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Get Your Consultation: 734-992-7700
Fax: 734-585-5634

How Can You Leverage Your Devices and Social Media to Serve Your Goals?

watercolor image of cell phone

watercolor image of cell phone With Social Media, where do you stand?

How has your use been? Have you been tracking it? 

For so many of us, reaching for our devices has become so seamless and, oh, so compulsive. It’s easy to not really have a clear picture of how much time we are spending on our phones and social media. 

10 min here, 15 minutes there…If we add it up – often it’s well beyond just minutes. Do you know how much time you are actually spending scrolling across social media platforms? 

If you do, and it’s 2, 3, 6 or more hours each day, do you care? If so, what would you do with that time if you did not spend it on your phone and social platforms?

Have you attempted to cut down on your usage? If so, how successful were you? 

Ultimately, some of us are able to moderate our usage, while others find greater success in simply quitting. 

If you are using social media, what is your relationship with “likes”?  How do you feel about the burst of dopamine that comes from getting “likes”’? 

Does it impact your mood and sense of self worth? 

As you scroll through your social media feed, each ‘like’ on your post can feel like a small victory, a digital nod of approval from peers, family members, acquaintances or even strangers. This seemingly innocent quest for virtual validation has become a pillar of social media interaction, effortlessly blurring the lines between online affirmation and self-worth. The pursuit of likes, shares, and comments has subtly entwined itself with your sense of identity and well-being, often without a second thought to the consequences.

What if the content shared is either liked or disliked by followers?

Do you return to the platform to check for validation?

By now we know that beneath the surface of these interactions lies a complex web of psychological effects. The demand for constant contact and social approval can take a toll on our mental health, leading to an incessant need for validation and subsequent feelings of inadequacy when expectations are not met. 

The intermittent rewards of social media likes generate a pattern of behavior similar to addiction, where your mood and self-esteem hinge on the digital approval of others. 

Ask yourself, how does social media impact your mood in the moment? Were you feeling content before signing on and then…..? 

What about the impact on your behavior, self-perception and relationships in the real world?

Many clients tell us about the impact on various aspects of their life, from self-image to social anxiety

By now, many of us understand, through sometimes refuse to admit, the profound effect social media has on our mental health. Some of us are prepared to embrace change while others are not there yet. Ultimately, recognizing and admitting to the drawbacks of how we use our devices, social media and the pursuit of “likes” is the initial step towards creating a more deliberate connection with our devices and digital tools.

And if you are still on the fence about the impact that social media usage has on you specifically, consider how the following areas impact in your life specifically. 

Self-Esteem and Validation

We often receive instant feedback in the form of likes, which can become a source of validation. It’s not uncommon for us to equate the number of likes with a measure of worth or popularity. A high number of likes might boost our self-esteem temporarily, while a lower number can lead to self-doubt pretty quickly.

  • Boost: A post with many likes can make you feel successful and acknowledged.
  • Decline: Fewer likes may result in you questioning your content’s value or your personal appeal.

Anxiety and Social Pressure

Likes can also create a sense of social pressure. You might worry about the reception of your posts, leading to anxiety over social media performance.

  • Concerns: Will your post be well-received? What will friends think?
  • Expectations: You might feel the need to maintain a persona or a streak of popular posts.

Depression and Loneliness

Lastly, reliance on social media likes can contribute to feelings of depression and loneliness. If you start to depend on virtual approval, the lack of interaction can feel isolating.

  • Dependence: Relying on likes for happiness can be risky as you have little control over others’ engagement.
  • Isolation: A decrease in likes might lead you to feel disconnected or ignored by your social circle.

Mitigating Negative Impacts

To reduce the potential harm of social media on your mental health, engage with these platforms thoughtfully and with adequate support.

Promoting Digital Literacy

Understanding the algorithms: Knowing how social media algorithms work can help you recognize why certain content appears in your feed and how your online behavior affects this. It’s important for you to be aware that content is curated to maximize engagement, not necessarily to benefit your mental well-being.

See the Social Dilemma? Great reminders there. 

What else can you do?

Critical assessment of content: Train yourself to critically assess the authenticity and intent behind the posts you see. By doing so, you can circumvent some of the negative feelings of inadequacy or anxiety that may arise from comparing yourself to the often unrealistic portrayals on social media.

Support Networks and Communities

Seeking positive spaces: Find and participate in online communities that focus on support and general good, communities that support a good cause, are intentional and help you feel better, not worse. 

Avoid isolation: Ensure that your social media use does not replace face-to-face interactions. Balance your online engagements with offline relationships and activities to maintain a healthy social life.

Encouraging Mindful Engagement

Setting boundaries: Establish clear limits for how much time you spend on social media. For example, you may want to create a daily or weekly schedule where you set the platform and total minutes allowed. 

Reflective usage: Regularly ask yourself whether the time you are spending on social media is adding value to your life. If it’s not, it may be time to reassess your habits and make necessary changes.

The Positive Side 

watercolor image of cell phone with social media messages While the dark side of social media likes can have significant impacts on mental health, it’s important to recognize that these platforms can also be a source of good, awareness and support. When used mindfully, social media can foster meaningful connections, provide access to valuable information and resources and even offer a sense of community.

Many individuals have found social media to be a helpful tool in connecting with like-minded individuals, joining supportive groups and accessing mental health resources. Some online spaces can offer a sense of belonging and validation that may be difficult to find in offline settings. Social media can also serve as a platform for raising awareness about mental health issues, destigmatizing conversations and providing education and tips for self-care.  Be in control of what you consume.  Curate your social media feed and engage in a balanced and intentional manner.  Some people can harness the potential benefits of these platforms while mitigating the negative impact.

The effects of social media likes on mental health are complex. While the pursuit of digital validation can lead to negative consequences, such as diminished self-esteem, anxiety and feelings of loneliness, it’s crucial to recognize that social media can also be a valuable tool when used thoughtfully. By cultivating digital literacy, building positive support networks and practicing mindful engagement, you can navigate the social media landscape in a way that promotes your overall well-being. Striking a healthy balance and maintaining a critical perspective are key to ensuring that your online interactions enhance, rather than detract from, your mental health.

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