18 Dangers Of Social Media & How to Avoid Them

Are you also worried about your own or your kid’s addiction to social media? Or do you feel lost after scrolling TikTok & Reels for hours on your smartphone? Even if you are a normal person who is just curious about the Common Dangers of Social Media in your life, this article would be very helpful to you. It will help you keep safe and healthy.

Social media has engaged more people over the decade and was further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As per Statista, around 5.17 billion people will be using social media in 2024, which is projected to grow to 6 billion by 2027. Many health agencies in the US and across the world have raised concerns over the overuse of social media among all age groups and the threat it poses to people.

If social media use is not regulated, it starts taking over one’s life. All walks of life, from physical, mental, and social lives, are affected. Thus, this article will discuss the major threats or dangers social media poses to its users. So, let’s go straight into it.

Dangers of Social Media

What are the Dangers of Social Media?

This refers to the potential problems social media causes different people owing to its unregulated use. This includes things like addiction, physical & mental health problems, etc.

This article will discuss the major negative effects social media poses to people. So let’s discuss them one by one.

Dangers to Mental Health

#1 Stress

Stress refers to the feeling of being under pressure or threat due to someone or something. It is accompanied by physical, mental, and emotional responses and, if sustained over a long period of time, can be harmful to health. Stress can be identified by physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms. However, since there are no clear indicators, it’s very hard to determine when someone is under stress.

Social media can also cause stress, particularly among the adolescent population. It can arise in cases like.

  • Constantly updating posts on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
  • They feel envy and discomfort seeing others’ posts. They think their pals are always doing better than them.
  • FOMO or fear of missing out on social media posts and story updates.
  • For youths, often cyberbullying can also be a source of stress.

#2 Emotional Exhaustion

This refers to the mental state when people feel drained and exhausted emotionally. This results from a sum total of the stress and anxiety we have from our environment, like job, home, friends, poor health and trauma, etc. It is a form of burnout but in terms of emotions. People on social media who experience emotional exhaustion stop enjoying things that were once joyous and meaningful. This can make them feel worse.

Using Facebook, WhatsApp messaging & Instagram for hours every day for extended periods of time can cause emotional exhaustion. Constantly bombarding our senses with sensational audio-visual content just fatigues our brains, which are not designed to sustain such information overload. When we use too much social media, we start to enjoy it less and less.

#3 Anxiety

It is a feeling of fear or discomfort we feel when we encounter a stressful situation. For example, people get anxious before an interview. They start feeling panic and fear due to pressure in that situation.

Anxiety is linked to social media in multiple ways. Social media users have been reported to be more anxious. When they are using social media, they feel anxious due to envy, hatred, etc, and when they are not using it, they are anxious due to fear of missing something. In short, social media is like a double-edged sword that causes pain both ways. Further, such anxiety causes poor mental health and makes people more likely to consume alcohol.

#4 Depression

It is a mental disorder where people feel a lack of pleasure, have bad moods, have no interest in doing work, and have constant anxiety over a long period of time. It is estimated that around 280 million people around the world have depression. Depression is often identified with these:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Annoyed and lack of interest
  • Low energy and drive
  • A feeling of guilt and suicidal thoughts

A study has shown that people who use Facebook are more likely to be depressed. Social media companies like Facebook have internal research results that are shocking and show one out of three teenage girls has worsened body image issues. Also, people who use less social media show fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. All this is because if people spend less time on Facebook, Instagram, etc., they will see less content that makes them anxious, envious, and feel bad about themselves.

If your child is spending more than three hours a day on social media, the twice the risk of depression he has. Social media use and depression are co-related.

Helpful resources

#5 Social Media Addiction

Kids and adolescents spend more time on mobile for social media and gaming. They occasionally don’t behave well when you ask them to leave the phone aside. According to the US Surgeon General Advisory, not enough evidence is yet available to support the addiction. We don’t know when the clinical diagnosis will be made, and results will be public, but such behaviors are clear indications of addiction.

Social media addiction

They constantly keep their phones in their hands, switching between different apps, refreshing feeds, and checking their timelines for likes and comments to feel good. It releases dopamine, and they don’t want to put their phones aside. The average screen time has reached 6 hours 37 minutes daily. It is approximate to school hours or work hours. This adversely affects their well-being, relationships, and responsibilities towards family and society.

#6 Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is irresistible on social media. Targeted people can receive instant direct messages, comments, texts, and emails. This mostly happens among teenagers, which can hurt their mental health condition. So, we must protect kids and adolescents from the risks associated with social media. We can use parental control to manage their social media accounts.

Report cyberbullying:

#7 Poorer Self-Image

Our children learn about themselves and dream about their careers in their teenage and early youth. If they are following the right people, pages, and content on social media, they can build a positive self-image. You can notice diverse representation and self-expression quickly.

Not everyone can use social media positively; some children and teens face negative sides, too. Teenage girls, especially, are suffering from poorer self-images on Instagram. For those who have low self-esteem, social media brings mental health risks for them.

#8 Online Reputation

What kind of social media content you consume may risk your online reputation. It’s possible to track which accounts you follow so you can understand what reputation you will have during your college and professional life. Top recruiters and colleges do background research respectively before offering jobs and admission. Your future spouse may spy on your social media activities before getting into a relationship. So, be careful and safe on social media, and learn to use privacy settings.

Dangers to Physical Health

#9 Low-Quality Sleep

Quality of sleep is very important as far as health. Besides good quality food and exercise, sleep is the most important part of health. Low quality of sleep is associated with increased risks of heart disease.

Scrolling social media before bedtime is a common habit among many people. Using social media negatively affects people’s sleep cycle. Also, the blue light that is emitted from mobile screens adversely affects the secretion of the melatonin hormone, which maintains our body’s circadian rhythm.

#10 Posture Problems

Sedentary behavior causes inactivity, i.e., less movement. Some people avoid exercising and taking food on time. The physical health of people who overuse social media is also greatly affected. This causes the following problems. Often, people are stuck scrolling social media in poor posture for a long time; this causes pain in the chest, back, wrists, etc., harming your blood circulation, muscles, bones, and immunity. Few studies have also shown social media to cause cervical spondylosis, which causes neck pain, stiff neck, bump on the neck, muscle spasms, dizziness, and headaches.

Dangers to Social Life

#11 Loneliness

Loneliness, in terms of psychology, refers to the feeling that our social needs, like having a meaningful conversation or spending quality time with friends, are not met. It is lacking in terms of both quality and quantity of social interaction with others.

Firstly, since people spend more time online, they have less time interacting with others. Also, people have a lesser urge to interact with people around them and in the community as they receive and seek friends on social media.

For people who are introverted and have social anxiety, they tend to start checking their social media when they are around people. Many such cases establish a relationship between social media and loneliness.

Loneliness

#12 Envy

It is a feeling of discomfort or uneasiness when people see others’ possessions like beauty, health, property, etc. It is very common among people, starting with social comparison and accompanied by disgust and anxiety.

Social media users are very likely to get envious of other people. Most people only post the best moments of their lives on social media, the happy and fun parts of their lives, big achievements, etc. These types of posts are meant to depict glossy pictures of people’s lives, which make others think that their lives are not good.

There is also an anti-social quality among people to make others envious by showing their best things. Thus, they target posts and succeed in causing jealousy. But this is neither good for the person who posts nor for one who sees such posts on their feeds. A tug of war starts, which can make others more jealous of themselves. People thus often do unnecessary things to make others envy by wasting time and money.

#13 Low Self-Esteem

It refers to judging oneself too critically in comparison to others. A feeling of inferiority accompanies it regarding being and our resources compared to our peers. With low self-esteem, people may have difficulty cop with society.

Social media is seen to affect self-esteem negatively. Young people, in particular, judge each other and themselves harshly at times, all thanks to their obsession and relationship with social media. People often tend to undervalue their achievements and overvalue others’ victories. This leads to anxiety and low confidence.

#14 Less Time for Other Activities

Once people join a social media platform, they make online friends; they love to spend time with them and forget about their real connections. They cut themselves from social activities, forget about their hobbies, start ignoring loved ones, and escape from their responsibilities.

Dangers of Bad Content

#15 Inappropriate Content

Social media algorithms serve you the content you and your friends love to consume more and more. It learns what you watch more. If someone starts consuming inappropriate content that is not for their age group, they might be misguided. Social media monitoring is essential, especially for kids and teenagers. Every social media platform has content and community guidelines, but who cares? Only social media algorithms identify and remove content that violates their guidelines and policies.

The following content falls under inappropriate content:

  • Hate speech
  • Graphic Violence
  • Serious threat of harm
  • Nudity
  • Sexual content
  • Self-injury
  • Dangerous challenges
  • Organized crimes

Unfortunately, social media has become a place where teens accidentally get exposed to nudity and pornography.

#16 Deceptive Information

Misleading information, rumors, and false stories go viral on social media quickly when compared to true stories. Social media users are highly likely to see misinformation and fake news stories.

Many damaging and acute results have been noticed in the past from the spread of inaccurate information. In this situation, people fail to make the right decisions about finance, investment, purchases, and health.

#17 Scams

Social media can have a positive side, but skyrocketing scams are not hidden from us. Being skeptical while using the Internet is not regrettable.

Many frauds have cheated thousands of people through doing business, investment schemes, online shopping websites, get-rich-quick schemes, skill course scams, work-at-home scams, and debt-relief scams.

Romance scams are also trending. A scammer creates a fake account to start an online relationship. Next, make you an emotional fool to get money and never come online again.

Sometimes, scammers have also been spotted creating fake accounts in your friend’s name and asking for money to do their urgent help.

So, never trust someone online. Confirm everything personally or on a phone call.

#18 Risk-taking Behaviors

One of the risks of social media use has become normalizing risk-taking behavior. This can be related to wasting money to show off, dangerous stunts, risky pranks, life-threatening challenges, gambling, sexual activities, and criminal offenses.

Symptoms That Social Media Is Affecting You Badly

Although people who are addicted to social media or overuse it seem normal, it is not the case. They are highly likely to be suffering from any of the above-mentioned problems, like anxiety, depression, etc. But how do you identify which problem they are having? Thus, we have found some broad symptoms that you can use as a marker that social media is affecting you adversely.

To do so, you need to address the questions that are put here against the symptoms. If the answer to any of these is a YES, then you have the symptom that is written in bold at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Preoccupation: Are you always thinking of nothing else but social media posts and stuff related to it?
  • Tolerance: Do you feel uncomfortable about not being able to spend much time on social media?
  • Persistence: Are you in the loop of repeatedly failing and finding it hard to give up social media?
  • Displacement: Are you consistently ignoring your kiths and kins to occupy yourself on social media?
  • Problem: Are you troubled or have verbal fights with others because of your social media usage?
  • Deception: Do you lie to people about social media usage or your time using such apps?
  • Escape: Do you feel unwell and experience a mood shift when considering taking a break from social media?
  • Conflict: Have you had any fights or conflicts with your family and friends regarding the overuse of social media?
  • Eating disorder: Do you skip meals because of social media obsession?

How To Avoid The Dangers Of Social Media

The only ways social media dangers can be avoided is by either reducing/eliminating its usage or putting it to use positively. Further, the potential risks of social media may be avoided by making efforts at the individual and community levels. Let’s discuss them in detail one by one.

How to avoid the dangers of social media

#1 Setting Concrete Goals

It is a common saying that things that can’t be quantified can’t be tracked. Thus, setting concrete goals to use social media less in your routine life is important. You must set a daily social media usage quota of 10 to 30 minutes. This gives clarity to our mind about what it has to do, thus making it easier for us to achieve goals.

#2 Use Software to Assist

Many companies, knowing the increasing demand among people to control social media usage, have developed apps. A few famous ones are AppBlock, Freedom, and Flipd. These apps can be used to control your own and your children’s social media usage. They block or restrict access to sites and apps, thus helping to focus more on our work and social interaction.

#3 Take Help from Friends

If you feel the constant need to check social media apps, you can check your habit by getting help from your family and friends. Social support will help you get out of this. Ask your friends to update you regarding the most important updates in your friend circle. You can use the same method for other things.

#4 Remove Social Media Apps from Home Screen

If something is more visible to you, then you are more likely to be triggered by that thing. The same is true with social media apps. If they are on your home screen, your mind will get triggered to use them. So, it’s better if you put them in a place in your mobile home interface, and you have to make an effort to open them.

#5 Find Alternative Leisures

Social media is not the only source of entertainment, so maybe it’s time to find another one. You should start going outside to parks, entertainment zones, movies, cafes, etc. Focus more on taking pleasure from physical and real-world things rather than the virtual world.

#6 Hold Yourself Accountable

Keep a check on your social media usage and track it through apps like Screen Time. Whenever you see you are overusing social media, punish yourself with things like no social media usage for a day. Similarly, award yourself when you achieve the target you set.

These are the simplest ways you can use to avoid the potential dangers and negative effects of social media. Now, let us look at ways you can mitigate social media’s dangers by using them positively.

#7 Be Productive on Social Media

Active use of social media involves using them for actionable purposes and needs, like Business and personal communication. Active usage ensures that your time on social media is worthwhile and productive.

Similarly, you must avoid social media for passive purposes like consuming worthless content on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Passive use mostly makes you a listener or consumer of content, which can also be potentially harmful to you.

#8 Be Authentic on Social Media

You must use social media in an authentic manner by projecting only your real life on it. What happens is that many people are busy making their social media profiles look like they are living the best moments of their lives every day, which is fundamentally false. These things are done mostly to gain social validation, which can also lead to psychological problems. Thus, be real, make real friends, and avoid being a cyber zombie stuck in the virtual world.

Conclusion

This article has discussed all the major dangers social media users may face. These involve things like anxiety, stress, depression, etc. Further, we have also discussed the symptoms that indicate you are negatively affected by social media.

Finally, we have mentioned the various tips, tricks, and techniques you can employ to control the dangers of social media. If this article helped, kindly consider sharing it with your friends who may also need to be aware of this.

If you have any thoughts or queries you can put them in the comment section, I would be happy to reply.

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