A Dopamine Kick (Another ADHD Podcast)

19. This Is Why Social Media Is Damaging Your Mental Health

April 09, 2022
A Dopamine Kick (Another ADHD Podcast)
19. This Is Why Social Media Is Damaging Your Mental Health
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Show Notes Transcript

Using social media gives us a HUGE dopamine kick, but as we've discussed many times on this podcast, sometimes you can get dopamine kicks for all the wrong reasons.

Social media gives us a rush of dopamine but just like any other addiction, we need more of it to satisfy our dopamine needs and so it's easy to get stuck in the same repetitive cycle, hooked on our phones, repeatedly checking apps. The problem with social media is although it has many positive reasons for using it, there are also many negative things about it too!
When you find yourself  constantly checking notifications for updates, scrolling news feeds due to the fear of missing out or comparing yourself to others, it maybe time  to take a look at your social media usage and if it could be a contributing factor to a decline in your mental health and low self worth. 

This is a 2 part special on Social Media. In this first episode we look at the positive impacts of social media, as well as the impacts of how social media could be damaging your mental health. We give you some advice and tips on how to regulate your social usage so it's at a healthy level. Part 2 will be centred more around how to fight your social media addiction so you have the tools to put your phone down and beat your social media addiction once and for all.

The science bit:

Social media has been proven to be damaging to mental health

Isolation Study:

Little Kicker: Challenge - Check your social media usage time by using an app on your phone (screen time, wellbeing etc) to see how much time you are actually spending on social media.

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Shell 0:

12 Welcome to dopamine kick, your weekly dose of positivity. We're your hosts Sparky and shell. Join us each week as we have changed your habits to tackle fears and challenge your mindset. Let's get to it. Hello everyone and welcome to episode 19 of a dopamine kick. Today we're gonna be talking about social media and whether it is impacting your mental health.

Sparky 0:

37 This is a topic that I am so looking forward to, because social media is just one of those things that we're all on it and it can be really damaging. So I can't wait to get into this episode. But before we do, I say this every single week. And I know it's annoying book please please subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already. And stick around to the end for this week's little kick out. And last week, we did a little kicker where we did a little challenge to help you de stress every single day. Hopefully this helped you let us know if you did any of those things. What did you do and if it helped, you can find our Instagram, our tic tock which we have now as well. And our email in the description below.

Shell 1:

23 Yeah, absolutely. Let us know like what you found was the most useful. Anything you tried that didn't work. We just really love to hear from you. Okay, so social media. So what I thought we'd do is start with some stats on social media use. So we looked at some research by global web index, and they found the average social media use over the whole world so globally, is two hours and 27 minutes a day. The deduction absolutely blew my mind that 17 hours a week. That is basically a whole additional waking day of time that on average we're spending on social media.

Sparky 2:

03 You know what I have a little bit of a confession there. That is a massive number, but sometimes I have to admit that my usage is a lot more than that.

Shell 2:

13 I definitely have days like, if I'm not home and the weather's miserable, and I don't have any plans. I definitely have days where I can spend hours waste hours on social media, but I think per day, I think my average is probably lower. But I've been trying to moderate my social media use for years now. Doing it badly but still trying.

Sparky 2:

37 If you think about it, like you just said that's over 17 hours. A week of additional time that people are spending on social media. And you know, that's just an average. So some people are spending more time on that. That's like another job but that's like if you've got a job already, that's 20 hours, you know, or even if you've got a job that's 40 hours a week that is like that additional time on top. That's the depth into mental I think it's absolute madness that we spend this much time scrolling social media.

Shell 3:

07 Can you imagine what if somebody gave you that time someone said like, here's a whole day you can do whatever you want with it. I think the majority of people wouldn't be like, Oh, brilliant. Let's fire up my phone. Get my scrolling thumbs out.

Sparky 3:

21 Do you know why I'm laughing? I'm laughing because that's what actually happens. No, yeah, we get a day. We're like, oh, what can we do in my life today? Oh, I know. I will spend loads of time. Just scrolling social media mindlessly looking at everyone else's life and just just being happy doing that.

Shell 3:

39 I now complain that I don't have any time for hobbies.

Unknown Speaker 3:

44 To do anything else, 46 yeah. Not enough hours in the day. Well, I could claw back another two and a half.

Sparky 3:

53 So before we get into more ranting about social media, let's talk about the positives of social media. And what's what's it good for? And why do we actually like it? Because I think it's important, you know, not just to talk about all the negatives when it comes to social media, there are positives. So let's talk about some of those first.

Shell 4:

11 Yeah, so it's great for communicating, staying up to date with family and friends, especially if they are all around the world or around the country, you know, people that you can't just look over and see. Yeah,

Sparky 4:

23 I mean, you know, if you've got people that you like you said I live in, in different parts of the world, then sometimes you may feel really lonely so you can use social media to offer emotional support to people during tough times, or even seek support yourself as well because it's all important that you know, we have that connection with people and with everything that's been going on in the world recently. We've been using it a lot more obviously because we haven't been allowed to actually, you know, kind of see people. So it's been really good in that instance, as well to keep connections with people.

Shell 4:

54 It's really good for joining or promoting well worthwhile causes. You can use it to raise awareness on important issues. Find friends, communities, you know, network with other people who share interests or ambitions.

Sparky 5:

10 You can also use it to find social connection as well. So as I was saying before, if you live in a remote area, and you have things like social anxiety or limited independence, or you're part of a marginalised group then you can use social media to reach out to those people and find people that have like minded views.

Shell 5:

31 It can be a great resource for learning new things and valuable information. Obviously, always. Source check. First, but also things like providing an outlet for creativity and self expression. So there's plenty of things that social media is good for. And I think we should probably acknowledge that, you know, social media in itself isn't necessarily harmful. It's the patterns and the way that we use it that can have negative impacts on our life.

Sparky 6:

02 Yes. So like, like you said about getting like dopamine in the wrong ways. Social media is exactly one of those things that we use in the wrong way to get dopamine kicks, as we will talk about in this

Shell 6:

13 episode. Okay, so I've got a study for you this week on social media and mental health. So this study looked at the rollout of Facebook across US college students, and they demonstrated that the rollout of Facebook coincided with a decline in mental health for the students. It also translated into poor academic performance. And they've theorised are the results of have indicated and suggested that this is due to Facebook fostering unfavourable social comparisons between the students. I think it's really interesting to find a study that so clearly shows a link between social media use declining mental health.

Sparky 6:

56 Yeah, and I think that's really important as well, because you know, we all talk about that it damages our mental health, but it's really good to know that we've got some science there that backs it up. And there's various studies that have been done out there about the impacts of mental health when it comes to using social media. So with that, in mind, let's go on to some of the negative things of social media.

Shell 7:

15 Okay, so the first one I've touched on in our science part, but it's social comparison. So we all know that the images on social media are manipulated. You know, we all know how to use the filters. We've all probably done it ourselves with our own photos. But still, it can make you feel really insecure when you're looking at other people's manipulated photos. And I think it's it's hard to keep in your mind that people share their highlights and not their daily mundanes. So when you're sitting there cold, gloomy day in your pyjamas getting ready for a long day at work, and you're scrolling on your phone looking at someone's like airbrush, tropical beach holiday. It can be really difficult to bear in mind that that isn't you know, that isn't their everyday life that they have mundane moments and boring times in their life as well. But it makes you feel like everybody is living such a better life than you are and everybody's doing better than you are.

Sparky 8:

11 Yeah, I have to. I have to say here that this is something that I can easily get caught up in. You know, we all know that it's manipulated and we all know that you know, someone's gone away. And they've got loads of content from that one holiday but makes you look like they're always here. They're in everywhere. And even though you know that all of that stuff isn't like exactly real. I mean, it's real but it's not real. You know, the like you said the filters and the music and all the emotion that goes into it still so easy to sit there and think my life or for my life's terrible like why can I do this? Why can I do that? And this is why the social comparison makes people feel so like just unworthy because they just feel like they're not. They don't look like that person. They don't have that. Life that person's got and it just makes you feel really insecure and it makes you feel like you're just not you're just not living a great life. And I think that's why this one in particular, the comparison one is something that I really feel like we need to kind of stop doing but it's just so difficult, isn't it when you're just sat there watching people that you feel are better looking than you or you feel like a better life than you so the one thing that I would suggest doing here is just look at the people that you are following. And if there are people that are making you feel this way, just unfollow them because there is literally no point in seeing somebody's constant highlight reel. And not that they're not sharing the reality of life with you. So I just feel like sometimes you just need to make that decision. Just cut them

Shell 9:

47 exactly like you don't have to unfriend somebody you can just unfollow them. Exactly. So they don't even have to know it can do so much for your mental health not to keep seeing that.

Sparky 9:

58 You know, log Shellder said that you don't have to unfollow somebody as in unfriend them. You can just limit posts. You don't need to see it all the time. So if there are people online that are making you feel this way, just make sure that you're protecting your own mental health and you're just removing them from being seen on your blog, you're just removing that from being seen on your newsfeed or whatever it is where you are at the moment. And that brings us on to our next one, which is Fear Of Missing Out shall knows all this too well because shell suffers from FOMO

Shell 10:

30 I totally get FOMO so bad. So for those of you not in the know FOMO Fear Of Missing Out is it's similar thing really it's a feeling that others are having more fun or living a better life than you are and it it can really impact things like your self esteem, trigger anxiety, and it fuels you wanting to use more social media. So because of FOMO you have to pick up your phone every few minutes and check for updates because, you know you don't want to be the last person that's heard about this like latest thing that's happened and that sort of compulsive need that you have to respond to every notification that your phone gets. That's all that's all FOMO so that's one of the reasons why I no longer have notifications on my phone because I'm just happier calm a person without

Sparky 11:

22 this. You know this fear of missing out is the one thing that social media, tech giants, whatever you want to call them is relying on it's relying on you to keep going back for more and more and more. It's exactly the same feeling that you get with gambling it's going back for more and more wanting to feel like you're part of something wanting to feel like you're involved in whatever's going on. And that's what's making you pick up the phone that is what's making you check those updates, because you want to be part of something. So like Cheryl said, the best thing that you can do here is if you are the kind of person who does have fear of missing out, then disable those notifications because if you're not being notified about what's going on and you know you're not getting those constant reminders, then it's easier to kind of not be

Shell 12:

13 compelled by it. So the next thing that we have for you is isolation. So although we touched on before that going on social media can help if you're feeling lonely, if you're maybe somewhere more rural, it can help you feel connected. Equally. There's a balance in that because using social media too. Much can actually increase your feelings of loneliness because you're not, you're not truly connecting with other human beings. So this is one that I thought was so important that we've got an additional study for you that I'll pop in the show notes about this, but it's basically and I think we've probably all felt that, haven't we that you know, you'll be feeling a bit low or lonely or down about something. And your first instinct is to just reach for your phone and scroll on social media. And it doesn't make you feel any better because you're just scrolling through everyone else's highlights makes you feel sad because nobody's posting saying, Oh, I'm just sitting home in my pants has nothing to do. So then you end up struggling more and it's a vicious cycle.

Sparky 13:

20 Which brings us on to our next one which is getting feelings of depression and anxiety. So as humans we need face to face connection. With people to deal mentally healthy. And if you're going to see people and you're interacting with loved ones, you'll get like a mood boost just from the people around you how they're acting, being involved in conversation, having that face to face connection with someone, but the more that you actually use social media, the more you become more isolated like show which are saying and you actually develop a risk of exacerbating any sort of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. So we talked about this before in a previous episode. We were talking about social awkwardness. And I was actually saying that the less that I go out, the more anxious I feel, and this is exactly the same thing. The less that you interact with people face to face, the more you become, you know cut off from people, the more isolated you feel, the more lonely you feel. And that's why it increases the risk of anxiety and also depression as well. So this is really important to, you know, take a mental note on and make sure that you are actually getting out there and you are actually talking to people you're seeing people face to face and you're doing things for people on a weekly basis.

Shell 14:

43 Another negative aspect of social media is it can unfortunately be used as a medium for cyber bullying. platforms like Twitter can be just absolute hotspots for spreading hurtful rumours lies really sort of emotional scarring situations. And I think people are a lot braver sort of behind their keyboard than they would ever be to you in person. You see this a lot with things like online reviews as well. You know, people be absolutely scathing in a way that they just would probably never have behaved in person. But actually, if you're on the receiving end of that and you're reading all of those sort of nasty thoughts and everything directed at you, it hurts as much as if someone were saying it in person.

Sparky 15:

33 And I think that ties in really nicely with the next thing which is self absorption. Now, we were just talking there about how you would never act this way in person. But online, we do act in various different ways that we probably wouldn't act in front of people. So sharing endless selfies about all our innermost thoughts and social media can be really unhealthy and that can come across like you're selfish or self centred, and actually distance you from real life connections. If someone's acting a certain way online, that they wouldn't act in person, you might sit there and think to yourself, well, they're a bit self obsessed. They're a bit self absorbed. Like that's that's a false perception of who they actually are. And because you're behind a screen, it makes it easier for you to act that way. So when we talk about cyber bullying and self absorption and things like that, just remember that when people are behind a screen and they're not in front of people, people will act differently. And that's why these sort of things can really exacerbate and become a massive problem.

Shell 16:

34 And then the final thing that we have for you is the social media cycle. I touched on it a little bit earlier on. So this is when you're feeling a bit down maybe lonely, depressed or stressed about something. So you use social media to believe boarder and pass a little bit of time or to just feel a connection with with other people. But when you use social media and you see highlights of other people's life, you get FOMO you get an adequate you're dissatisfied with your own life and you're in situation. So this will then negatively affect your mood worse and all those feelings that you are having of being a bit lonely bit stressed. And then that makes you use social media even more. And so the downward spiral continues and you get yourself into a place where you're just stuck on social media. You desperately want to be out living a fantastic life that you see other people living, but actually, you're just stuck in bed or stuck on the sofa, scrolling mindlessly through other people's social media watching them live their lives. Rather than living your life. And

Sparky 17:

43 the reason that we've talked about all this sort of stuff is because we have actually done this ourselves. I mean, I'm not talking about like cyber bullying or anything like that. But I mean like the fact that we will use social media. We will scroll we will start feeling inadequate. And I have to admit, I'm going to be completely honest on this podcast. You know, a few weeks I have actually been scrolling social media and I felt so I felt terrible. I really have like, I've been saving all of these different things about life and quotes and, you know, getting out there and doing this and I'm just saving them I'm not really sure what I'm doing like to go back to maybe to just perpetuate the feelings even more and just show how many times do we do this on a daily basis, like too much, too much. So that brings us to the end of the episode. And this week, we have got a challenge for you again for our little kicker, and the reason that we've decided to go for a challenge this week is because social media, it needs a challenge. Doesn't it shine? It really does. It does.

Shell 18:

49 And so we've touched a little bit on ways to moderate your social media use, but next week, we're going to devote a whole episode to it. So to make sure you're all prepared. Our challenge this week is to track your social media use. So you can either do it manually by writing down every time you go on social media or it's probably easier to use an app. So most phones if you look at screen time, digital wellbeing, something like that they'll have it built in already or there are free apps that you can download that will track your social media time. So we challenge you to track exactly how much time every day you use social media for the next seven days. If at the end of seven days, you're happy that your use is infrequent and you don't need any help then you can skip our next episode skip episode 20 Because you don't need it. But I suspect that we're faced with the cold hard numbers. Most of you are going to be shocked at how much time per week you do spend on social media.

Sparky 19:

53 I honestly think you think you know how much time you're spending on social media. But you're going to be

Shell 20:

00 very surprised. All right, we'll catch you next week.

Unknown Speaker 20:

03 Bye bye

Sparky 20:

05 All right. That's everything this week, guys, but if you want to carry on with the conversation, join us over on our social media platforms. We're on all the major channels and our handle is at a dopamine kick. We'd also be super grateful if you could leave us a review on the podcast wherever you're listening, because it helps grow our audience and help more people. Okay, we'll see you in the next one. Bye bye

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