Studies show break from social media needed during pandemic

By Tiffany Scifres, Danielle Schoonover, Riannon Beddington, Harrison Clark, QU Masters’ students in counseling

Social media has been one of the fastest-growing platforms we’ve seen in the history of the internet. While it may hold the obvious benefits of being able to reach out to friends and family in faraway places, the mental health risks that follow are not often talked about. In addition to the plethora of issues brought along by COVID-19, now is an important time to reassess and check in on one’s social media usage during this time.

The year 2020 hasn’t been easy for the vast majority of us, individuals are speaking out about the isolation and difficulties being experienced with lockdowns, face masks, new regulations, job security, and more. One topic that has recently been addressed is the increased use of social media during this time. With face-to-face communication being restricted, it’s not unrealistic to believe that people are spending more time on their screens.

The questions that then need to be asked are: is it coping or addiction? is it harmful? and what to do if so. A study published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry this year done by a team in India, found that individuals have increased their usage of social media by an alarmingly high amount.

During the beginning of the outbreak, another team of researchers found the prevalence of depression, anxiety and a combination of depression and anxiety (CDA) to be 48 %, 23 %, and 19 % respectively. Moreover, 82 % of participants who were frequently exposed to social media reported high odds of anxiety as well as CDA.

If you are struggling with mental health during this time, know that you’re not alone. Ironically, you’re likely seeing this article via a social media platform, but, decreasing your social media usage can be one of the first steps towards bettering your mental health during this difficult time. Some steps to take to decrease social media time can be creating limits and rules on how much time you can spend on specific applications on your devices, there are even apps for that.

Taking intermittent breaks every so often when you find yourself getting lost in the scrolling of your feeds. Remembering to do daily check-ins with how you have been feeling. Picking up new hobbies like reading, journaling, baking, and more. It is important to remember that we are human, and while we need social contact, relying on social media, as supported by research, can be damaging. If you are experiencing symptoms and need someone to talk to, counseling services are available, free of charge, through Quincy University and Quincy Medical Group.               

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