Student Comms Ambassador Sophie Gonzalez shares tips on how to develop a healthy relationship with social media.
Protecting ourselves on social media
Social media is an integrated part of our lives; we wake up to notifications, scroll through our feed whenever we’ve got the chance and stay connected to our friends by sharing little pieces of our day. Social media is a crucial way to keep in touch with our loved ones and society – especially so, this year. In 2019, the average daily time on social media worldwide amounted to 2.4 hours! This just shows how important it has become as part of our daily routine. With all this time spent scrolling and witnessing other people’s lives, there may be some negative and sometimes harmful effects. Here are some tips to recognise them and practise healthy social media habits.
Recognising there’s something happening
Recognising and acknowledging that spending too much time looking at social media and other apps can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health is the first step! This can take many forms and might feel different for each of us, but it’s good to take a look at what spending time on social media makes you feel about yourself and others. You might find yourself feeling more anxious, lonely or in a lower mood after spending time scrolling, or maybe you compare yourself and your life in an unrealistic and unhealthy way to the things you see? Another clue might be how much time you spend on social media every day, and the reasons why you invest so much time in doing this (beware of FOMO!).
Some of the things you can do to protect yourself
Once you start to understand the impact social media has on you, it’s time to make some changes! Here are a few things you can do to create a healthier relationship with social media:
1. Take time off
Whether it’s a complete detox for a couple of days or weeks, spending just one day off per week (Sunday?) or setting yourself a daily time limit, it might be good to create some distance from everything you see on these platforms and reconnect with offline activities. Why not go back to an old hobby or try a new one? Go for a walk with some music on? Play boardgames with your household or get absorbed in a book?
2. Take control
It’s easy to forget that we can actually control what we see on these platforms. It’s quick and efficient to just unfollow accounts that have a negative impact on your mental health, you don’t have to see them constantly! You also usually have the option to block keywords or hashtags that may be of harm to you so that they don’t appear in your feed.
3. Be wise
We should all try to take a little bit of responsibility in our usage of social media and be wise about it. Choose carefully the ‘influencer’ that you follow because they might subtly impact your behaviour, and most of us only want to see content that brightens our day or positively influences us. A good thing to do is to only follow accounts and people that inspire you and help you in your growth, instead of accounts that make you engage in negative comparison. Why not go through and clear out your following?
I’ve spoken a lot about our personal use of social media to better our mental health, but another important issue to mention is cyberbullying – this is any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones and tablets. Online bullying behaviours may include threats, sexual harassment, hate speech and much more, all of which are punishable by law. They may result in harm to the victim’s wellbeing and life.
If you or another student you know is experiencing cyberbullying, please get in touch with the University’s Student Wellbeing Services and seek help. Another option available for you or someone you know within the Bath Spa community who may be experiencing cyberbullying, is to use the Report + Support platform which allows you to report anonymously and get support from an advisor.
I hope that by following some of these tips you will find that the time you spend on social media is more inspiring and uplifting. It’s not all cons – social media is an amazing tool to connect with people from all over the world and be part of a community! These platforms are full of potential to share your ideas, interests and to feel more empowered, it’s just sensible to know how to use them safely and healthily.
Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.
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