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Many of us spend hours a day in front of a screen. Shouldn’t it be joyful?
Unfortunately, it isn’t always so easy. Prolonged screen time disrupts sleep and gives us a big hit of dopamine, often called the “feel-good” neurotransmitter – so much of it that if you go overboard, your body could compensate by making less of your own. Scrolling through social media can add the harmful impacts of comparison, unrealistic standards and the spread of misinformation, said Wendy Rice, a psychologist based in Tampa, Florida.
“Any time you bring groups of people together, there’s opportunities for people to directly harm each other’s mental health by how they treat each other, for people to compare themselves to others in a way that affects their self esteem, and for people to share tips and information that’s misguided, even if they don’t intend to,” Dr. Neha Chaudhary, a child and adolescent psychiatrist on faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in an email.
However, some corners of the internet are looking to help with content meant to make your life better.
Experts say with a discerning eye and a healthy strategy, there are different types of accounts you can follow to make your social media life happier.
Social media use has been linked to depression and anxiety, but some professionals are using the space to spread information that aims to improve viewers’ mental well-being.
Every week, Kirk Honda, a Seattle-based therapist and adjunct professor at Antioch University, puts out hours of content on YouTube.
Some videos are a deep dive on a psychological topic, while others are reactions to popular media from the lens of a therapist, but all of it is made intended to make the world a better place, Honda said.
“There are some fairly simple ideas about attachment and relationships and personality and schemas that I can explain … that have changed my life, my client’s life, my students’ lives and my followers’ lives,” Honda said.
The information psychologists have can be shared to help those who need it, but unfortunately not everyone online is sharing accurate information.
“According to some research and anecdotal experience, a majority of the information about psychology online is dubious at best and harmful at worst,” he said, citing people sharing debunked claims about how to manipulate others or dramatic – often baseless – videos about how to sniff out a narcissist.
Information from laypeople sharing their personal experience with a mental illness can help spread awareness, reduce stigma and make people feel like they are not alone, but creators should include the caveat that they are sharing their personal experience, Rice said.
Many of the concepts and diagnoses are too complex to be boiled down accurately and comprehensively into a 15-second video, she added.
People who have questions about the mental health content shared online should consult a professional therapist to get more nuanced and in-depth information, Rice and Honda suggested.
Taking the filter off health
Hashtag fitspo. What I eat in a day. Weight-loss journey.
Social media is littered with content that can add to body shame – and sometimes even contribute to unhealthy behaviors to achieve a certain image.
Some dietitians are reclaiming a corner of the social media world to give audiences more holistic, healthy messages. One of those is TikTok creator and dietitian Steph Grasso.