Think about how many times we check our social media accounts each day. Most of us wake up and immediately check our phones to see what we've missed within the past eight or so hours. According to Fortune, the average millennial spends about 27 hours a week browsing social media while those over 50 only spend about four hours a week on the same sites. Along with this, the average person has five social media accounts. That's a lot. Many of us don't realize how much time we actually spend on social media, along with the negative effects it can have on our mental health.
Constantly checking our phones for a message or scrolling through Instagram is something that may not seem like a big deal, but in reality, it can cause us to compare ourselves to others, decrease our confidence, understanding, and thoughtfulness and give us FOMO (fear of missing out). Along with this, it can make it so we don't truly enjoy the moment we're in. How many times have we been at a gathering or special occasion and instead of focusing on what's actually going on, we're concerned about immediately sharing the event on Instagram or Snapchat?
Even as I write this, I continue to pick my phone up to check Snapchat and other social media platforms. Continuously checking social media decreases our face-to-face communication skills and lacks emotional connection. Often times, there are misunderstandings online in terms of tone of voice and other things like that which can cause unnecessary stress.
It's so easy to get caught in a social media hole. With platforms from Instagram to Facebook to Snapchat, there's always something new to be looking at or reading. When we decide to stay in for a night, we tend to get FOMO as I mentioned above. There's nothing wrong with missing out every once in a while. However, social media tends to make us feel bad about it.
There's nothing wrong with spending time on social media as it is a huge communication tool, and now a lot of personal branding is done on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. However, being aware of the amount of time we spend on social media platforms as well as keeping our own lives in perspective is something that is important for us to do. There are so many other things we could be doing to increase our mental health and happiness instead of sitting in bed scrolling through social media for hours at a time.
Even if it seems like we have nothing to do but watch videos on YouTube or communicate with our friends through a screen, there's always something to involve ourselves in outside of our phones. Some of these things include making plans with friends to get coffee, spending time with our families playing a game or simply finding a hobby such as writing or painting that allows us to spend some alone time with ourselves.
As the new year begins, I am encouraging myself to limit my time on my phone and take breaks from social media every once in a while, as I feel that it will make me feel better mentally as well as aid in my face-to-face social skills. There's no reason to be comparing ourselves to others who live lives so different than our own. Limiting the time we spend on social media can help us to feel happier in our own skin and be content with our own lives.