Facebook has 185 million users in the United States in Canada, and growth in those places is slowing for the social media giant — because, analysts say, there aren’t many potential users left who don’t already have an account. A full 68% of Americans visit Facebook regularly, and the majority of users visit Facebook more than once a day. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are also massively popular.
Americans and others are living their lives online, but this may not be a good thing. Social media affects our mental health, often negatively. It’s addictive, which is probably why so many users visit their social media sites more than once a day. Since we all strive to represent ourselves as happy and healthy on social media, using social media often can cause us to view others are happier than they are — which, in turn, makes us feel worse, according to a study that linked Facebook use and depression. Social media is unhealthy — or, at least, too many of are using social media in unhealthy ways. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Here are a few ways to make social media healthier.
You won’t explode if you don’t visit your social media sites multiple times a day. In fact, you’ll actually feel better. Social media is not all-or-nothing when it comes to mental health, and studies have linked more hours of use to more problems. Reduce the hours, and you’ll reduce the problems. This is great news, because it means that you can still use Facebook to arrange parties or Twitter to check headlines while also being able to enjoy a happier and healthier life by simply logging in less often.
Since social media is addicting, you’ll want to set limits and create concrete goals. Don’t trust yourself to minimize social media time without firm guidelines!
Use social media for real-life purposes
Social media isn’t good for us, but real-life socializing is. Seeing Instagram photos fly by on your timeline is unhealthy (in fact, Instagram is the least healthy social media platform), but art is good for us. So what does this mean? It means that we need to get the good stuff out of social media.
That means using social media to create real-life joy. Your friends are on Facebook, but don’t communicate with them only through the app. Instead, use Facebook’s groups and events to organize real-life get-togethers. Don’t gaze jealousy at Instagram photos all day; instead, take that beautiful art into the real world. You can create high quality Instagram canvas prints with a few clicks of your mouse thanks to modern printing and design companies. An elegant canvas print makes a great wall hanging, and the quality canvas is a great antidote to the transient nature of social media. Art and photographs weren’t meant to be scrolled past and bothered by. They were meant to hang in places of honor and be enjoyed at a slower pace. The sense of permanence that a canvas print communicates is far healthier than what social media offers.
Create, don’t consume
Social media is for sharing, but many of us have become an audience. When we watch other people’s lives through their social media profiles, we overrate their accomplishments and their happiness, which is unhealthy practice. We should be using other people’s posts for inspiration, not comparing those people to ourselves.
Think before you post, of course, but do post. Create things yourself! Share your art and your ideas. Create blogs and videos, or photograph things you love to do. The bull’s eye you hit in archery, the cake you baked for a friend, or the sketch you did in a notebook. Social media is at its best when it connects people and shares passions, and you will be happier when the sharing is mutual. It’s healthier to offer the best of ourselves than it is to look at the best of others in quiet jealousy.
It’s hard to live without social media these days, but you don’t have to. By sharing your passions, setting smart limits, and using social media for real-life socializing and more concrete purposes, you can make social media healthier.