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Social media and mental health

From this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday

Social media is perhaps one of our new modern-day addictions and guilty pleasures. It’s a fascinating use of technology because on its surface there are so many positives for having it, for example, finding a job, playing games, staying in touch with relatives and friends and, even more recently, finding love. With so many positive applications of social media, it is hard to imagine why it’s become commonplace to blame social media for the woes of today’s society.

If one was to look at the impact of social media on mental health, it might not be a surprise to find a lot of negative perceptions surrounding the relationship between social media and mental health, especially its impact to society. We must be under no illusions, social media can be very dangerous when misused. Governments and organisations have insisted that social media companies take more action to police and protect its users from dangers such as grooming and cyber bullying.

With the many facets of mental health, you would be forgiven for thinking social media was all doom and gloom for our mental health, but don’t forget, social media and the technologies that drive them have got some very positive and important functions to play, nowadays more than ever.

Bailey Parnell discusses this topic in detail in her TED Talk ‘ Is Social Media Hurting your Mental Health’

So let’s take a couple of minutes to reflect on how social media and technologies can positively impact our mental health.

It’s a Way to Enhance our Connectivity

Social media is now an effortless way to connect with the like-minded people. You are just a “follow” away from a staggering number of such people. Irrespective of your location and religion, social networks are helpful in reviving and preserving relationships with other people. It’s now easier for us to connect with family and friends and just receiving a message can be a real positive experience.

A lovely gesture to make someone you care about feel positive and happy could be as simple as a message telling them you’re thinking about them.

 Social Media in Education

It has become very easy to get knowledge from renowned experts and professionals through the use of such sites as StackOverflow and StackExchange. You can easily follow anyone to boost your knowledge. So next time you feel stress of not knowing something, take your queries to the world and get your questions answered.

Charities and Awareness

Our mood can be influenced by what we see on social media. It doesn’t have to be seen as a brain washing process. If it’s raising awareness of road safety, child abuse, cancer or even a sponsored walk, social media can help with promotion of good causes. It can also help to create awareness and help people to discover various innovations that help them enhance their own lives. We can all benefit from the awareness factor of social media.

Benefits Mental Health

Emotions expressed online can affect our moods. It not only helps to relieve social isolation but also to open new communication pathways and can offer much-needed support. It allows people to share their thoughts without revealing their identity. And it develops within people an enhanced talent of self-expression without any fear.

In this time of isolation, we can all do with inspiration and motivation. It can positively affect your mindset. Social media can allow people to entertain or be entertained, motivate or to be motivated, educate or be educated, inspire or to be inspired.

The challenge is to use this wonderful medium as a source of good and not to exploit its vulnerabilities.

Amy Smith

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