5 Signs Your Social Media Use Is Becoming Unhealthy
Raise your hand if you can't sleep after scrolling through Instagram.
Social media is an essential part of many people's daily lives, whether you're using it to make connections for work or keep up with family and friends. And while it may seem to be a universal way for most of us to communicate and be entertained, it's easy to get sucked in and spend hours doom scrolling, keeping tabs on a former flame, or compulsively buying things. It's just that addictive. If you're concerned about your own social media usage, read on for five signs that your social media use is becoming unhealthy, according to experts.
Your self-esteem is plummeting.
Social media often showcases highly-filtered and edited images of friends and strangers alike. That perfect wrinkle-free skin you see on your former college roommate may be more smoke and mirrors than reality, but it can be hard to not compare it to your own. People are only showing the highlights of their life on social media, but seeing someone's glamorous European vacation or the perfectly put-together tablescape they whipped for the holidays can still make you feel a little less than.
"There's nothing wrong with seeing our friends, celebrities, and entertainers posting selfies to their social media accounts, but you shouldn't feel inferior to them as a result," says Sai Blackbyrn, a social media coach and CEO of Coach Foundation. "It may be harmful to your well-being if what you see on social media provokes or triggers you."
It's important to remind yourself that what you see on social media is not real life and to take a breather when you start to feel like your self-esteem is being compromised.
You have been having sleep issues.
It's normal for many of us to scroll through our Instagram or Facebook feeds before bed, but it may be becoming a problem if it's negatively affecting your sleep schedule.
"If you are having trouble sleeping due to social media, that is a symptom of harmful use," says Blackbyrn. "These symptoms, such as difficulty putting it down before bed or waking up in the middle of the night to examine it, indicate that you have formed an unhealthy pattern."
The National Sleep Association suggests putting your phone away at least 30 minutes before you go to bed to ensure a better night's sleep. "Electronic devices emit bright blue light that your brain perceives as sunlight, tricking it into delaying sleep, and keeping you awake longer than you'd like," they report.
Opting for a book before bed instead of screen will benefit both your physical and mental health.
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You can't seem to stop scrolling.
One of the major signs that your social media use is becoming unhealthy is when you can't stop scrolling no matter how much you try to distract yourself from it.
"Although texting is something we mostly use our phones for, social media is a very close second," says Rachel Eddins, LPC and executive director of Eddins Counseling. "Most of us have two to three social media accounts which we check regularly. If you always have your head down and are checking your accounts even just for a second, your use of social media is starting to become unhealthy."
You use social media more than you see actual people.
It may be time to monitor your social media use if you're on your phone or laptop more than you have actual human interaction. Since the height of the pandemic has passed, it's more important than ever to connect and share your human experiences with others.
"You might be losing out on a crucial component of healthy socialization if you aren't catching up with friends in person as often as you used to and are instead just perusing their online posts," says Blackbyrn. "It may be time to check in with yourself to ensure your social networking use is not bordering on unhealthy if it is taking the place of face-to-face contact,"
It's one thing to be an introvert, but if you're avoiding human connection in favor of your electronics, it may be time to take a step back and evaluate your relationship with social media.
Your relationships are suffering.
If your relationships with your significant other, friends, or family is suffering that's a major red flag that you've been attached to social media more than your own reality.
"Relationships might suffer from social media's harmful consequences," says Blackbyrn. "Your closest connections may be hurting if your loved ones accuse you of investing more time on social media than with them."
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if your friend posted a picture of their fabulous new outfit or if a stranger you follow is on an extravagant vacation. Social media will never be as authentic or important as your own life.