[STAFF EDITORIAL] Social Media can be used as a constructive tool to help mental health


Illistration by Kevin Chen

Recognizing how social media can affect your health can help you learn to properly use it

Social media has garnered a reputation, and it hasn’t been positive. From scandals involving privacy and user data to concerns over mental health, it’s no wonder there’s a consistent campaign against it. These efforts focus too much on getting rid of social media entirely, instead of on how users can reap the benefits while maintaining their mental and physical health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, around 97% of American teenagers between the age of 13-17 use social media, and there’s a reason so many do so. Social media is one of the most powerful tools for connecting with others, and it allows for the easy spread of information and entertainment. But the downsides cannot be ignored. Heavy use of social media correlates with decreasing mental health, ranging from depression, anxiety, and antisocial behavior, and may cause poorer quality sleep. With the coming spring break in mind, it’s important for people to reflect on how social media affects their health and how to improve usage if it affects their health negatively.

Shutting down social media entirely isn’t reasonable, but self-regulating social media can be helpful. Turning off notifications, placing devices further away from beds, and reducing time spent on screens improves sleep quality while also staying connected and entertained through social media.

However, when using social media, it is important to be intentional about it. For example, journalist Catherine Price uses the acronym W.W.W.: What for? Why now? What else? When using social media, what was the purpose? Why this moment? Was using social media necessary or helpful for a certain goal, or was it used to procrastinate or avoid properly managing negative feelings? And what else? Notice the opportunity cost. There is a limited number of minutes in the day, so time spent on social media could be allocated towards spending time with family or friends, going outside and getting fresh air, or studying for a few minutes to feel secure before a test.

When social media is used correctly, it can help improve your mental health. There are plenty of apps, such as meditation apps that can help relieve anxiety and stress. The apps can help guide you through meditation programs, and even focus on improving sleep. It is important to find and properly use these apps to help improve your mental health.

Social media is integral to modern life, it is important to be aware of both the downsides and upsides of its presence, for the sake of improving both physical and mental health. It is important to be aware of the effects social media can have, and therefore learn to better use it in a constructive way that will help improve physical and mental health.