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Put That Phone Down (After You’ve Read This Article)

A new study links excessive social media use to internalizing behaviour development.


Life has never been as pretty and expensive before. With social media at our fingertips, FOMO has never been this real and the lack of all things shiny and pretty in our life has never been rubbed into our faces as much as it is now. We’ve started comparing our life, looks and well, everything that can be compared really, to all the picture-perfect looking IG models that overflood our feeds on a daily basis. And although we all know that no one would post a selfie of them having a mental breakdown at 3 am because of exhaustion, stress and a bit too much Red Bull and/or coffee before their final exams, we still take Instagram profiles way too literally. 

In fact, a recent study, led at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that teenagers who spent more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to suffer from what they called “internalizing behaviors”, aka social anxiety and feelings of loneliness. According to Kira Riehm, lead author of this study, “social media has the ability to connect adolescents who may be excluded in their daily life.” She continued by saying that, “we need to find a better way to balance the benefits of social media with possible negative health outcomes.” 

Obviously, we’d all love to have flawless skin and a tanned and toned body, while travelling with our special someone around the globe and posting pictures of our perfectly balanced diet and breathtaking sunsets. In reality, most of us are more likely to be found in McDonald’s at midnight, eating Cheese Bites with our best friend while we’re complaining about uni/work, boys and the unflattering state of our bank account. 

And that’s the whole problem really. We’re so quick to jump to conclusions about other people and wishing to trade our life for theirs, that we don’t even consider the fact that everyone’s got their little baggage to carry.

One of the biggest problems in nowadays society has to be our love for innovation and our persistent pursuit of unachievable perfection. The reason I call that a problem is because human beings are flawed by nature, and no matter if you’re one of those unbearable optimists or constantly eye-rolling pessimists, it would be delusional to believe that perfection is a realistic goal for anyone. 

Social media was initially created to connect people and make human interaction easier, quicker, and more enjoyable. Instead, it’s become this platform for us to create a utopic life that we measure ourselves by. We’re so focused on comparing raw glimpses of our real life with other people’s perfectly edited versions on social media, that we’ve lost sight of what really matters: human connection.

Riehm was talking about hitting that perfect balance between social media intake and good mental health, remember? How exactly would we go about it, you ask? Well, let’s start with the basics. Put your phone down and appreciate real-time moments. Limit your daily social media intake (pssst… iPhones have built-in timers for specific apps that you can activate in your settings). And when you find yourself scrolling through your feed, always remember that no one’s life is exclusively made up of fashionable clothes, sunset chasing and infinity pools. After all, we all need a good Cheese Bite and gossip session with our friends from time to time!


Next Up, 10 Ways To Makeover Your Life