She believes that with the fast advancement of technology, research on social media’s relationship to mental health is important. She added that there are signs people can watch for to suggest that they are being negatively impacted by social media.
“Signs to look for are when the behavior of checking social media becomes compulsive, or if a person starts obsessing over things other people are saying on social media,” Sarkis said.
“If someone is feeling isolation or loneliness, seeing a mental health professional may be helpful. And of course, any feelings of suicide should be addressed immediately.”
She has general tips for people who want to control their use of social media.
“Set a timer when you get online. When the timer goes off, log off,” Sarkis said.
“Also, shut off all electronics at least one hour before bed. Make face-to-face contact with friends and family, purely for social interaction, at least three times a week.”
Joumana Nasr, a certified life coach and the creator of Precious Victories coaching, said in an email that whether social media has an impact on users depends on their relationship with it and their predisposition to depression or anxiety.
She believes the technology itself doesn’t cause the issue, it’s just a tool. In her own experience, Facebook was a useful way to help her deal with depression by reconnecting with old high school friends.
“This allowed me to get out of my head and thoughts and forced me to turn my focus towards more pleasant and fun memories,” Nasr said.
She said research even points to an increase in the love/bonding hormone oxytocin (and a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol) when using social media sites.
However, people need to be careful and avoid becoming addicted to social media and using it as a replacement for real relationships, which could lead to anxiety and stress if social skills are lost.
She suggested making an effort to connect with people over the phone and in-person instead of only keeping up with them on Facebook. It will help users stay truly connected, and family and friends will also appreciate the genuine attention.