Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Lucy Brown
Features Writer
12:00 AM 13th May 2024

Managing Mental Health And The Impact Of Social Media

Image: spusu
Image: spusu
A 2024 report from Internet Matters found that 63 per cent of parents believe time online negatively impacts their children's health. Increased anxiety, depression and cyberbullying are becoming commonplace among younger generations who now have constant access to social media at their fingertips.

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, SIM-only mobile provider spusu, shares advice on ways to manage the negative impact of social media.

Social media and its impact

There’s no denying what’s possible thanks to the internet and the many benefits it has to society. But it can also have some really serious consequences — with cyberbullying, mental health issues, addictive behaviours, unhealthy comparisons and poor sleep all reported as downsides.

As the report from Internet Matters found, the impact of social media on young people’s health is a cause for concern. The age of those using smartphones and accessing social media is getting younger. Ofcom research has found that almost 25 per cent of five-to-seven-year olds in the UK have their own smartphone. As the reliance on social media grows among young people, so does the risk of negative impact.

Mental health boosting apps

If social media becomes too much, mental health boosting apps can help. Apps such as Calm are designed to improve mental health based on three key goals: stress less, sleep more and live mindfully. With over four million users, Calm applies meditation as a method of supporting sleep, and even has helpful features including sleep stories, various sleep sounds and specialised sleep music to support relaxation and encourage a better night’s sleep. After all, quality sleep is crucial for maintaining good mental health.

Another example is MyPossibleSelf, which is approved by the NHS and uses interactive tools and techniques, backed by cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It creates a personalised self-help experience specific to the user’s targets, whether that’s managing anxiety, learning to tackle depression or reducing stress.

Time to detox

Practising a ‘digital detox’ from time to time can also help alleviate the negative effects of social media. A detox encourages regular intervals of time away from social media to be present in real-world activities and engage in human interaction, without the pressure of social media. Specifically, this could include deleting social media apps, or deactivating your profiles on them, and even scheduling times when you allow yourself to use the applications.

If a detox isn’t on the cards, there are other helpful tricks to try. Many smartphones have device-locking features and time limit reminders. This means you can completely restrict access to a specific app. Alternatively, you can set up time reminders for apps, which will suggest closing the app down if time has exceeded more than an hour of your day, for example.

Unfollowing specific pages, people or hashtags that may cause anxiety, or exacerbate your negative feelings, is another way to limit the impact of social media. Instead, follow and engage with posts that you’re interested in, things you’re passionate about or those that evoke positive emotions.

The constant flow of information and social demands that come with the digital age can be hard on young people. This can make navigating the feelings around social media difficult. However, there are ways to minimise the negative impact. Digital detoxing, wellbeing and mental health boosting apps, and implementing time restrictions can help ensure more control over social media consumption and relieve the pressures that come as a result.