touch with those living far away from us. Yet most of us spend hours scrolling unproductively.

  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)

    One of the other dangers of spending too much time on social media is fear of missing out.

    Fear of missing out refers to the feeling, or at least having the perception, that other people are having better, more fun lives than you do.

    Seeing what other people are doing, especially those sharing their seemingly perfect life, can lead to people developing fear of missing out, or in short, FOMO.

    In reality, people’s lives often aren’t perfect. And those who are only sharing their best experiences and pictures with the best lightning, pose online are frequently the ones who are the most lonely. Social media can give a skewed perception of reality indeed.

  • Isolation

     

    Image of multiple pawns standing together with one pawn standing separated alone.

    Isolation might be another one of the bad effects of social media.

    This one might seem contradictory at first. But just because one has more friends on social media does not mean that one has more friends in real life. And ultimately, we end up spending most of our hours experiencing life in the real, physical world.

    Other people sharing their seemingly perfect lives and fun experiences while we are struggling at home can increase our sense of isolation and sadness.

    Important to realize is that having a lot of online friends does not automatically equate to a sense of comradery and companionship. It can help, but having real friends that we know in person and who we can bond with in real life is even more critical.

  • Cyberbullying

    Image of the words, “stop bullying” being written by someone's hand holding a marker.

    One of the worst dangers of posting pictures on Facebook and other social media platforms is cyberbullying.

    You don’t even have to particularly misuse social media to be a victim of cyberbullying. Someone spiteful who has the intention to hurt other people finding a picture or anything else that’s personal about you can be the sole reason they need to engage in bullying behavior.

    This is one of the dangers of posting pictures on Facebook and other social media platforms when putting your profile on public. Everyone can see what you are posting and thus, even a single individual feeling tough because of the anonymity the internet provides can have a negative impact on others.

  • Self-absorption

     

    Image of a man focusing on one thing while the rest of his colleagues are talking in a meeting.

    Constantly being engaged and in competition with others to share the most fun experiences, to take the best, most beautiful pictures can lead to over awareness and self-absorption.

    Being overly self-absorbed is not good and can lead to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety and hyper awareness disorder.

    Always realize that we should only be in competition with ourselves and that no matter what we do, everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

  • Inadequacy about one’s life or appearance

     

    Image of a woman showing signs of insecurity.

    Comparing with other people is never good. The only person you should ever be comparing yourself to who you were yesterday. Aim to become a little better each day, and you are well on your way to improve your life.

    Seeing other people’s carefully edited pictures to give the illusion of the perfect selfie and seemingly great lives without any worries can leave us feeling inadequate about our own life and/or appearance.

    It is important to note that not everything that is portrayed on social media is true or the way it is in reality. Nobody is perfect. Everyone got their own worries and nobody looks perfect taking a selfie just coming out of bed.

  • Can lead to jealousy

     

    A woman giving a jealous look to her boyfriend, who's smiling while looking at his phone.

    Again, comparing yourself with other people who often portray a perfect life on social media is a recipe for disaster and can lead to jealousy. Comparing yourself with others can become a vicious circle which becomes increasingly harder to break each time you don’t.

    Although jealousy isn’t good, especially not in the long term, a tiny bit of jealousy can be used as motivation in order to improve ourselves and thus, our lives.

    Always remember that no matter what we do, some people will always be better at some things than us. Unfortunately, we can’t have it all. And life isn’t fair, either.

  • Depression and anxiety

     

    Image of a woman who's overwhelmed by fear and is experiencing feelings of anxiety as a result.

    It isn’t that hard to see how all the previously mentioned points can lead to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

    Lots of people are suffering from depression and anxiety these days. And the general feeling of isolation that COVID-19 has induced is certainly not helping.

    It’s a strange thing. Social media can help to alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety when used correctly. But for some people, especially those who misuse or rely too much on social media, it can cause worsening feelings of depression and anxiety.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Positive aspects about social media

Illustration of a happy brain due to the increased dopamine due to getting a message on its phone.

Social media isn’t all bad if used correctly. As a matter of fact, it has plenty of positive effects as well, such as:

  • Staying in touch with people from all over the world, especially those far away
  • Exchanging information with people
  • Forming a social bond with other people
  • Finding new friends and communities due to networking with others
  • Promoting or joining worthwhile causes
  • Outlet for self and creative expression
  • Discovering different sources who are competent and thus, can teach other people valuable information that enables us to learn
  • Seeking or giving emotional support to those in need during tough times

How to keep a social media addiction in check?

Image of a hand holding a ball with in the middle written, “social media”, and with various emblems of social media platforms surrounding it.

  • Put a fixed amount of time you’re allowed to spend on social media

    Most of us will probably know the feeling of just wanting to check your social media for a few minutes, but end up spending hours mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Social media can be addictive, and an effective way to combat this can be to put a fixed amount of time that you’re allowed to spend on social media.

    This will help you to prevent becoming addicted, or will at least make sure you don’t end up spending hours on social media.

  • Take some (fixed) days off from social media

    If spending a fixed amount of time on social media platforms is not for you, or you find it not effective enough as a single solution, you can always take some days off from social media.

    This is another way of ensuring that you’re limiting the time you’re spending on social media.

  • Always remember that people only show what they want you to see on social media

    People only show you what they want you to see, especially online.

    This means that a lot of what you see online just isn’t true. This also means you should be careful with how much weight and value you should put into the things you see and read.

    The image they’re portraying is often too good to be true. It’s important to remember that nobody is perfect and that each one of us, no matter how rich or pretty, has their own individual problems.

Conclusion

Social media can be both a curse and a blessing. It does socially condition people, for better or worse. But too much is dangerous and bad for you. That much is a given.

When used correctly, these platforms are great for staying in touch with people who we don’t see often or live far away. It allows us to create a sense of comradery and companionship if used correctly.

When misused, side effects can be devastating. Bad effects such as cyberbullying, depression, anxiety, and a feeling of isolation may occur when social media is misused or, used too much.

So stay safe, and watch out who you are communicating with or showing your profile to. Unfortunately, not everyone in this world has good intentions.