take a break fro social media

Social Media Part 7: Wrap up: What Can We Do?

During the pandemic, we have all realized the need for face to face connection and how a lack of can take a toll on our mental health. Connection has shown to be the color in our lives. We need it!

Our phones have turned into our companions. A constant in our lives we reach for when we are lonely, bored, seek entertainment, and even as a way to avoid engaging with others. As with any friend, we need to evaluate whether they are good for us. So when it comes to social media use, take inventory.

Take inventory of what you expose yourself to on social media and how you think it impacts you. Ask yourself; Do I spend more time living in someone else’s world instead of my own? Who am I caught up following and why? Is my time spent comparing myself to others? Is my need for belonging being satisfied or taking a hit? Is my curiosity running my use causing me to spend endless hours surfing? What is the voice inside my head saying after use? AND how does it leave me feeling?

For parents:

It is harder than ever to be a teen and young adult. The world is full of chaos and noise right now. It is difficult to maneuver through the noise and just be a teen.

The bar is set so high in all aspects of their life. Making it feel like they have to compete at such a high level. It’s not a 4.0 anymore, it’s a 4.4. It’s not just being a good student, it’s, are you well rounded? Do you have internships and volunteer positions? Are you doing it all? The pressure is insurmountable. The bar is somewhere in clouds never able to really know where it is and when you’ve reached it. We think social media is a way to unwind or have down time. But it’s just another place where they see they aren’t measuring up, not reaching the bar.

If you are a parent, talk with your young adult about pressures and tendencies to compare themselves to others. Let them know they don’t have to partake in the race to the unknown finish line.

Talk with them about increases of anxiety, depression, and loneliness that can come from social media use. And that when we are down, we tend to isolate and social media use tends to increase. This upturn in use during difficult times can cause one to feel worse. A downward spiral that can be hard to recover from.

Help them instead of punishing them.

Help them filter their feed, finding positive things to look at instead of things that make them feel bad.

Don’t minimize their need to connect with their friends but help them find ways they can connect in person. Talk with them about using it to build upon their relationships not be the only avenue for their relationships.

Weekly I will ask my clients to take a break from social media for a day or two. Just to see how they feel. Without fail they tell me they feel better, more free, less anxious, less down, and engaged in more pleasurable activities. They report feeling better about themselves. Talk with your young adult about taking a day away from social media.

Actually, we should all give it a try!

Please read the other blogs in this series:


Social Media Part 6: Bullying

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”

This is the biggest BS I’ve ever heard. For some reason, we should only hurt when someone has physically injured us, not when someone says something painful about us or to us.

Teasing, taunting, and bullying have been around forever. And unfortunately, it’s not surprising that bullying happens over social media. According to the I-Safe Foundation, “Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying.” And, “about half that are bullied, don’t tell their parents what’s going on.”

Why is cyberbullying rampant?

Social media is an environment where tearing someone else down is so much easier than in person. There are less inhibitions to say and do things that hurt other people because it’s not a face-to-face interaction. It’s a place where the vulnerable are more accessible.

Cyberbullying is possible with just a few clicks. Posting an embarrassing photo or saying hurtful things can be done with ease. We can fall prey to it and not give it a second thought when the person isn’t in front of us.

Why is bullying more harmful online? It can feel like there’s no escape when someone is bullying you online. Before when you were bullied, you could escape the person, walk away, or the school day ended. Now the bully can persist even after you walk away. It can go on 24/7.

Before social media when a bullying event happened, others may have seen it. But now, hurtful words, rumors, and embarrassing photos can be posted. They can remain for days before taken down or even permanently posted. The embarrassment and shame can linger.

What is the psychology behind someone bullying?

We know that bullies can be insecure individuals that are also hurting in some way themselves. They can have something going on in their own lives they’re having trouble dealing with. Problems at home, being bullied by someone else, low self-esteem, or a need to exert control or power because they feel powerless in some way. They prey on individuals that most likely won’t fight back and are less secure with themselves. This enables the bully to feel superior and feeds their need for control.

Bullies may not seem like sensitive individuals, but they are. We’re all sensitive. Accessing and expressing our feelings and sensitivity can be learned. A safe environment is necessary and is something a bully may not have.

I see individuals with tough exteriors. My curiosity helps me connect with my clients. The safe place I establish allows them to let their guard down. And then the floodgates open. It never fails… even those who bully. Anger is a defense mechanism. Bullying others is a way to push off something that is wrong inside of them and push it onto someone else.

Not all bullies intend to bully. Some just go along even though it wasn’t their idea or intention to bully someone else. They may feel they will be rejected by their current group of friends if they don’t partake in the kindless act. They fear if they speak up and don’t join in they may be excluded from the group. OR they may be next in line. Either way their belonging becomes at risk.

For those who intend to bully, belonging can be a catalyst. It can be a way to exert power in an effort to be known in a particular group and be popular.

Some are compelled to comment when no comment was asked. They feel others must know their opinion when it wasn’t solicited. If the comment or opinion is positive or supportive, then great. How nice to put something out there in cyber space and get back some kudos. But when the tone of the comment is negative, it can cause the same result as bullying behavior, the feeling of ‘I don’t belong.’

Whether it is bullying or a few unkind words said in cyberspace, it can be painful for the person on the receiving end. It can have a lasting negative impact. When interacting with others on social media, always ask yourself before posting: is this necessary, kind, or helpful?

If you’re a parent, talk to your kids about bullying even if you don’t suspect it’s happening. Give them examples of what bullying can look like and let them know you are there to listen and help. And if they are being bullied or dealing with unkindness over the internet, don’t minimize the impact it can have on their mental wellbeing.

Please read the other blogs in this series:


Social Media Part 5: Curiosity

Social media feeds into our human natural tendency to be curious. We need curiosity; it helps us learn new things and serves as a vehicle for growth. But curiosity with regard to social media can be like falling into a large black hole we can’t get out of. The ease and immediacy lures us in and it’s so hard to turn off.

We then rely on something else to squash our natural sense of curiosity to get out of the hole: willpower. Willpower to withstand the immediacy of our curiosity and the reward of our addiction. But the thing we’re addicted to is in our pocket or handbag all day, every day! Can you imagine trying to quit smoking while carrying a pack of cigarettes in your pocket?

Let’s look at breakups. You have to work so hard to move past a breakup nowadays. Breakups no longer mean you just stop talking to the person. Now, you have to delete them from every form of your social media. You have to make sure you can’t see them from someone else’s social media feed. You need a tremendous amount of willpower. And if your curiosity is in play, which it always is, you may NOT delete them from your social media which means you end up watching them not be sad about the breakup–or so it may seem. You see them out and about, laughing, having fun, and hanging out with a new potential girlfriend / boyfriend. I use the word potential because every person you see them with is someone they are interested in in your mind. It is a minefield for your thoughts.

Break ups used to be hard, but now can be tortuous. You used to still see your ex at school or a party or social gathering. You would see them talking to someone else, checking to see facial expressions and body language, gathering clues to decipher if they were interested in them. Now you can see them 24/7. Trying to crack the code of what is going on for them; do they miss me? Are they happy we broke up? Are they interested in someone else? Are they sad without me? It leaves our mind to roam endlessly.

Think about whether it’s in your best interest to delete your ex from your social media. Not to be spiteful, but to save yourself from mental anguish.

Break ups are just one example where our curiosity is at play, making it difficult to manage our social media use which can negatively impact our mental wellbeing. Ask yourself, where else is my curiosity showing up that isn’t so helpful? Is my curiosity taking over, causing me to spend hours on social media? Could that time be spent pursuing something else I‘m curious about that would fulfill me in a better way?

Please read the other blogs in this series: