While social media can be a source of entertainment and a way to connect with family and friends, excessive use can negatively affect oneʼs emotions and thoughts.

Some people may use social media to cope with negative emotions; for example, distracting themselves when they are feeling down or bored.

In children and adolescents, this may impair their abilities to come up with other coping skills. For people with social anxiety, depending on social media can perpetuate their feelings of isolation, inadequacy and dissatisfaction, which can in turn affect mood and worsen symptoms.

To know if your social media habits are healthy, examine its impact on your life and motivations for using it. Social media use becomes unhealthy when you start to neglect face-to-face relationships or get distracted from work or school. If you are chasing 'likes' or posting only to make others envious, it may be time to rethink your social media habits.

   

Good social media habits start from young

“For the young, social media is an important part of their lifestyle. It helps them to express themselves and gain peer approval. The videos, jokes and messages they post online also help shape their identity and self-image,” shares Dr Victor Kwok, Senior Consultant and Head of Department of Psychiatry at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

To cultivate healthy online habits in the young:

Set ground rules on social media or phone use, such as “no phones at the dinner table” or “no phones after 9pm”.

Occasionally screen what they are consuming online to make sure they are age-appropriate. For example, shield young children from scary news and explain negative news as accurately as you can.

Encourage more face-to-face interaction and other forms of offline interests such as sports.

       

Assure your child they can reach out to a trusted adult if they experience difficult situations online or cyberbullying.

Tips to use social media more positively and responsibly

1. Take a break

Set a limit on your social media use, or take a social media ‘break’. Try removing all social media apps on your phone for a period of time. This may initially cause some withdrawal anxiety, but you may end up discovering a whole new ‘you’, one who is more attuned to and guided by the values important to you!

2. Consider your purpose

Reflect on your motivations when using social media. If you are using it as a substitute for real life, consider a healthier alternative, like inviting a friend out for coffee or picking up a new hobby.

3. Find a healthy balance

If negative news overwhelms you, use social media in a way that is less emotionally challenging – follow celebrities for entertainment or watch funny videos of cute cats and dogs!

This article was adapted from Skoop magazine (issue 7).

 

FACEBOOK LIVE TALK: Join us for the 'Think Happy, Live Healthy' Facebook Live Talk, organised by Sengkang West CCC and Sengkang General Hospital, on 24 Oct 2020 (Sat), 10am. No fees or registration required, simply tune in to the Sengkang West Facebook page or Sengkang General Hospital's Facebook page at that time to take part.

  

Ref: L20

Check out other articles on mental health:

Anxiety and Depression: When to Seek Help

How to Manage Anxiety and Depression

Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Depression or Sadness: How to Tell the Difference

8 Ways to Beat Stress at Work

10 Tips for Mental Wellness

20 Stress-Busting Tips from Psychiatrists

How to Better Manage Emotions at Work

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