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Top 3 Reasons Why Social Media Damages Your Brain
Everyone loves social media! And if they don't, they are either lying to themselves or to others.
Social media is supposed to fill a deep hole in our souls: the need for communication and recognition. And what easier way of achieving that than posting a picture of yourself in a fancy restaurant, and then have dozens of people liking it?
Not only that, but social media is also supposed to help you keep track of your friends' activities, as well as meet new people, who may add a lot of value to your life.
At least, that's how things are supposed to work. But despite what their owners are telling us, social media sites do more harm than good. Here are the key ways in which social media websites will affect your mental health.
Many of us are addicted to lots of things. Most people aren't able to crawl out of their beds until they drink a large cup of coffee, isn't it? Others can't stop themselves from buying expensive stuff (clothes, shoes, and so on) even though they cannot afford these things.
So, what else could go wrong when we're already addicted to so many things?
Social media activities stimulate the reward centers in our brains. This happens whenever people like our profile picture, write a positive comment on one of our photos, and so on.
Most of us aren't celebrities, so we don't get constantly praised on our way to work. But getting lots of compliments each day is possible on social media sites, especially if we post altered pictures of ourselves and our urban adventures.
When we are complimented on social media, our brains will start producing dopamine, the same powerful neurotransmitter that is responsible for the smokers' desire to light up a cigarette, for example.
This explains why people keep their Facebook pages open all day long, being eager to see if they have received a new like, a new comment, etc. They run towards their computers as soon as they have got a few minutes of free time!
As the time passes, the addiction deepens, and can lead you into a state that makes you unable to work, study, take care of your family, and so on. Several people have lost their jobs because of their social media addiction!
2. Diminished attention span
Our kids are spoiled these days! I can still remember my childhood, when one of my deepest desires was to play soccer with my friends. I could chase that poor ball without getting bored for hours!
Today, children and teenagers experience ADHD symptoms in larger and larger numbers. Social media "helps" with that, because when you are logged in, there's always something interesting to do.
You can watch a funny video, for example. You can read new comments, reply to a message, get involved into a conversation, etc. And if you've got at least a few hundreds of virtual friends, your timeline will never be empty, so you'll always have something exciting to do.
Few people understand that as they jump from one activity to the other, their brains learn to get and work with tiny bits of information. As the time goes by, people find it harder and harder to concentrate in real life situations, because as they do their routine tasks at work or school, there aren't any new "notifications" to interrupt the boredom.
People suffering from this problem will get bored easily, and they will feel uneasy whenever they have to sit still, without doing something exciting.
3. Decreased brain power
You may have considered yourself smart for discovering that tiny cat that's hidden behind a closet in that Facebook picture, but trust me: viewing photos all day long and writing meaningless comments won't make you smarter. Quite the opposite!
All these social media activities - yes, even changing your status! - will occupy your brain, preventing it from learning things that would help boost your IQ.
Of course, it's easy to be smart on social media! Google is only a mouse click away, after all, so you can look really smart by simply running a search and posting the resulting text as your answer.
Few people will take the time to read a book, though. That would require some concentration power, and very few teenagers have it these days.
So, now that we are aware of the problem, what can we do to fix it?
If you are strongly motivated, unplug from social media for a week and see what happens. If you managed to do it, why not take another week off?
But maybe you want to start with smaller steps. If this is your case, set a few simple rules and obey them.
Don't log into your social media accounts more than three times per day, for example. I know it will hurt, but if you check your friends' activities in the morning, at noon and before going to bed, you should be okay.
Another idea is to use social media as a reward. Tell yourself that you're only going to check the latest Instagram photos after you are done working. Use your addiction for a good purpose.
Go outside! Take a long walk in a nice park! It will do wonders for your mental health, and it will keep you away from social media for a few hours.