Is social media affecting your wellbeing? How can you use social media to make it have a positive effect on your life? What does the research say about time spent on social media?
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Kathryn Ely speaks about the science of how social media can affect our wellbeing and helps you evaluate your own social media use.
Looking at the research
Did you know the average Facebook user spends about an hour on the platform almost every day? Many check social media apps on the phone before even getting out of bed. Up until recently, prior research has proven that social media may detract from face to face contact, reduce time spent doing meaningful activities, increase sedentary behaviour, lead to internet addiction, and erode self-esteem because of social comparison.
The problem is that this research could only prove an association between social media and these outcomes. It could not prove that social media consumption caused these outcomes.
Scientists who completed a two-year study involving 5,200 participants over this two year period tracked how social media affected the wellbeing of the participants. The results showed that real-world social networks were positively associated with overall wellbeing and Facebook was negatively associated with overall wellbeing.
These researchers discovered that wellbeing declines due to two factors:
- Quality of use – what you consume on Facebook
- And the quantity of use – how long you are on Facebook
Does this mean that Facebook is bad and we should ban all social media from our lives? No. What it means is we should be intentional and mindful of how and how often we use it. It’s time to evaluate your own social media use and whether it is helping or hurting wellbeing you must look at the quality of the content you read and see as well as the time spent on social.
Let’s start with quality
Unfollow or block people that annoy you, or make you feel jealous. It’s not working for you and that’s okay. Pay attention to how you feel when you are reading posts and looking at photos. If you don’t feel entertained or educated in a positive way, look at the content you consumed.
If you follow someone who is uplifting and encouraging and doesn’t boast and brag, then that works for you. Are part of a group that is uplifting and encouraging? Start using social media to support your wellbeing.
The other issue is the quality of time spent on social media. What if you track your own time spent on social media for a week? What else could you be doing with that time that would really elevate your life? Perhaps you could be starting an exercise routine, planning and shopping for a week’s worth of meals, going out to lunch for face-to-face interaction. How would these actions benefit and make your life better?
So it’s definitely not just about the content you consume, it’s the amount of time spent consuming it too.
Two steps to strengthen your wellbeing and your relationship with social media
- Control your quality or content: Unfollow the braggers, the world travellers or anything else that irritates you, makes you jealous or doesn’t leave you with good thoughts and feelings. Seek out groups that support that uplift you.
- Control your quantity-time spent: Intentionally set an amount of time that you are willing to give in your day to social media use. Schedule the time of day. That way you are not mindlessly getting sucked into it 15 min here, 10 min there. All adds up.
So the one imperfect action I encourage you to do today is to evaluate your social media use and how you feel before, during and after using it.
And when you do that, pat yourself on the back, and celebrate the fact that you took action toward the life you want.
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- Imperfect Thriving Email Course (Your Blueprint To Thrive)
Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
Thanks for listening!
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Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
[KATHRYN]: Imperfect Thriving is a part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the Imperfect Thriving podcast for all of us women in midlife to discover yourself limiting beliefs, determine exactly what you want your life to look like and the imperfect actions to get you there.
Hi everyone. This is the Imperfect Thriving podcast and I’m your host, Kathryn Ely. I’m so glad you are here today and I’m so excited about the topic of today’s podcast. Today’s podcast is all about comparing up social media. How’s it working for you? Today you will learn some of the science about how social media can affect our wellbeing and how to evaluate your own social media use to determine how it’s affecting your wellbeing and two important steps you can take to help social media be a positive influence in your life. But before we jump into today’s episode, if you enjoy this podcast, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. This podcast is designed especially for you. Let me hear from you about what’s working, what’s not working, so I can bring you more of what you want. And if you’ve not already done so, head on over to imperfectthriving.com/course to get your very own Blue Print to Thrive. This is a free email course I designed to guide you step by step to assess your satisfaction with your current life, determine exactly what you want your life to look like and how to take daily imperfect action to get you there. So go to imperfectthriving.com/course and sign up today. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Let’s go ahead and jump on into today’s episode. Did you know the average Facebook user is on Facebook about an hour almost every day, and that many of you check social media apps on your phone before you even get out of bed? Well until recently the research out there has proven that social media may and I underline MAY detract from face to face contact, may reduce time spent in meaningful activities, may increase sedentary behavior, may lead to internet addiction, and may erode self-esteem because of social comparison. And the reason I say may is because the problem with this research is that it could only prove an association between social media and these outcomes. It could not prove that social media consumption caused these outcomes and that’s a very important distinction.
But recently Harvard Business Review published a study, which, was a two-year study involving 5,200 participants and over the two-year period researchers tracked how social media affected the wellbeing of each of the participants. The results showed that real-world social networks positively associated with overall wellbeing and Facebook was negatively associated with overall wellbeing. These researchers discovered that wellbeing declines due to two factors when talking about Facebook. One is the quality of use, what you consume on Facebook and the other is the number of views, how long you are on Facebook. Now, does this mean that Facebook is bad or we should ban all social media from our lives?
No, that’s not what it means. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t or shouldn’t use social media. What it means is we should be intentional and mindful of how we use it, what we consume, and how often we use it. So to evaluate your own social media use and whether or not it’s helping or hurting your wellbeing, you must first look at the quality, the content that you read and see, and the quantity, the time you spend on social. So let’s start with the quality. If you are following someone that every time you look at their posts, you just get annoyed, irritated, or even jealous, it is time to unfollow or block that person. It’s not working for you and that is okay. And you know who I’m talking about. That person who was constantly letting you know every little accomplishment and award that their child receives or the photos of her friend traveling around the world while you’re stuck in the office or at home folding laundry.
Pay attention to how you feel when you are reading these posts and looking at these photos. How do you feel before you got on Facebook? How did you feel while you were on Facebook or Instagram and how did you feel after you finished? If you don’t feel entertained, educated, and uplifted in a positive way, then look at the content you’re consuming. Who made the posts and what were they about? It might be time to unfollow or block if you felt better before you got on social media than when you finish looking at social media, but if you follow someone who’s uplifting and encouraging and doesn’t boast and brag, then okay, that may work for you. Or if you’re a part of a Facebook group that’s uplifting and encouraging than social media might very well support your wellbeing. So that’s the content or quality issue you need to examine to determine how social media is working or not working for you.
The other issue is quantity. Time spent. What if you would, you tracked your own time spent on social media for a week? What would you find? How long do you think you spend on social media? Do you fall into a rabbit hole and spend more and more time than you actually want to when you get started? What else could you be doing with that time that would really elevate your life? If it’s an hour on Facebook, you could be starting a new exercise, routine, planning and shopping for a week’s worth of meals, or going out to lunch for a face to face interaction with a good friend. How would these actions benefit or make your life better? Do you start your day looking at social media before you even get out of bed? What mindset does this put you in for your day? So it’s definitely not just about the content you consume, it’s the amount of time you spend consuming it.
So here are two things you can do to strengthen your wellbeing and your relationship with social media. Control your quality or content and control your quantity or time spent. Now for the quality, unfollow the braggers, the world travelers, anyone or anything that irritates you, makes you jealous or just doesn’t leave you with good thoughts and good feelings and seek out groups that support and uplift you. So control the quality or the content. The second thing you can do is to be mindful and intentional with the quantity of time spent. Intentionally set an amount of time that you are willing to give in your day to social media use. Because remember, if it’s time that you’re giving one thing, it’s the time taken away from something else that you could be doing. So intentionally set an amount of time that you’re willing to give in your day to social media use.
Schedule that time of day. That way you’re not mindlessly getting sucked into 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there, and before you know you’ve spent an hour or two of your day that you could have been doing so many other things. So it’s not, I don’t want your takeaway from this research to necessarily be that all social media is bad and that it can’t contribute to our wellbeing. It’s not that Facebook and Instagram or necessary evils to be avoided. It’s that some people boast and brag and only put the best part of their lives on display, which even though we know that it still makes us compare up to them and feel bad about ourselves or like we are missing out. And I’ll tell you why our brains do this and I’m sure I’ve mentioned to you or a cavewoman minds before, right? Our brains were we’re wired to protect us because back in the day of a cavewoman, there were deadly dangers around every corner.
One way our brains protected us was we used it to compare ourselves to others in the group so that we could act in acceptable ways because we wanted to stay in the group. Groups were much safer than being out there on our own individually. Our society has evolved exponentially since then, but our brains have not. They are still comparison machines. Social media preys on our nature to compare. Think about how things were when we were growing up. I mean you might have compared yourself to Suzy or Sally at school, but you were only at school from eight o’clock until three o’clock. When you went home after that bell rang at three o’clock you got a break from the comparison. You didn’t know what everyone else was doing unless you were with them. There was less comparison and no fear of missing out because we just didn’t have a clue what everybody else was doing. What you didn’t know couldn’t hurt you.
Now because of social media presence, we have the ability to compare ourselves with others and what they are doing 24/7. Like anything else, the first step toward changing this is to be aware of exactly what is going on, what you are consuming, and how often and how long you are consuming it. So it’s not Facebook that is evil. It’s our human nature to compare. So we must figure out a way to use it in a way that builds us up, elevates us, and contributes to our wellbeing instead of taking away from it. One way to do this is by joining groups that are all about supporting each other, not outdoing each other. My goal and plan is to provide this kind of community on Facebook for us women, a place where you can come for encouragement and specific things you can implement to make your life fuller, richer, and maybe even more exciting.
I’m so glad that you joined me here today for this episode. You have learned how social media can affect our wellbeing, what to evaluate in your own social media use to see how it’s affecting you, and your wellbeing and two important steps to take to help social media be a positive influence in your life. So the one imperfect action I encourage you to do today is to evaluate your social media use, how you feel before you use it when you’re using it, and after you’re using it. And also monitor how many times you get on it today and how long you spend. You may be very surprised to exactly learn how much time you spend on social media. And after you do that, pat yourself on the back. Celebrate the fact that you took action toward the life that you want and you got closer to living your best life. Until we meet back here next week, go out, find a friend or a loved one to add to our community of women striving toward our best lives, supporting and nudging each other along the way. Share the Imperfect Thriving website and the podcast with them and take imperfect action towards your best life.
If you loved this podcast, will you rate and review it on iTunes or your favorite podcast player? Also, I have a free nine-part Blue Print to Thrive email course. It’s a step by step guide to finding out what you want your life to look like, exactly what’s holding you back and how to get to that life you want. Head on over to www.imperfectthriving.com/course to the course today.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, I encourage you to reach out to one.