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Avid social media users seem to chase experiences for the sole purpose of posting about them, but taking a short social media detox from time to time can be therapeutic. (Courtesy of Toni Hukkanen/Unsplash)

Almost everyone wants to be sociable to an extent. Some people want an escape from the sober aspects of life such as work, studies or minor stressors. When these duties sap your time, people will often want convenient means of socializing.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow for users to find their friends online, amass a following and enjoy the myriad of photos or videos that show up on their timeline. While these aspects of social media are appealing, many factors of having an online presence can be detrimental to your mental health in the long run. If you feel that social media is beginning to threaten your mental or physical well-being, you should avoid using it altogether.

Using social media has become a constant habit of youth. According to Pew Research Center, 45% of adolescents report being online on a frequent basis. In a 2014 report by Pew, 24% of teens stated they were online constantly. Moreover, 52% of teens reported using Instagram and 41% using Snapchat. The reality is that many adolescents frequent social media several times a day, which can present multiple mental health problems in the long term.

If you’re worried about your mental health, consider avoiding the sites that threaten your well-being in excess. In a 467-participant 2016 study published in the Journal of Adolescence, linked higher social media use to worse sleep, depression and lower self esteem. The study gauged how emotionally-invested participants were using social media and examined their nighttime use of it as well. Nighttime use and emotional investment in social media especially contributed to higher levels of anxiety and depression. 

A 2011 study published in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism discovered that exposure to artificial light can threaten melatonin levels — a hormone attributed to regulating the sleep cycle. The blue light emitted from screens can especially worsen sleep quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation, through its short wavelengths which negatively affect melatonin levels. Although phone usage in general will emit this blue light, social media greatly incentivizes people to access their phones late at night. 

Given the links to the poorer sleep, depression and lower self-esteem, you should aim to minimize social media use to protect your well-being. Those who are tied emotionally to social platforms are more likely to suffer from these negative effects. If social media begins to hurt your well-being, it has clearly failed its purpose as an outlet to enjoy in the comforts of your own home.