Social Media Today – What’s Your Online Health Like?

Remember 10 years ago when there was literally no such thing as ‘social media’?

When Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, iPads, and touch phones didn’t exist.  We simply relied on emails, chat rooms, and texting as a means of using technology to communicate.  Things have changed drastically since then.

We’re tweeting, ‘liking’, sharing, hash tagging, commenting, and updating every day as though it’s going out of fashion.

It almost feels as though there is just too much technology around us sometimes, doesn’t it?

How good is social media today for our health?

Now, as good as social media is for businesses and companies today in terms of marketing and advertising, it can also have a few negative effects.

Do you find yourself checking your phone for updates on Facebook or Twitter just before you go to bed? What about when you wake up in the morning?

We’re living in a modern day society where our worlds literally revolve around updating statuses, checking for ‘likes’, sending unnecessary emails instead of walking up to someone in the office, and tweeting whatever comes to mind.

6 Negative impacts of social media today:

  1. Isolation. Personal interaction between colleagues, friends, and even family can become limited or non-existent.
  2. False perceptions. You may be perceived as vain, arrogant, fake, self-hating, or emotionally unstable, depending on the types of updates you post on a regular basis.
  3. Your productivity at work or at school may suffer as a result of constant updates and checks.
  4. Your safety may be compromised by sharing too much personal information, especially when indicating that you are not at home, or at a specific place by “checking in” on Facebook or using applications such as Foursquare on Twitter.
  5. Cyber-bullying. This is one more type of bullying that teenagers are especially prone to online, which can lead to depression, and other serious effects.
  6. Addiction. Can you go a day without checking your social media accounts? (That is, if you’re not using them solely for business purposes?)

Replacing real life with technology

Instead of speaking to our friends or family directly and telling them what’s bothering us, we vent.  We blurt it out all over our Facebook or Twitter stream for everyone to see:

social media today“Don’t bother speaking to me for a while. You know what you did and who you are!”

“I’m so upset right now I could cry. #familydrama #sad”

There seem to be far less boundaries these days in terms of what we share in the virtual world. It’s become much too easy to vent, accuse, discriminate against, judge, assume, embarrass, or air our dirty laundry online.

Privacy is a word many of us seldom think about when it comes to using these social media platforms as a means to express ourselves.

Social media addiction

Social networks might be as addictive as a cigarette or alcohol.  This was a finding based on a study published recently in the journal of Psychological Studies.

A study from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HUST) warn against social media addiction. According to their findings, social media can affect our lives in the following ways:

  • Increase stress levels
  • Interfere with sleep patterns
  • Degrade meaningful personal relationships
  • Ruin health

They further went on to say that based on their study in which they banned 800 students from using social media for a week, the results were shocking.

They found that social media addiction is much like drug, cigarette, or alcohol addiction. Students were often found sneaking away to their smartphones to check on updates. Some of these students even spent up to 21 hours connected to their Facebook and other accounts, allowing for only a few hours of sleep, and no time for face-to-face interaction with friends or family at all.

The results of this experiment were eye-opening in terms of how our health and relationships can suffer from too much technology –  especially on these social platforms.

How you can help your social media health

  • social media today2Limit your time on all social media sites to an hour a day maximum. Check them before work, over lunch, or after work.
  • If you run a business and make use of these platforms for advertising purposes, try using scheduled posts on your Facebook page and on Twitter. You can plan all of these ahead of time in the morning, the day before, or even a week or more before you want to post.
  • Break away from social media over the weekends as much as possible, and physically interact with family and friends, or spend quality time alone catching up on long forgotten hobbies – such as painting, cooking, running, or even simply listening to music.
  • Move computers out of children’s or teenager’s bedrooms and into common rooms in the house.
  • Set time limits to these computers, and take an interest in what your children are participating in.
  • Turn off your notifications for updates, or comments.

Take the test

If you’re still not sure that your health or relationships are suffering as a result of your need to constantly be on social media today, or if you’re not sure if you’re addicted, give this a try:

Switch off from all social media applications for a few days to a week.

What do you think your online health is currently like?

View Results

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Image credits: fotographic1980, Kittisak, Stuart Miles – freedigitalphotos.net

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