4 Signs of Problematic Social Media Use and How It Impacts Mental Health


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Experiencing the symptoms of a mental health disorder? Social media might not be helping. While social media can be a good way to connect with friends and family, it can also have many negative effects on your mental health. This is typically due to excessive use. For some, social media can feel like an addiction. Understanding the signs of unhealthy social media usage can help prevent worsening symptoms.

In today’s world, it can feel like being on social media is an essential part of life. The perceived pressure to be always online can lead to addiction-like symptoms related to social media. With so much youth culture being internet based, feeling addicted to social media can be an especially challenging situation for teenagers. The first step in addressing this issue is being aware of the signs. By noticing the signs, you can take proactive steps to manage social media usage and seek treatment when necessary.

4 common signs of problematic social media use

  • Excessive screen time — Do you spend a lot of time online? Spending excessive amounts of time in front of a screen can do harm to your body and your mind. Teens grappling with conditions like depression and anxiety often turn to social media to find distractions from their thoughts. While the distraction can feel gratifying at first, it can actually worsen your symptoms over time. If you are using social media as a way to cope, you may begin to depend on it more and more. This can lead to spending several hours each day on social media. You may find yourself constantly scrolling through feeds and checking for new notifications. Because being on social media can skew your perception of time, you may not be sure whether your screen time is actually excessive. People often think they spend less time online than they actually do. Want to know whether your screen time could be a sign of problematic social media usage or dependency? Try recording how much time you spend on social media during one day. The result can be highly informative.
  • Escaping reality — Social media is often used as a way to escape real-life challenges. In trying to escape from the real world’s negative aspects, though, you may be vulnerable to toxic positivity. Toxic positivity happens when negative thoughts and feelings are shunned to maintain an idealistic facade. People on social media often present only the best aspects of their life, which can lead to an environment where toxic positivity thrives. Being immersed in toxic positivity can make it harder to admit when you need help. While trying to escape reality, you may start to feel more shame when negative thoughts and feelings do arise. Fortunately, there are better ways to manage your mental health issues. A licensed clinical therapist can help you work through all your emotions in a way that feels natural and constructive.
  • Avoiding responsibilities — Has social media overtaken your other priorities? Avoiding responsibilities to engage with a source of stimulation is a key sign of addictive behavior. You might prioritize social media over daily responsibilities such as homework, chores or a job. Important tasks may be procrastinated so that you can continue to engage with social media. This shift in priorities can occur due to the immediate gratification offered by social media. Whereas other tasks can offer more long-term fulfillment, social media is designed to offer quick bursts of feel-good sensations. Professional treatment can be a great way to keep your priorities in order. You can work with your therapist to stay grounded while addressing your condition.
  • Compulsive posting — Do you feel compelled to post constant updates on social media? Compulsive craving is a common sign of addiction. When craving stimulation from social media, posting content can be a reliable way to fulfill your desires. Frequent posting can be harmful, especially when it leads to oversharing. You may risk your personal privacy and safety. If you find yourself posting a lot of content compulsively, it might be time to seek treatment.

Lightfully can help you nurture a healthier relationship with social media

Looking for coping mechanisms that are healthier than social media? Lightfully Behavioral Health can help you replace addiction-like coping behaviors through innovative treatment. The framework of our treatment for teens consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Our licensed clinical experts are prepared through years of training and experience, and we are driven by compassion. With our help, you can reduce your dependency on social media and find better sources of fulfillment.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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