Residence Life Manager at FutureLets, Coventry University
Tom Truman is a Residence Life Manager who is passionate about making a difference to student mental health. Below he shares his thoughts on the impact that social media has on mental health and his personal experiences.
3.5 billion people
use social media. That's 45% of the world’s population.
is the average an individual spends on social media every day.
is spent on social media advertising.
Some of the stats for social media usage are mind-blowing!
If you have access to this blog, I can assume you have checked your social media at some point today. I don’t want the blog to suggest that social media is evil but I would like you to consider whether it is a positive experience and suggest some changes to help improve it for you.
I love some elements of social media, it definitely has its positives – such as empowering Marcus Rashford’s push for free school meals, its positive influence on the Black Lives Matter movement and I am sucker for a great cat video!
Our ResLife Instagram shows you can create spaces for like-minded people, promote positive events and share important information in a format that is easily digestible. There are many other fantastic communities that are on social media accounts that have this impact too!
I recently did a mental health blog about my experiences with social media and how my personal Instagram had a negative impact on my mental health. The platforms that I personally use now are LinkedIn and Twitter for news. I have deleted other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and others because I felt they added little value to my life, not to say these platforms can't be used for the power of good as previously mentioned.
I am not alone in removing some social media platforms either. Research from Origin (2019) suggests there a whole host of reasons why Gen Z are considering quitting social media too.
As I said earlier, I don't want this blog to be about deleting social media but I do think with social media it is pertinent to ask the following questions…
Does your social media empower you?
Does your social media make you feel good?
Are the pictures you see real or are they hugely edited?
Do you feel that your friends are the same type of person in real life as they are on social media?
Are there way too many ads or promoted posts?
Is your feed filled with people sharing uplifting stories?
If no was the answer to any of these questions, the solution may not be to delete social media entirely but it may be important to reflect on why you use the social media and manage your expectations.
The following may help you shape a better experience on social media.
Understand why you use social media
Are you using social media to connect with family or friends? Or to keep up with your favourite sports team? Whatever the reason is, make sure you remember your reason so you are not scrolling to fill time.
Engage with positive content
If you love something that a page or profile is doing then engage with it. The more positive experiences you can have with the account the better. I find some really inspirational people that I like to connect with on LinkedIn – this actually improves my mood!
If a profile upsets, annoys you or makes you feel rubbish, then don’t follow them. You don’t have to follow accounts, it's your choice who to engage with.
Don’t check social media first thing!
Without realising social media could affect your mood and how you feel throughout the day. If you open your social media first thing in the morning you may see negative news stories, ads, photos that are upsetting etc. During the start of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic I was checking my social media to look at the latest news for Coronavirus. I found the negative news in the morning quite upsetting. I got into a daily routine of tracking cases, daily deaths etc. Make sure you have a healthy breakfast, then check your social media, no one has to start the day scrolling through social media.
If you have any social media hacks, advice or tips for a better social media experience please connect with me on LinkedIn and drop me a message!