The average person living in the UK is checking their phone 28 times per day.

Everyone is using smartphones and social media apps these days. Many of them don’t realize that social media causes stress and anxiety.

Many studies are being done on the psychological effects of social media. Researchers are finding the more people use social media, the more anxious or sad they feel.

Are you trying to learn about whether there is a connection between social media and stress?

Keep reading below to hear how too much social media can lead to mental health issues. We’ll discuss the popularity of social media, how it causes stress, the effects it’s having on young people, and what you can do to set healthy limits.

The Incredible Popularity of Social Media

Remarkably, in only one-decade social media went from an obscure new technology to an essential part of our lives.

About 7.7 billion people are living in the world today and it’s estimated that one in three of them are social media users.

Facebook is the largest social media app in the world (with 2.4 billion users). There are many other platforms used daily: YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and others.

Brand new social media platforms are being released each year, increasing the total number of users.

Social media is changing how our world works—news, communication, entertainment, and shopping are now being done through these apps. For some people, they’re being done exclusively through these apps.

How fast are these platforms growing in the United States? The percent of American adults using social media increased from 5% in 2005 to 79% in 2019.

The downside of this unprecedented popularity is that more users are reporting increased levels of stress and anxiety. Let’s take a look at why this is happening.

Why Social Media Causes Stress and Anxiety

Social media’s appeal, and its ability to cause stress, are both rooted in our brain chemistry.

Research from Lancaster University and the University of Bamberg found users are becoming more addicted to social media even though it’s causing them anxiety. The phenomenon is being called “technostress.”

Dopamine is a reward chemical in the brain that is released when we eat something delicious, have sex, or finish a good workout. But, it’s also being activated with social media.

Each time a user logs into a social media app they see notifications in the forms of likes, comments, shares, or messages. Dopamine is released—making a person feel satisfied—and the brain is slowly conditioned to start craving more.

As a result, average usage times on social media have increased to 2-4 hours per day (sometimes more) and 73% of users have experienced severe anxiety at not being able to locate their phone to check social media.

Human brains are naturally wired to be social and they’re rewarded for their interactions. Social media provides an unlimited number of interactions. Eventually, it causes the user to become addicted to opening the app.

Effects of Social Media and Stress on Youth

The addictive properties of social media and “technostress” are hitting young people the hardest. Not only are their brains still developing, but none of them have experienced a world without social media.

One 2018 study from Pew Research Center found 97% of teenagers use a social media platform.

How are teens affected exactly? Social media is increasing their anxiety, distracting them from school or work, disrupting sleep, opening the door to cyberbullying, and teaching them an unrealistic view of the world.

They get anxious about not being able to check their accounts regularly. Many are also suffering from lower self-esteem due to the curated nature of social media. After all, no one posts bad pictures of themselves.

Numerous studies have been done on psychological stress and social media use in teens. Most found that teens who use social media are at higher risk of experiencing mental health issues.

Tips on Maintaining Healthy Social Media Use

Stress and anxiety from social media is a serious issue. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your online behavior, you can learn to set healthy limits on your usage.

Here are some healthy steps to take when using social media:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend on social media each day and use apps like Moment or RescueTime to enforce it
  • Have a reason for logging on so you don’t get trapped mindlessly scrolling
  • Keep your phone away when spending time with friends or family in real life
  • Reflect on whether your posts are positive and thoughtful (or are they toxic)
  • Stop comparing your life to the other people you see on social media

Whether a week, month, or longer, some people take social media breaks or detoxes to reset their minds. Many of them report feeling less stressed and better able to concentrate.

Other people close their accounts entirely. Why keep doing something that causes you anxiety?

A user closing their Facebook account, for example, may download FB video that are personal or save meaningful photographs before hitting delete. That way they’ll preserve the memory from a special event or vacation.

Another great idea is to delete the apps from your phone so you only check them on a desktop computer or tablet. This may decrease the desire to check your phone every few minutes.

Don’t Let Social Media Control Your Life!

There are so many benefits to social media: instant communication worldwide, product reviews, realtime customer service, staying up-to-date on current events, and more.

But, don’t forget that social media and stress are interconnected. It’s easy for you to become addicted to constantly checking your accounts. Don’t let that happen!

Social media platforms are such a huge part of our lives but they are simply communication tools. Users should schedule regular breaks from this technology.

And they should remember that what’s happening on social media isn’t always a reflection of real life.

Follow some of the tips we provided above to set healthy limits on your social media usage. In the meantime, keep reading more about health and wellness on our website.

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