Millions of people use social media, but not everyone is better off for it. The psychological studies (new ones are reported constantly) are not unanimous about whether social media are good for you or bad for you. It appears that some users are happier when they have access to social media, and some are unhappier. Some have been quite happy when they gave social media up.
A variety of factors are undoubtedly involved in the drawbacks or benefits of social media, and the verdict is based on the individual user’s behaviors and motives.
When considering whether social media are helping or hurting your life or that of a child, here are some questions to consider:
- Do you use social media to escape from work you should be doing, or do you use it as a social value in itself?
- Do you put up with abuse and abuse others, or do you demand respect from your contacts and treat them with respect as well?
- Do you use social media to get attention (narcissism) or to learn or share ideas?
- Are you desperate for approval because you have no confidence in yourself, or do you just want, at times, earned visibility for your virtues?
- Are you lonely and desperate for any friends you can get, no matter how mean or unpleasant, or do you try hard to connect with people who respect you, regardless of whether you are lonely?
- Do others set the whole agenda, or do you feel free to have a chance to talk about what is important to you personally?
- Do you want to dominate, or do you prefer to take turns?
- Do you trade insults or try to give reasons for your views?
- Are you using social media as a substitute for professional therapy, or do you seek professional help, when needed, from a trained professional who can help your specific needs?
- Do you throw caution to the wind, or do you remember that people you might meet on social media may not be who they seem and may even have criminal intentions? Don’t meet anyone secretly.
In the end, make a conscious assessment of what social media and the people you link with do for your happiness and well-being. And never set yourself up for embarrassment and blackmail by sending nude photos or other personal information that can be used against you.
Keep in mind, too, that there are many social media channels with different pros, cons, benefits, and threats: Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. The differences are beyond the scope of this article, but parents definitely need to understand and monitor what their children are exposed to.