Even though the modern age of communication we live in has made our day-to-day lives easier and more convenient in a number of ways, an interesting fact about modern technology and social media outlets is that they might actually be causing more harm than good to our mental health. The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported staggering statistics shared by Google and Ipsos, which shows that the Aussie ownership rate of smartphones and tablets is much higher in Australia than in other developed countries such as the US, UK, Germany and France.
Furthermore, more than 70 percent of Australian smartphone owners watch videos on their devices on a regular basis, and 19 percent do it daily. These numbers, provided by Google and Ipsos, also bring us to the conclusion that Australians are more exposed to the negative effects that social media and modern technology can have on one’s mental health.
What are the negative effects of social media on mental health?
Spending hours upon hours on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram might be entertaining, but have you ever wondered how the images, conversations, and emoji responses affect your brain? Numerous studies have been conducted on this subject, and one in particular, shared by AsapScience, showed that while social media does have the power to bring people closer, it also carries a host of inconvenient effects that can be deleterious to one’s brain and mental health. Some of the negative effects include:
- Degradation of white matter in the regions of the brain that are responsible for controlling emotional processing, one’s attention span, and decision making.
- Due to social media’s property to provide immediate rewards, the brain rewires itself and triggers the desire for the same awards over and over again; i.e. it produces effects akin to an addiction. This could be extremely harmful to one’s mental health since it can lead to depression, anxiety, and even constant sleeplessness, also known as insomnia if the responses (such as Likes on Facebook) do not meet one’s expectations.
- And last but not least, increased multi tasking online can decrease the brain's ability to filter out interferences, and retain new information for a prolonged period of time (i.e. loss of long-term memory).
How to alleviate the problem?
If you find that you are among the 70 percent of Australians who are glued to their smartphone, and might be experiencing anxiety, stress, sleeplessness, or memory loss, improving your brain health with focus and memory boosting supplements is a good step. Other ways to better your mental health include:
- Decreasing the amount spent on your phone/computer
- Banning electronics from the bedroom
- Turning off your phone/social media an hour before bedtime to assure better-quality sleep
- Exercising on a regular basis to lower stress and anxiety levels
Technology and social media can be fun and extremely helpful, but taking care of your brain and mental health should be a priority. Thus, in order to avoid inconvenient scenarios, such as depression, anxiety, and stress--all triggered by technology--make sure to use these communication tools in moderation.