If you have used social media, you are probably aware of the feelings you have revolving the various apps. Do you know how deep those feelings actually go? Social media has been found to be the source of increased depression and anxiety in its users. Not only do people experience an increase in anxiety from using social media, but they have anxiety when they are not using it!
Social media is an amazing resource to keep you connected to friends, peers, and celebrities, while also allowing you to experience all the news all at once. While this sounds like an amazing tool, the constant flow of news articles, visually experiencing society’s expectations of beauty, and immediate feedback on your own posts can be overwhelming. According to the research conducted by Keles et al (2019) social media allows people to stay connected to current affairs as well as with their peers which can support in reducing isolation, but also increases worry regarding judgement and the constant flow of other’s opinions right in the palm of your hand. Social media is a double-edged sword, while keeping us connected increasing our life satisfaction, while keeping us constantly bombarded with news and information increasing our ill-being such as anxiety and depressive symptoms (Beyens et al., 2022). Understanding the impact of social media on our anxiety and depression is beneficial to know when to turn the phone off and when to walk away.
While adults might have the capability to take a break from social media, sort out our thoughts, and process our experiences, the kids and adolescents of the world might not be so aware.
Parents of children and adolescents are stuck in a tricky situation. The concept of Media specific parenting brings up the idea of control and understanding of the child’s use of social media (Beyens et al., 2022). Having an open dialog with the child and understanding what they are doing on social media can help reduce the anxiety and stress of using the various apps. While allowing the child a safe space to share their experiences can reduce their anxiety and depression, the other side of media specific parenting is built on reduction of social media use. According to the research by Khasawneh et al., (2021), reducing the child’s use of social media can lead to isolation and increased depression from not being included.
As we are reading through the ups and downs of using social media, it might feel easier to just delete it all and walk away. Unfortunately, that is not always an option. Social media has planted deep roots into our society and culture. To handle the anxiety and depression of social media it is suggested to take breaks, put your account on pause and walk away as needed, do not use social media before bed or when you can not sleep, set limits on who you follow or what content you view, and help your children to better understand to pros and cons of these tools. As with most things, communication of how you are feeling, exploring your emotions, and setting boundaries will help you to reduce your social media induced stress and anxiety.