Many people are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic by connecting with others on social media and spending more time online. While it’s a safe way to stay in touch with loved ones when you are trying to avoid large gatherings, there can be downsides. Social media platforms have become a leading source of misinformation and family disagreements. They can also lead to unrealistic expectations.
For a caregiver who might already be struggling with isolation and stress, it can be difficult to find a healthy balance for social media use. Let’s look at the pros and cons of social media and how to tell if you might be overdoing it.
The Benefits of Staying Active on Social Media
Some benefits of participating in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels include:
- Staying informed: Social media makes it easy to keep up with your favorite organizations and groups. This is especially helpful if you are trying to limit the amount of time you spend in public or if you are a caregiver for a loved one who isn’t safe staying alone.
- Sharing with loved ones: You’ll also find platforms like Facebook to be a good avenue for connecting with and sharing news, photos, and videos with loved ones.
- Finding virtual events: The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in the number of virtual activities people can participate in. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are good places to find programs you can join.
These are just a few of the many advantages of social media. But it’s important to know about the disadvantages, too.
The Downside of Social Media
Unfortunately, the downside of social media platforms has become increasingly obvious and includes:
- Spreading misinformation on important topics, such as the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and how to protect yourself from the virus
- Arguing about politics and what is—or isn’t—credible news
- Creating unrealistic goals, from how you look to the type of house you live in
- Contributing to a sedentary lifestyle, the dangers of which are linked to as many health risks as smoking
How can you tell if your social media time is helping you feel less isolated or adding to your caregiver stress?
Here are a few tips to evaluate your social media use and see if it’s time to make adjustments.
Evaluating Social Media–Related Stress
If you are trying to assess whether your social media habits are helping you feel connected or having a negative impact on your well-being, here are a few factors to consider:
- Time involved: How much time do you spend on social media each day? Staring at your computer or device screen for too many hours can harm your eyes. Spending too much time sitting can also negatively impact your health. You might need to track your time so you can objectively evaluate the situation.
- Relationship changes: Are you fighting with friends and family you would never disagree with in person? Have your offline friendships been damaged by disagreements that started on a platform like Facebook? People often feel much freer to express their opinions online than they do in person. If you’ve seen your relationships suffer, it may be best to decrease your social media time.
- Increased anxiety: There’s no disputing that social media can be a source of anxiety and stress for many. Facebook is often the worst. Pay attention to how you feel before you log on and after you log off of social media. Is there a change? That can be key to determining if you need to take a social media break.
If you aren’t ready to give up your social media interactions but need to reduce the stress it causes, pay attention to what is making you feel uncomfortable. Are certain family members cyberbullies? Are some organizations you follow causing you stress? Choosing not to follow them on social media may help you enjoy yourself online.
Reduce Caregiver Stress by Joining an Online Support Group
Another online resource for caregivers to consider joining is an online support group. It’s a good way to connect when the person you are caring for needs constant supervision or if you are limiting the time you spend in group gatherings. How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group has tips to help you get started.