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Social media and your well-being
January 7, 2019, 12:25 pm

Any activity that regularly takes up a lot of your time can have a detrimental effect on your health. Whether it is working, commuting, eating, sleeping or watching television or even exercising, overdo it and you are headed towards a less than healthy life. The same is true about time we spend on various social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a whole list of other social media platforms, which have begun to take up an inordinate amount of our time, are detrimental to our physical and mental health.

People use social media for many things, such as finding and sharing information, socializing, shopping or simply as a media to divert our attention for a while. Although some of these activities could be innocuous others could have an impact on our overall wellbeing.

In addition to distraction, eye-strain, fatigue, sleep deprivation and withdrawal symptoms, there are also several ways in which social media negatively affects your mental health, including anxiety, stress and depression. A study conducted in 2016 involving 1,700 people found a threefold risk of depression and anxiety among people who excessively used social media platforms.

Filtered photos of people on Instagram feeds, or staying abreast about someone’s relationship status on Facebook tends to knockdown your self-esteem, and raise feelings of self-doubt about your own looks and relationships. Views pedaled by so called social media ‘influencers’ may cause doubt about your own choices.

Spending time arguing with people on Facebook on some issue could lead to unnecessary stress building up and disturbing your day. Meanwhile, obsessively checking your Twitter account and replying or retweeting the latest feed before bed can contribute to poor quality of sleep and the accompanying mental stress.

While social media platforms can help you remain in connection with family and friends, using them too frequently or becoming obsessed with them comes at a cost to your physical, social and psychological wellbeing. It is not the use of social media as much as our addiction to these platforms that are a cause of concern.

If you believe everything you read that is posted on social media and act on the basis of this information, you could certainly be headed for a fall. If you uncritically accept tweets or Facebook posts as expert opinion about something, then you cannot scream “fake news” when you find them to be false.

The Latin phrase caveat emptor, ‘let the buyer beware’, is just as relevant to opinions on social media as it is to the business world. It is your responsibility to verify the truth about statements, opinions or advice that you read on social media, before acting on it, or even worse, spreading the false news by retweeting it.

Learn to use social media platforms moderately and consciously so that its impact on your life and health is positive. Here are a few ways that you could stay healthy while browsing social media.

Assign a certain time during the day and a fixed duration to use social media platforms. Remain committed to reading, viewing, posting or tweeting only during this fixed period, so that it does not interfere or infringe on your work, family or social life.

Weaning yourself off an addiction is difficult and social media is no different. Get help from professionals or try productivity apps that limit your access to certain sites.

Read everything on social media with a big pinch of salt. Verify and validate any piece of news you get on social media, especially before you start to spread the news.

Do not use social media as a source for medical advice. Always consult a doctor about any ailment or read up on studies published in reputed periodicals about any disease.

Stay off social media and any communications platforms while crossing the street, driving or doing anything else that is potentially dangerous.

Switch off all social media an hour before going to bed

Stay positive and do not waste your time, energy and mental peace by arguing with someone online about the merits or demerits of an issue. At the end of the day, what they say and what you reply, is not going to make an iota of difference. 

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