The spread of thecoronavirus has forced many jobs and everyday activities to transition to virtual. It started as a good idea to decrease the spread of the virus but is it helping in other areas, such as our mental health?
The overconsumption of social media, zoom and virtual conferences is not only draining us from in-person social activities but it is also playing a part on how we feel about life in general. Before COVID, there were studies done to show how much surfing the web was consuming our everyday life. Social media was primarily used for everything from venting and advertising to consumer consumption. It can be a great stress reliever but also contribute to a declining mental health state.
A study published in the journal Computers and Human Behaviour found that people who report using seven or more social media platforms were more than three times as likely as people using two or fewer platforms to have high levels of anxiety.
Once you have a better sense of your media-viewing cues, you have the opportunity to respond in a different way. You can think about the thoughts and feelings that are triggering your behavior and try to find a way to address those underlying needs. Although people often find that media exposure makes them feel angry, sad or anxious, they will also use social media to try to avoid the same sorts of feelings.
Gen Z and Millennials are constantly absorbing social media. Students all over are using Zoom to make up for in-person lectures. It can be exhausting and frustrating trying to absorb information from behind a computer screen, not to mention going into thousands of dollars of debt while taking in the world digitally.
Tera Williams, a third-year psychology major at FAMU, says she feels drained from everything being online.
“I feel very disconnected from the real world,” Williams said. “Being out and around others is a part of human nature. I feel like I’m losing part of the human experience by looking at life through a computer screen.”
As states start to open back up, some people are anxious, relieved or terrified to go back out and socialize. The media reports on the pandemic have had a crippling effect on how people socialize in public. Studies show that before the pandemic noted people were calling social media an “addiction.”
The SAGE Handbook of Digital Technology Research says the internet contributes to detrimental mental disorders.
“Mental health specialists also warn that for many individuals, the overuse of the internet serves as a maladaptive coping strategy for alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety and boredom, and thus internet addiction seems to be a manifestation of another mental disorder rather than a diagnostic category of its own,” the publication reported.
With this in mind, therapists and psychologist will have to discover new strategies to help patients cope with the lasting effects of the digital age. The normal we knew before the spread of COVID-19 is long gone, but there is a chance for a new, refreshing normal.