Most of us are guilty of using social media on a semi-regular basis. It can be a very useful tool to stay connected to family and friends, but at what point does it change from an innocent look in an attempt to remain current on the lives of friends and family to an unhealthy need and potentially self-esteem damaging obsession?
The results of studies related to social media have had mixed results, but there is a common theme - self-esteem is impacted by the use of social media. A survey of active social media users (both male and female) between the ages of 28-73 report that using social media has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way (1). Another study of teenagers aged 13-17 showed that 24% said social media had a negative effect on their lives with instances of bullying, unrealistic views of others’ lives in comparison to their own, conflict, unrealistic expectations and dissatisfaction within their own relationships (2). A third study showed that social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram led to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness (3)
So how can we eliminate the risk of becoming subject to damaged self-esteem via social media? Here are a few tips:
1- Limit time spent on social platforms:
This may sound simple- but it’s so easy to lose track of time when you’re scrolling through countless pictures and status updates. Try setting a timer to track your social media time. Once the timer goes off, the apps have to be closed for the night. In addition to setting the timer, make it a point to stay off social media close to bedtime. Proper sleep hygiene includes not using screens close to falling asleep to help your brain prepare for sleep.
2- Turn off the notifications:
It’s hard to ignore a list of notifications on your phone. For some, the little red bubble next to the app is impossible to ignore. Turning off notifications will help to eliminate the impulse to check your social platforms.
3- Stick to friends and family:
Many of us are guilty of trying to keep track of what celebrities are doing on social media, but let’s face it - we all know that celebrities have an entourage of individuals who assist with their daily tasks such as professional makeup artists, hairdressers, stylists, photographers and photo editors all to make their photos look as “perfect” as possible. These unrealistic images do nothing but harm to our self-esteem. Try stick to following only your friends and family on social media for a more realistic, natural looking feed.
4- Limit Social Media Platforms:
A study published by Computers in Human Behavior showed that people who use more than 7 social media platforms had more than three times the risk of depression than those who used two or fewer platforms (4). If you are someone who uses many different social media platforms, monitor which ones bring you joy and which ones do not. Try to choose your top 2 apps and stick with only the ones which bring you a sense of happiness. Don’t be afraid to delete the platforms that do not bring you joy.
Like most things in life, social media is good in moderation. It’s a fantastic tool that allows us to easily stay connected with individuals that we otherwise would have trouble communicating with. Knowing ways to protect your self-esteem is very important for anyone who chooses to download an app of this sort. Feel free to share in the comments ways that you protect yourself from damaged self-esteem.
Dr. Diana Garcia
Dr. Diana Garcia has over 20 years of experience in the field of psychology. She has provided psychological and counseling services in Ontario, and the states of Pennsylvania, and Florida