Social media has allowed human societies to become more connected than ever before. More than three billion people around the world use social media to engage with others, access news and share information. In the U.S. alone, seven out of 10 people are active social media users.

Social media has become such a big part of our lives that we sometimes don’t even realize how much time we spend scrolling through our feeds.

Recent research explores the negative implications of social media, including sleep issues, an overall increase in stress, a rise in mental health conditions and addiction to technology. There are also concerns about cyberbullying and online safety for children and teenagers.

On the other hand, there are many benefits to social media. Young people today consider social media as platforms for sharing their voices and finding communities of like-minded peers.

Regardless of what type of impact we believe these digital platforms can have on us, we must be intentional about how we use social media.

Here are some tips for how to have a healthy relationship with social media. There are several things to keep in mind, including boundaries, genuine connection, authenticity, mental health and – if all else fails – taking a full break and deleting social media apps from your phone and other devices.

First, let’s talk about boundaries. Be clear about what your purpose is when logging onto a social media site and stick to it. Reduce your screen time; schedule times to use social media and times to step away.

Keep social media out of the bedroom because it can hurt your sleep. Not only does the blue light emitted by phones and tablets keep your mind awake, but constant interruptions can be distracting when you’re trying to rest. Consider activating a “do not disturb” setting for certain nighttime hours.

Second, it’s important to focus on experiencing genuine connections on social media. Support and connect with others in a meaningful way. Use other people’s posts as inspiration rather than comparison. Make time for friendships offline and outside of social media, too.

Third, don’t forget to be authentic. It’s common to only post about your highlight reel. Take note of what you share – these posts will live on the internet forever, even if you delete them. When you keep yourself authentic, you’re constantly cultivating a healthy environment for not only yourself to grow, but for others to grow as well.

Fourth – and this is really important – focus on your mental health. Unfollow unhealthy accounts that make you or others feel bad about themselves. “Don’t Feed The Trolls” – people who comment just to be negative or to get a reaction. In fact, you might not want to read the comments at all!

Finally, if all else fails, consider taking a full break from social media and deleting the apps from your phone.

There are a lot of differing opinions on the utility of social media and the effects it has on us. But just like anything else on the internet, it is a tool. So, it is our responsibility to learn how to wield it.


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