For years, everyone has been told the negative effects that social media can have on your mental health, but have you ever been told about the benefits? In this article, I’m going to explore the positive ways in which social media can benefit your mental health.
Despite what we think, social media is one of the best outlets of motivation. Have you ever heard of Emotional Contagion? It’s the phenomenal theory that one person's emotions and behaviours can trigger another person to feel similar emotions/ behaviours. For instance, if you share a goal that you are trying to achieve on social media and post about it frequently, it then creates an online ‘support system’ of people who give you credit and accountability for what you are trying to achieve. Working towards a goal and sharing it with others, encourages your peers to feel motivated to achieve a particular goal that they have. (Emotional Contagion).
The original purpose of social media is to connect with those around you. Many people believe that social media can alter natural human interaction, but for some, it is said to enhance it. Take social anxiety, for instance, people suffering from social anxiety struggle to communicate within social situations. Having access to social networking takes away the difficulty of face to face interaction. It can also boost confidence online which can then be transferred to confidence when meeting people in person.
Finding your voice
This is particularly beneficial for young people, as the teenage years are when you discover yourself most. Social media can be used as a platform for discussion and debate, allowing you to voice your opinions and connect with others that also share your views. This can build trust and confidence, as you can reach thousands, if not millions of people to make yourself heard. Sharing and voicing your opinions, and connecting with those that agree with you, gives you the confidence to express your own opinion in everyday life. You can build a social profile that does not represent you as a person but merely your opinions, making it easier to voice them.
Experience and skill building
Social networking provides you with many helpful skills that can help you in the workplace and with your day to day life. With everything being taken over by the digital world, having the online skills used for social media, will make you find it much easier to adapt to the rest of the digital world.
If you have an interest or hobby and want to find others with similar interests, social networking is ideal. You can extensively research any topic and see the trending articles relating to it, as well as other people who are all searching the same. Meaning you can connect with more people and discover new information at any time.
Social media provides a way for those who struggle with their mental health to access support. It opens an opportunity for discussion for people that find it difficult to talk about their problems and confine in those around them. Anyone can express how they feel and have their chosen peers support them without even having to know their name. If people use social profiles for positivity and only communicate with others doing the same, social media is a great way to project your emotions. Making it a safe and welcoming place to be when you're struggling with your own mind.
A Carnegie Mellon University study showed that one to one interaction on social media makes people feel more bonded. The interaction between those you meet online can help to overcome loneliness, as you have people who you can talk to when you cannot have face to face contact. Social media allows you to communicate with people from all over the world and in different time zones, meaning there is a 24/7 opportunity to talk to someone and battle loneliness.
As with anything, there are also negative factors. How it affects you depends completely on the conditioning of the person that is using the platforms. High usage or addiction to social media will have negative effects on you. Studies have shown that addictive use is linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression. However, if you have a healthy relationship with social media, the benefits will outweigh the negatives, and you are less likely to suffer from particular mental health problems. Social media should not take over your life, it should excel you in life and give you the confidence you need to be successful and connect with those around you.
If you're struggling with your mental health, you can get in contact with many charities such as the Samaritans, online or by phone.
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Author: Tilly Gould