By. Carly Blumenthal, MSW
The world is constantly shifting around us, and it can be hard to keep up with the everlasting new trends, technologies, and social changes. From my experience with patients, I have learned that a lot of teens and young adults are affected by the power of social media. Social media and “screen time” can be addicting and the average teen spends nearly 7.5 hours on their phones a day. Adults are not too far behind with an average screen time of 7 hours a day.
Social media is correlated to the upward trend of anxiety and depression in teens and young adults. Social media has many positive aspects such as staying in touch with long distance friends, expressing creativity, promoting causes, raising awareness. While social media can be good for many reasons, it can also isolate people and lead to feelings of shame and guilt.
The purpose of social media is to stay in touch and see what friends, family, celebrities, and others are doing all over the world. Some may be dining in expensive restaurants or traveling all over Europe for a summer. Others may be attending their city’s football games, going to see their favorite bands or showing off their new puppy. Ultimately, it is easy for people to compare themselves to others and wonder why their lives seem so “boring” compared to their followers. This can lead to self-esteem issues because people are dissatisfied with their own lives and begin to compare themselves to the unrealistic fantasy of the people on their feed.
The progression of social media over the years has led to a decline in face-to-face interaction. It has become too easy to remain connected with someone through Instagram and Facebook. With a few clicks, there is access to who they are dating, what city they are living in, and where they vacation on the weekends. While some may see this as beneficial, individuals could be isolating themselves without even realizing. Since someone’s personal life can be so accessible through a screen, some may call their friends less, cancel on lunches, or back out of their high school reunion.
There is no simple solution for anything, but there is always progress to be made. I have noticed a positive change in my patients who disconnect at some point during the day. Even if it is a twenty-minute coffee break, that time away from devices allows us to be in the present. In the mental health world, clinicians are constantly preaching “self-care” and encouraging our patients, families, and friends to engage in activities that promote well-being and mindfulness. I, myself, take time out of the day to do something I enjoy and that puts me at ease. Self-care doesn’t need to mean a weekend getaway to a spa retreat, but appreciating the little things in life that are enjoyable. The world is moving rapidly around us, but that chunk out of the day allows us to reset, breathe, and appreciate our surroundings. Some activities that I find helpful are listening to music, going for a walk, reading a book, baking a new recipe, or finding a new hobby. These tiny moments can go a very long way.