Let’s put this out front: Social media is an incredibly powerful and influential tool for connecting with peers to maintain friendships, sell products, stay informed and perform other tasks. However, social media can also be dangerous to users — physically, emotionally, mentally and digitally. Fortunately, by knowing about the threats social media poses, you can more successfully navigate digital networks and come out on top.
Here are a few ways social media could be debilitating you — without you knowing it — so you can take proactive steps to using social media wisely.
Just a couple weeks ago, a woman in China went to the hospital with her hand stuck in a grotesque, claw-like position. She had taken a week-long vacation from work, only to spend every waking hour scrolling through social media on her smartphone. In response, the muscles in her arm and wrist seized up, and she required medical intervention to regain normal function in her digits.
This story isn’t unique; millions of people around the world complain of aches and pains due to excessive social media use. In fact, the afflictions are so widespread that many of them have their own names: tech neck, texting thumb, email eye, etc. Though it is important to check into social media to maintain high rates of engagement, you shouldn’t be risking your physical comfort for the sake of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Depression and Anxiety
Rates of depression and anxiety are increasing, and many experts believe social media is to blame. Though most social media networks were designed to bring people together, research shows that spending large amounts of time on these sites is making people feel alone and uncared-for. This is likely because social media shows the activity of other people’s lives — truthfully or otherwise. Thus, social media users make unfavorable comparisons between their relatively uneventful lives and those glamorous, exciting and busy lives they see online.
Spending less time on social media and more time interacting with friends and loved ones is a good step toward preventing depression and anxiety. However, you should also be wary of participating in certain behaviors when you do log in to social sites. Try to take and post more pictures of yourself with friends as opposed to selfies, and unfollow and unsubscribe from accounts that make you feel envious or insecure.
If you use social media primarily for your business, you probably spend most of your time online during the day. However, like other people, you probably succumb to the allure of Facebook and Instagram late at night, to “turn off your brain” before you go to sleep.
This is a bad idea for several reasons. First, the blue light from your phone simulates daylight, prompting your brain and body to stay awake. Secondly, the mental engagement required by social media might not feel like much, but it is stimulating your senses enough to disrupt your sleep patterns. Insufficient sleep seriously impacts your health, reducing your immunity, reducing nutrient absorption and generally making you feel awful. Therefore, you should limit your social media time to the daylight hours and get a full rest at night.
Across the globe, there are more than 2.62 billion social media users — which makes social media a ripe hunting ground for cybercriminals. CNET recently determined that roughly 20 percent of links shared on Facebook will open viruses, and another study found that 60 percent of all cyber attacks came from notifications sent through social media messages. If you take one misstep on social media, you could wreck your device — or your entire network — with malware.
Unfortunately, there is little you can do to scourge the web of this menace. Your best tactic is a good defense: Install a max security antivirus tool on all your endpoints, so you can recognize threats before you click and banish malware already lurking. You should also practice good cyber hygiene by crafting strong passwords, avoiding messages from users you don’t know and investigating links and attachments before you click.
You might jokingly say that you are addicted to social media, but for thousands of users, addiction is their reality. Though rates of true social media addiction remain relatively low — especially compared to chemically addictive substances like alcohol and opiates — those who suffer social media addiction do experience noteworthy, negative effects. Relationships and careers can suffer, health can decline and all the other dangerous on this list are experienced exponentially.
Social media is a powerful tool, and like all powerful tools, it can have negative effects when used improperly. You need to be aware of how social media can adversely effect your life (and your business) so you can avoid suffering at the hands of your favorite hobby.