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Social Media: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

In 2020, worldwide, around 3.6 billion people were using social media. The average screen time is 144 minutes per day, with the exception of Latin America which had a higher average. The most famous platform is Facebook with over 1 billion registered accounts. The number of social media users in the world is expected to rise to 4.41 billion in 2025. How and where we choose to spend our time is becoming more and more important.

In 2017, the Young Health Movement interviewed 1,479 young people aged 14-24 to understand the feelings that the use of social media brought them. In the study, they found many positive aspects, such as building a community and getting information, but also found that social media make you feel more anxious and it affects your sleep. Just over 90% of the interviewed uses social media.

Included on the list of positive emotions there are the following: maintaining and building relationships; self-expression; peer support; and access to information. On the other side are the negative emotions: FoMo (fear of missing out); cyberbullying; body image issues; sleep issues; depression and anxiety.

Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

They asked the interviewees to rate statements – such as feelings of being on your own – on a scale of -2 for worse, 0 for no effect, and +2 for better. They analysed the following social media outlets: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and youtube. Only one of them score higher on positive feelings.

Youtube is the big winner in the competition. It did well when it comes to health awareness; self-expression; community building and more. The downside of youtube is that it messes up with sleep. And the big loser is Instagram, which scored very high on body image issues; sleep issues; FoMo; bullying; and anxiety. However, it performed well as a platform for self-expression and identity.

At the end of the report, they call for changes on these platforms and in education. They propose warnings of heavy usage of social media; also to highlight photos that have been doctored; and one of the most interesting suggestions is to teach safe use of social media in school, for children. That would include bullying discussions and how to look for help when needed.

It seems like we have to learn to live well with these tools because they are very helpful and they’re here to stay. Tristan Harris, former Google Prodigy has tips on how to take control of apps and not let them control you. A very important tip is to turn off notifications from your phone, so you don’t feel like you must answer straight away, you are free to choose when to check your social media.

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

Another suggestion is to download helpful tools, such as an app that monitors your screen time and allows you to block usage in certain hours. It gives you a breakdown of how many hours you are spending in each app and the results can be eye opening for many. A few helpful apps are listed below:

  1. Forest: this is an app to help you focus on your work and ignore the noise from the world. You set a time you would like to work and stay focused, for example, 25 minutes. Then a tree starts growing, and you can grow your own forest.
  1. Headspace: a meditation app designed for beginners and advanced meditators. It helps with focus, getting good sleep, relaxing, and more. A few minutes of meditation a day could make a difference.
  1. StayFree: Breaks down exactly how many hours and minutes you spent in apps. It’s free for Android phones. If you have an iPhone, it comes with its own monitor app. It’s easy to use and it has graphs to help you see the amount of time you’re giving to each app.

Written By: Amanda Rodrigues

Some mobile phones provide insight/ analytics into the users usage habits depending on the model and operating system, which will provide you with the relevant information to complete the below poll.

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