Engaging with social media offers a valuable means of staying connected with friends and family and staying informed about global events. Nevertheless, the positive attributes of social media also carry certain risks to our mental well-being. Protracted periods spent on these platforms may result in detachment from reality, fostering feelings of isolation and loneliness. Furthermore, consistently comparing oneself to seemingly happier, more attractive, successful, and popular individuals—whether friends or celebrities—can induce negative emotions, diminish self-esteem, and foster unrealistic expectations. It should also be noted that using social media can be addictive because it triggers the reward system in the brain, and it can be difficult for us to detach ourselves from it even if it harms us and prevents us from performing our duties.  This is why it is important to be aware of different ways to protect our mental health when using them.

If you notice that engaging in social media has become more of a habit and is no longer a conscious choice, the easiest thing to do would be to remove the temptation. For example, you could put your phone away at night before you go to bed, which would also help you sleep better, or while you’re studying or working to remove the ever-so-tempting opportunity to check out what’s happening on social media. Another option is to go into your phone’s settings and limit the amount of time the device itself allows you to spend on that app. In case these methods don’t work either, a more extreme solution would be to leave social networks altogether or even delete your accounts – for a week, a month or however long it takes for your mental health to recover. You can then return to using them but in a more conscious and purposeful way.

As mentioned above, social media has many benefits, but it’s important to know how to use it wisely. One tip in this regard would be to take a more conscious approach and start noting the feelings and thoughts that different posts provoke in you. Although they may be almost unnoticeable their accumulation after a long time of aimless browsing could definitely affect the psyche. It’s possible that seemingly innocuous content could prove crucial to how you perceive yourself, others and the world. This is why it is extremely important to be selective about the pages, accounts and people you follow. If someone’s posts or messages bring you negative feelings you can always unfollow, unfriend or block the account. If you don’t like the ads or content you’re being shown, you can tag it with ‘not interested’, ‘inappropriate’ or whichever option the social media channel offers. That way you can take advantage of the algorithm – the more you choose what to see, the more relevant posts will come up. The control should be in our hands, not those of the social networks.

When using social networks, we must remember that the content we see is not a reflection of reality. Not only the photos and videos can be processed, but everything is specially selected by the individual users or organizations so that you only see what you want to see. It’s a good idea to look at social media more like a movie: through the lens of entertainment, not reality. One post could not show what kind of life a person actually leads, much less reflect what is going on in his head.

In conclusion, social media connects us to others and the world, but it also provides a space where our mental health becomes dependent on our online experience, especially if we are careless. In order to protect ourselves in the digital age, we need to have an understanding of the risks it poses, build healthy habits and take a more mindful approach to browsing the internet. We need to focus on building resilience and finding a balance between our online and offline lives.