Smartphones, Social Media, and Mental Health

January 30, 2023

I want to talk a little about how smartphone and social media overuse are detrimental to our mental health. Social media is a way we can stay in touch with our friends and family, but overuse and overreliance is strongly correlated to poor mental health.

According to the Mclean Medical School, social media has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain’s reward center. It is designed to be addictive and is associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments. A recent study from the university of North Carolina states, “[frequently] checking social media in early adolescence may tune the brain’s sensitivity to potential social rewards and punishments…causing students to become more sensitive to peer feedback”. Those looking at social media 15 or more times per day were at highest risk. 69% of adults and 81% of teens use social media and are at an increased risk of feeling anxious and depressed.

A recent research study has found that since 2020 mobile phone and social media use has skyrocketed. The study’s author reports that “Problematic smartphone and social media use correlates to three unhealthy outcomes:

  • the loss of self-control,
  • The fear of missing out and
  • repetitive negative thinking

Information from Germany’s RUD university reports that cutting back mobile phone use by 1 hour a day can curb some of the negative effects.

Using a mobile phone is almost necessary. Too much use leads to problems. Find alternatives to scrolling through your phone. Set limits for yourself and your children. Encourage creative and activity-based pursuits in place of social media. Instead, play a board game, do a word puzzle, read, or take a walk.

-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCCS, Executive Director

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