With all the recent headlines around social media use and it being linked to depression and anxiety in our kids (and likely in the uptick we are seeing in adults as well), I started delving into the research and some of the statistics I'm reading are ASTOUNDING.
According to data published in April 2021 by Pew Research Center, 84 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are active on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or another social media site.
The findings of a review article published in July 2020 in the Journal of International Review of Psychiatry, show rates of depression and suicidal behavior among teens have risen over the past two decades, and these rising rates have coincided with the advent of social media. The review analyzed data from 42 studies that included thousands of adolescents and teens ages 10 to 18.
A 2019 study found the risk of depression in children rises with each hour spent daily on social media.
And there are lots more interesting statistics and research found on this Broadband blog, "How Do Your Social Media Habits Measure Up."
And the use of our phones and social media doesn't just apply to teens. The adults are just as guilty of letting it interfere with their day to day work habits.
57 percent of hiring managers have found social media content posted by a job candidate that caused them not to hire that candidate, according to an April–May 2018 CareerBuilder survey.
Another 2016 Career Builder survey reported that 82% of employees put their smartphones where they can see them while working and that 3 out of 4 employers say 2 or more hours a day are lost in productivity because employees are distracted.
According to a 2018 survey by Udemy, more than 70% of workers report feeling distracted on the job, with 16% saying they almost always feel unfocused.
All of this lost work is costing American businesses upward of $650 billion per year, and it is leading to vicious cycles of employee dissatisfaction: Productivity loss causes a longer workday, which causes stress and frustration, which leads to a lack of engagement, which leads to employee burnout. A never ending vicious cycle.
In my health coaching program we spend a whole session on technology boundaries and social media is heavily discussed topic with lots of differing opinions. But I tend to fall back on the research, and the statistics are definitely showing that it's a contributing factor to burnout. So with that here are my tips for how to have a healthy relationship with your social media feeds.
1. Consider limiting which platforms you are active on.
Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn (yes, I count this one). Do we really need them all? Consider only using platforms that help you professionally or provide opportunities for personal growth. Yes, we all understand that these platforms can help you grow your brand, sell products, help you become a published author etc. but we also need to set limits for ourselves....b/c otherwise keeping up to date on them could be considered another full time job. And don't most of us already have those?!
2. Set boundaries for yourself (where, when, and how).
Assessing your current use is a good start and if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling first thing in the morning, in front of your kids, or while at work then it may be time to check yourself. Maybe you decide to put it away for certain hours of the day, remove it from the bedroom before bed, or commit to only using it when you are sitting on the train heading to work. Whatever you decide.....write these boundaries down, post them somewhere, and tell your partner, friend, or roommate so they can keep you accountable.
3. Turn off push notifications
Do we really need to see the all of the comments and likes we are getting IN REAL TIME? Alerts (and yes even news alerts) on our phones are the number one distraction and are productivity TIME SUCKERS. Our brains are just not meant to multi-task as much as our modern world demands of us and constantly shifting our brains away from one task to look at our phones and then back again can have a dizzying effect. And if you are working on being more present with your kids or in your job, then definitely consider turning them off. Even if it's just for a day to see how it feels!
4. Unfollow accounts that don't make you feel good
Do you have distant friends that you follow that leave you with an icky feeling after scrolling through their posts, or are there news sites/articles that you end up getting sucked into that just don't help your mental health. Take stock of how you feel after spending time on social media, and try writing down any emotions that come up afterwards. Are you distracted because you are thinking about something you just read, do you feel unsettled, or irritated with people around? If so it's probably time to unfollow certain people/sites and try finding all the positive handles out there. I love @goodnewsmovement as a starter!
5. Limit brainless scrolling and commit to adding positive comments only
At the end of a long day do you find yourself aimlessly scrolling and barely stoping to read or watch because your brain is tired? The Psychology of Your Scrolling Addiction by Harvard Business Review is a great read and explains how we can sucked into the rabbit hole of watching video after video or reading post after post. Research also suggests that if you choose to be active on social media that engaging (vs passively scrolling) in a positive manner is a healthier way to use these platforms.
And if you find yourself struggling emotionally or are experiencing any signs of anxiety, depression, or are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. This online screening tool is a great way to start!