BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|
Recently, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle “visited a youth group near their home in California to hear about the pressures young people face. They spent an hour having a conversation with the teens aged 14 to 18 about how mental wellbeing is affected by social pressures and social media in the digital age  ”. This is an issue that not only affects adolescents but all those who have access to social media. How can we deal with this pressure?
According to McLean Hospital’s psychologist, Jacqueline Sperling, PhD, “even if you remove the likes there continue to be opportunities for comparisons and feedback. People still can compare themselves to others, and people still can post comments.” Additionally, Mass General Brigham McLean affirms that, “social media has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” linked to pleasurable activities such as sex, food, and social interaction. The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments  .”
This was reinforced by the Archewell Foundation, “social media can be a force for good and positivity in connecting people, but also “raises issues of insecurity, peer-pressure, and potential for self-harm, among other risks” .
On the other hand, Lancaster General Health gives us some important warning signs to be self-aware about the use of social media  :
- Feeling increased anxiety, depression and/or loneliness
- Spending more time on social media than with friends and family
- Comparing yourself with others or frequently feeling jealous
- Being trolled or cyberbullied online
- Engaging in risky behaviors or outrageous photos to gain likes and comments
- Noticing that your schoolwork and relationships are suffering
- De-prioritizing self-care (such as exercise, sleep, and mindfulness)
It is important to highlight that social media may promote negative experiences such as: Inadequacy about your life or appearance; fear of missing out (FOMO) and social media addition; isolation; depression and anxiety; cyberbullying and self-absorption  . “According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S. use social media. This puts a large amount of the population at an increased risk of feeling anxious, depressed, or ill over their social media use  .”
That is why the Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends some ways to protect our mental health on social media  : Take stock of how your feeds make you feel; understand what is happening in your brain; try not to compare; put some usage boundaries in place; get strict about curation; and start over (or step away entirely).
In conclusion, as Prince Harry states, “I also make sure to talk to people, directly, one on one, about what they are going through, and try to learn from their experiences and understanding of the world  .” Please, remember that you are not alone, that using social media in the best ways, while avoiding becoming an addict, will enable you to take care of your mental health.