Zeenia Baria| TNN | Jan 21, 2017, 01.00 AM IST

Don't let social media take over your life (Thinkstock)Don’t let social media take over your life (Thinkstock)
It’s hard to imagine life without social media, isn’t it? For a large number of the urban population, Facebook, Twitter, Instagrametc. have become de rigueur — such an integral and essential part of life that even the thought of not being able to access them seems incomprehensible. Whether you belong to the category that likes to document every tiny aspect of their life on social media or the one that simply likes to see what other people are up to, there is no escaping its claws. In recent times, several studies have revealed that while social media has its positive side, it can also lead to self-esteem issues, among others. The latest study reported that taking a break from social media just for a week could actually boost mental health.
Social media can be very addictive
Says consultant psychiatrist Dr Pavan Sonar, “Social media can have a negative impact on mental well-being because of its addictive potential. People often get addicted to social media and spend hours of their time there. This can cause reduced productivity as well as relationship issues in real life. As with any addictive substance, social media could also give you a false ‘high’. You may portray yourself better than the real you. The likes and good comments may work as positive reinforcements to do same again and again. Your awkwardness in the real world can be easily hidden in this virtual world. The constant need to get attention might be satisfied here. Your craving for gossip and checking what other people are up to also make you visit the site repeatedly.”
Adds psychiatrist Dr Ashish Gambre, “Social media today is a medium of instant communication where one gets all the news and recent updates from friends and around the world. Unfortunately, today’s youth also look for validation, approval and comparison, which, in turn, can have a negative impact on their mental well-being. There are so many social media sites on the Internet and the reason one gets addicted is simple — you can communicate with a lot of people at one time and share a part of your life with yourcomments, pictures and videos. When one starts getting likes and positive comments, he or she simply gets encouraged to do more.”

How to lower your use

The first thing that one needs to do is understand and accept that there is a problem of spending too much time on social media. Only once this acceptance is made, can one move forward for a positive change.

  • Firstly, track the time spent on these sites.
  • Remove unnecessary apps and notifications from your smartphone.
  • Prioritise your work. First focus on completing your real work; go online only once you’ve finished all your tasks.
  • Go out and meet friends instead of chatting with them in the virtual world.

“By reducing the use of too much social media, one can meet people face to face and make real friends, focus more on the work at hand, increase productivity and thereby, gain confidence. Social media is a great tool to use but it is up to you how you use it for your benefit,” explains Dr Gambre.

Ends Dr Sonar, “People need to acknowledge how social media is causing problems in their real life. Uninstall apps on your smartphone and stick to your decision of spending less time — say maximum 20 minutes — in 24 hours on social media. Curbing your use helps improve mental health more than you realise.

Latest Comment

Otherwise it going to break our life, family life. We will not be able to be with nature
Prakash Vadnere

  • It gives you plenty of time to spend on yourself and your near and dear ones in the real world.
  • Helps you to be more realistic about yourself and others.
  • Increases your productivity.
  • Keeps you away from negative emotions that one often encounters online.
  • You remain socially safe rather than isolated.

What the study said

A new study split nearly 2,000 people, aged 34 on average, into two groups. One group would keep on with their social media use as usual. The other group quit using it for a week. Before and after the study period, participants answered questions designed to capture their attitudes about the site and their styles of use. Some were active users, meaning they posted pictures and updates, and some were passive users, meaning that they typically just scrolled through the newsfeed or browsed profiles. They were also asked questions about their life satisfaction and about mental health, including happiness, loneliness, enthusiasm, depression, decisiveness and anger.

After a week, people who’d given up on this were better off in several regards. They had better well-being and life satisfaction. Study author Tromholt Morten said, “The present study provides causal evidence that quitting it leads to higher levels of both cognitive and affective well-being. The participants who took a one-week break reported significantly higher levels of life satisfaction and a significantly improved emotional life.”