Following the spreading overconsumption of social networks, new pathologies have appeared, so that several scientific studies are now focusing on the negative – or even toxic- effects of those networks. It is no wonder then that new “digital detox” businesses are flourishing everywhere, with the aim to help “social addicts” to get rid of social networks.
Here are some of the scientifically observed consequences of an excessive exposure to social media:
1) People affected by depression tend to post more on Instagram
The frequency of your social posts can be considered as a mental health indicator. In fact, thanks to a computer program, some researchers from Harvard have analyzed more than 40000 Instagram messages posted by 166 users in order to understand how people affected by depression use the app. In the end, they discovered that, indeed, people affected by depression tend to post more contents than those who are not.
2) Spending too much time on social networks makes people unhappy
You should put some limits to fully appreciate social networks’ experience. There is a “breaking point” for each platform. In other words, after a certain amount of time, you don’t enjoy relaxing on the networks anymore. For example, the breaking point is after 23 minutes for Facebook, while it is after 31 minutes for Instagram.
3) Your memories will be distorted
When you post something, you want to express positive images such as nice pictures or beautiful moments; in brief, you always tend to show only the best. Since those networks are increasingly being used as storage spaces, a study now aims at proving that this may lead to a distortion of memories. You may risk concealing reality and your real feelings, losing your critical mind.
4) Social networks foster loneliness
In the USA, social isolation is an illness that afflicts as many people as obesity. Despite the fact that social networks should bring people closer connecting them all, sometimes they have the opposite effect. A study has shown that people who spend more than two hours per day on the social networks have twice more chances to feel lonely.
5) Having a ton of friends is not making you more sociable
Having thousands of followers on Instagram or Facebook does not mean that you have a large group of friends, quite the opposite. In fact, there is even a limit to the number of friends that human brain can handle. Virtual friends are not real friends. Solid relationships can be built only through real-life social interactions.
6) Posting much about your partner reveals a lack of self-esteem
Updating Facebook’s relationship status can be very revealing. After collecting data from 600 users, researchers have shown that people with a low self-esteem are more likely to post contents about their partner, while people identified as narcissistic like posting more about their diet, workout or covered kilometres…
7) A simple glance at Facebook’s logo may trigger an addiction
Just looking at Facebook’s blue logo may trigger your craving. Exactly like subliminal messages in advertising urge people to use a certain product, social networks may lead to a real addiction. Even more distressing is the fact that this addiction can affect everybody, regular and occasional users.
8) Your sleep will play tricks on you
Being constantly harassed by notifications affects the quality of sleep. Nowadays having a good night of sleep is becoming increasingly difficult. One in five teenagers regularly wakes up during the night to use social networks. Similarly, 1788 American adults filled out a questionnaire about their sleeping habits and their online behaviour, revealing that people mentioning sleeping problems for the most part obsessively use social networks.
9) A different personality for each social network
When people use Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter, their way of communicating, messages and behaviour is completely different. This is because each platform is considered as a separate world ruled by its own codes, and people tend to adapt to them.
10) Under-25s smile less in photographs
Under-25s tend to smile less in photographs, maybe because they want to look great or just because it is a difficult stage of life anyway. Another interesting fact is that under-25 women prefer wearing trendy fake glasses rather than corrective ones.
11) Emotions on Facebook are highly contagious
When you post a very happy or very sad content, those feelings of happiness or unhappiness may heavily hit your friends. Moreover, on social networks, it is easier to lose temper and express opinions without restraint than in real life. In fact, when situations are dematerialized people tend to overreact, while in real life they would probably be more moderate.
12) The rush to Likes is not making you happier
Receiving many Likes by followers boosts your ego. Actually, some studies have revealed that this rush to get more Likes does not necessarily improve your mood. In fact, this may even worsen narcissism and lead to dangerous repercussions. For example, if one day you don’t get to receive your average amount of Likes, you may feel depressed or lonely.
13) FoodPorn trend on Instagram may help to lose weight
If you are struggling to lose some weight, try to post your favourite food. You may think that this will just worsen your craving and make you fatter, but actually according to a study people who post their favourite recipes or food are more likely to eat healthily and lose weight.
14) Selfies are not only a sign of narcissism
Despite the fact that selfies are widely considered as a display of the ego, they are not just this. Some researchers claim that they can be classified in three groups: the communicators, the autobiographers and the advertisers. Communicators post selfies to start conversations with their community or friends. Autobiographers want to share pieces of their life, providing photographic evidence of some unforgettable events in order to better remember them. Finally, advertisers or self-advertisers share every moment of their life, they want to outdo everyone else showing themselves only at their best. In fact, they are more likely to be depressed.
After reading these 14 scientific points, you may rethink using social networks too much. In short, since social networks are very similar to drugs, they should be handled carefully. As for all good things in life, we should not overindulge.