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Social media and mental health

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Addiction and bad habits

Social media addiction is better defined as the overuse of social media consumption. Over the past five years there has been a proliferation of studies assessing how excessive social media use can impact negatively on health.

In a recent paper for Psychology Today showed that social media use for a minority of individuals is associated with a number of psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, loneliness, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and addiction. Because social media is most frequently accessed via smartphones, their usage is intimately intertwined and their mobile nature contributes to excessive checking habits, which often derives from what is commonly labelled as the ‘fear of missing out’ or FOMO. (Psychology Today).

Sleep Disruption

There are three key factors disrupting our sleep that are dually liked to social media use.

1. Engagement during the last 30 minutes before bed was found to be the strongest indicator of a poor night’s sleep.

2. The blue light emitted from our screens inhibits our melatonin levels – a chemical that effectively tells us that it’s time to nod off.

3. Physical activity helps people sleep better. More screen time is also likely to reduce time spent for physical activity.

For further insight read the BBC special series #likeminded.

Obsessive scrolling and checking

We're all guilty of this act, but some people have admitted to spending up to eight hours a day just aimlessly checking social media pages from popular sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to Reddit. This excessive act includes blindly scrolling, skimming headlines and continuously switching between the different social platforms.

If you feel this is impacting your peak productivity, consider switching your phone to monochrome setting during the workday or work hours. This colour change minimises your constant attention to your phone. Lastly, to help you focus on a task, turn your phone over on the desk, hiding the screen and keeping you from getting distracted from notifications.

Finstagram and Rinstagram

Finsta and Rinsta accounts on Instagram are particularly popular with teen girls.

There is a lot of pressure to maintain an Instagram account. It is not just a case of snap and post - it capturing the right snap, using multiple pics, choosing words that make you sound interesting, filtering and editing the pics and finally posting. That is just one posting!

The stress and pressure of maintaining a social media account is real.

Introduce the Finsta account - a "fake" Instagram account. An increasing number of people use a Finsta account to post whatever they choose without the added pressure to make their instagram pics look perfect.


Whether in friendship and dating relationships or professional and work relationships, social media use shapes and is shaped by how individuals see their relationships, who they have relationships with, and how those relationships are formed, maintained, and ended. (ResearchGate).

Colleagues connect via social media platforms, but the sense of snooping into someone's world or social interactions that may negatively impact work relationships do occur.

If you find yourself excessively consuming social media, remember you have the control and you control the time you spend online. Adopt a sensible work-attitude approach when posting comments and interacting with work colleagues online.

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