In a recent Discovery News report, the impact of social media on our happiness and sense of well being in community was studied, and is still not completely understood. According to the report a study indicated that unlike off line relationships, news feeds from Facebook tend to inspire gloomy emotions and the more time spent on Facebook the more depressed the state of mind.
Experts in this report recommend that folks be mindful of how much time they spend on social media and how they are feeling.
Erin Ambrose is a marriage and family therapist and psychology instructor at William Jessup University in Rocklin. “I find it quite common with my clients, youth and adults alike, to have emotional struggles attached to Facebook,” she said. “For many people social networking sites can provide too much information to process emotionally without an adequate framework. When we see a photo or read someone's post, status update, etc. we are only getting a small snippet of information but usually not the context. This leaves a lot to the imagination. For some people this can lead to unhealthy comparisons, jealousy, feelings of insecurity, and/or sadness.”
And while Ambrose cautions that not everyone reacts the same way to social media news feeds, she urges a balancing act. “Watching the social events of others via Facebook or Instagram without balancing the opportunity to interact in personal ways can result in feelings of isolation and actually cause someone to retreat even further,” she said.
Ambrose’s reminders for parents
- Set limits on the amount of time a child is allowed to spend on social media (Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, kik, and Facebook).
- It is also a good idea to watch for signs of emotional distress when a child has been interacting on social media to see it changes need to be made.
- Parents would be wise to set limits for themselves as well. “I have had several adult clients who discovered that Facebook was not good for their mental health and chose to take a hiatus. This is also good modeling for our youth. I think parents should open up conversations with their children about social media and talk over the benefits and potential risks of living life in a fishbowl,” Ambrose said.
- Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Network Culture
- The Authority In Me (reclaiming personal power in the social network)
- Erin Ambrose
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