The majority of US college students spend hours each day on social media platforms, which can impact mental health and overall well-being. These are some tips to use social media in a healthy, positive way.
1. Support A Healthy Online Community
“Before you COMMENT, let your words pass through three gates:
At the first gate, ask yourself “Is it true?”
At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
As inspired by a quote from Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet.
2. Live in the Moment
Photos and videos have their place, but awareness of the present moment is crucial to your connections and experiences! A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by Tamira et.al. reports that media usage could even change or reduce memories of life events. So, capture that amazing sunset, but don’t forget to enjoy it too.
3. Link Instead of Compare
Comparing yourself to other people can make you unhappy in the long run, whereas making genuine connections with others can enhance your overall well-being. If you are on social media for a few minutes, mindfully ask yourself, “Am I comparing? Or linking?” Take a moment to do something that links you – reach out to an old friend or elder relative and send them something to brighten their day.
4. Follow People and Things that Bring You Joy
A lot of social media content is highly curated and may represent lifestyles and attitudes that don’t exist. To account for this, consider limiting the number of people you follow on social media. This could mean only following those who are close to you, make you feel good, and will be there when you need them.
5. Keep Things IRL (In Real Life)
If social media is causing you any stress, consider deleting apps such as Facebook and Instagram from your phone so that you don’t have easy access to them. Prioritize time with friends and family over time spent on social media.
6. Start Your Day Intentionally
As easy as it is to pick up your phone and start scrolling from your bed, it may not be the healthiest way to begin as you cannot control what you’re going to see. Seeing something negative could potentially contribute negative subconscious thoughts that put one at risk for unhealthy patterns according to research conducted by Dr. Marcus Raichle at Washington University in St. Louis. Try starting with meditation, prayer, stretching, or positive affirmations instead. These alternatives are likely to support a healthier internal monologue.
7. Make Events Accessible
If you’re planning an event, be sure there are other ways for people to RSVP who aren’t on Facebook or other social media platforms.
8. Take A Break and Support Others in Doing So
If a friend is struggling with social media overuse and wants to take a break from it or use blocking apps, support them and don’t make fun of them. Join them in the break if possible.
9. Don’t Struggle Alone
If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, attention problems, or any other deeper issue related to social media overuse, make an appointment to talk with someone who can help you feel better again. MIT offers an array of peer, group, and counseling services. Visit doingwell.mit.edu to learn more.
This list was created in partnership with MindHandHeart, Mental Health and Counseling at MIT Medical, the Division of Student Life, and Active Minds at MIT.