Mayo people encouraged to reduce their social media usage over Christmas
Turn2Me, a national mental health charity, is encouraging people to reduce their social media use over Christmas.
The charity said comparisons to the perfect “Instagram” Christmas could lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointment. Turn2Me emphasized that social media can be very harmful to our mental health and that deleting the apps from our phones, deleting social media accounts or reducing the amount of time we spend on social media can have mental health benefits.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly seven out of ten Americans use social media. A British 2015 study called The Children’s Well-being 2015 publication found that ‘Children who used social networking sites for more than three hours on a school day were twice as likely to have high or very high scores for mental illness to report.’ The 2016 Journal of Adolescence found that ‘Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem’.
“The research is clear: social media can be very detrimental to our mental health,” said Fiona O’Malley, chief executive of Turn2Me: “What we see on Instagram is a very filtered and edited version of people’s lives. People don’t put the hard, mundane, or boring parts of their lives on social media because it’s not that interesting, and people don’t want to air their dirty laundry in public.So, when we compare our own reality to the apparent perfect “Instagram” lives, it’s an unfair comparison because it compares your life to the edited glimpse of someone else’s life.
“Christmas can heighten this imbalanced equation and make people feel even more dissatisfied with their own lives, because there are moments of celebration at Christmastime for so many – people get engaged, move into their new dream homes, announce pregnancies, get or gift luxury gifts, and capture precious moments with close family members. This is not the reality. Most people have at least one dysfunctional or harmful relationship in their family, most people won’t mark the Christmas season with a life-changing festive event, and especially with the rising cost of living, most people won’t get or give extravagant luxury gifts.
“It’s important not to compare your own life to the lives you see on social media, because that’s an unfair comparison – it’s like comparing your reality to what you see in an ad. It’s not really not and that type of comparison can be really harmful to our mental health.”
Turn2Me is encouraging anyone feeling anxious, depressed or lonely over the Christmas period to sign up for their free mental health services on Turn2Me.ie
“Social media has some advantages but it has major disadvantages,” said Suzanne Ennis, clinical manager at Turn2Me: “Social media can be addictive, like a slot machine, when you open the app you see fresh content, which gives a feeling. of reward and the body releases dopamine, which associates it as a pleasurable activity. When someone doesn’t get the interaction they want on posted content, they can feel disappointed or invalidated. This can be a world of social comparison, distraction from other tasks, which in turn causes low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. It is crucial that time spent on social media is limited and other non-screen-related activities are prioritized.”
Turn2Me is running free ‘Christmas Blues’ support groups from 25 December to 1 January, available on the Turn2Me website. Anyone wishing to use Turn2Me’s free, professional mental health services over the Christmas period can sign up at Turn2Me.ie