How much time on social media is healthy?

How much social media is too much?

The use of social media, like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, or Twitter has become overwhelmingly popular in modern communication. So much so, that the question of how much time is “too much” time on social media is being asked by many.

According to a study done by Digital Information World, the average user is currently spending two hours and 22 minutes on social media a day. And that time is increasing every year.

The idea of social media is great at its core concept. It is used to connect people, businesses, and information all over the world. It is a way to keep in contact with loved ones that do not live close. It’s also a great tool for businesses to communicate with potential consumers and market their products and services. There is no doubt about the usefulness of social media. However, the doubt comes when we see the time spent on these applications and the impact they could be having on our day to day life.

The more time teens spend on social media linked to depression.

There was a recent study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics, on how screen time might be affecting teens in this current day and age. They report ‘a positive association between screen time and depression in adolescents’. Depression is common among adults and teens. However, when teens become more depressed it can impact their developmental processes academically, socially, and cognitively. Teens who report depression often have lower self-esteem and can have poor relationships with peers and adults.

The impact on adults.

As for adults, social media can have a major impact on our focus, productivity, relationships, as well as self-esteem. We can see those who suffer with work performance and maintaining relationships as constant notifications pop up encouraging the checking of personal social media sites. Social media can often give illusions to things that might not be the reality. People post pictures and videos that are edited and staged to make their life appear at its best. It is very common for both adults and teens to spend a large amount of time on these platforms, and then feel personally inadequate or lesser if their own lives do not compare.

The Comparison Trap

A great article on Psychology Today talks about The Comparison Trap that a lot of us find ourselves in with increased usage of multiple social sites. A certain amount of comparison, and measuring ourselves against our peers, is normal and can be helpful for inspiration, motivation, and drive. But they can also leave us feeling less than, and lead to more feelings of low self-image, depression, anxiety, etc. We start to care more about things we never cared about in the past. Like creating the picture-perfect living room, or baking that magazine-ready cake, or stocking the perfectly healthy fridge. We spend more time now thinking and caring about keeping up with the perfect pictures of people we have never met in person.

It’s not all bad!

There is much to say about the time we spend on social media and the negative impacts it could have on us, but truly it is about how and why we use these sites. If we use them as tools to engage, support, and connect with others it can be wonderful and uplifting. But if we continue to use them to pass the time, compare ourselves to others, or obsessively see what is going on in others lives, they will continue to have ill effects on our mental health.