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Three facts make life with social media easier | socialON

Children’s University Siegen on social media and mental health

(socialON) 88 percent of young people in Germany use social media. The Federal Statistical Office found this out. The communication differs from analog contact maintenance. Anne Möbert’s topic in the third lecture at the Siegen Children’s University was therefore very topical: “Social Media and Mental Health”. What influence do Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, Telegram, Twitter or TikTok have on our mental health?

The doctoral student in the field of social and business psychology at the University of Siegen asked the children in the Friedrich Schadeberg lecture hall at the Lower Castle and the girls and boys in front of the computer screens which social media they use. WhatsApp, Instagram and TikTok were the favorites for the children. Anne Möbert: “Social media is pretty widespread in the world.” Networking and getting to know new people online – that sounds tempting at first glance. However, this only applies if rules are observed when dealing with these media.

At least that’s what some scientists think. The subject of research in psychology is people. And because people are very different, scientists also come to different conclusions. Only quantity can help, i.e. the production and evaluation of as many studies as possible. “We don’t yet know exactly what causes social media to make us happy or sick,” said Möbert. However, there is strong evidence that three factors should be considered when using social media.

First and foremost is the need for adequate sleep to generate energy and be healthy. A survey of the Children’s University children corresponded to the usual values: adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a day, children nine to eleven hours or even more. Children have to learn and grow a lot, so the need for energy is increased. If you want to get a good night’s sleep, you should stop using your cell phone or watching TV an hour before you go to bed.

“Many young people use their cell phones just before they go to bed. The display is illuminated, hormones are released, stress sets in: we wake up,” explained Möbert. Add in thinking about the news and we can’t fall asleep. Exciting reading can also stand in the way of sleep. But reading itself is very useful for our brain.

And: Comparisons with each other should be avoided on social media. The doctoral student: “As a rule, you only post positive things.” Users receive a lot of great news within a short time. These lead to many comparisons. People can handle individual negative comparisons very well, but many unfavorable comparisons can become a really big, incriminating chunk:

“We have to realize that these social comparisons do not reflect reality. Everyone only shows what they want to show.” There can be big differences between the high gloss posted and everyday life. With this background knowledge, you should not measure your own life situation against the posts of others. Otherwise, people can become very unhappy.

A positive aspect of social media can be that people can seek and find support from others. “Social media makes it very easy to reach many people,” says Möbert. There are people who can communicate better via social media than in analog situations. “It is important to know that it is possible to get support through social media. This knowledge is enough to make us happy.” However, maintaining social relationships with likes and shares should not be exaggerated.

“It’s like a kind of friendship maintenance.” Be careful with people you don’t know that well. According to the young scientist, people who overdo it with liking and sharing tend to be less satisfied with themselves. “We need a healthy middle ground.”

Source & picture: University of Siegen, 03/24/2022

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