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Social media has been getting a bad reputation lately- and hey, it’s easy to see why when you look at the recent data and research coming to light. Research published in 2019 by the American Psychological Association found a drastic increase in the number of young people who experienced negative psychological symptoms, including major depression, psychological distress, suicidal thoughts or attempts after 2010, compared with the first decade of the 2000’s. Jean M. Twenge, the leading psychologist on the study said that though signs point to cultural factors as the culprit behind this shift, further studies will be needed to pinpoint exactly how social media is causing these negative effects.

Other studies, like those done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, have pointed out the potentially harmful effects of social media such as anxiety, ADHD, depression, paranoia, loneliness, and body dysmorphia. These are serious issues that many people face in our modern world. Luckily there is more light being shined on healthy social media practices and programs in place for folks to get help. However, the fear and trepidation surrounding social media still remains. With all of this data and negative news coming out about social media, it may be difficult to remember why we even liked it in the first place. Where did the good in social media go?

It’s still there, I promise! It just can be difficult to see, feel, and embrace at times. That’s why it’s important to have a plan of attack so we can shine a light on the positivity that can be found in social media, apply it to our own social media usage, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. It is possible to change the trend on social media to a positive one with just a slight mental shift on how we go about using it. Here are 5 tricks to reignite your faith in social media.

1. Discover Your Social Media Limits and Respect Them!

We all have different struggles in this life which come with different “triggers” that set them off. It’s important to be aware and honest with ourselves about what aspects of social media push our limits– whether it be overly promotional sales posts that bring us stress or insecurity sparking Photoshopped selfies. Maybe it’s just staring at a screen for a certain amount of time that leads you to feel drained? There are many small aspects of social media that can add up to produce negativity in our usage of the platforms. Knowing what your triggers are and committing to a plan to avoid them is not only a great act of self-care, but will help make your social media experience more enjoyable.

2. Unfollow Social Media Accounts That Don’t Make You Feel Good

Taking our first point a step further, it’s important to understand how certain content influences our thoughts and feelings. If you follow accounts that post content which makes you feel bad about yourself, discouraged, or consistently negative– you may want to reconsider why you keep them on your following list. Just like it’s important to eat healthy food that provides good nutrition to our bodies, it’s also vital that we fill our minds with positive imagery and words that help us become better, more confident, and uplifted people. While there’s no one size-fits-all answer to ‘Which accounts make me feel poorly?’, beginning to be more mindful of the inner monologue that appears in your head when you view certain accounts is a good place to start. If you notice a negative pattern of thoughts and feelings occurring, consider unfollowing that account and finding ones that provide content that lifts your spirits.

3. Create Opportunities for Positive Social Media Experiences

Get creative with your use of social media! Did you know there are a ton of tools available to use social media in a positive way out in the real world? One example is a social media aggregator. These tools make it easy to create a fun, collaborative social media wall that displays social media posts using a signature hashtag on a screen or wall at special events. It creates the perfect opportunity to showcase supportive, congratulatory, or well wishing messages at birthday parties, weddings, or anniversaries.

4. Take 10 Minutes Per Day to Share Encouragement

When is the last time you left a positive comment on a friend’s social media post? We all enjoy getting a little note of encouragement, so try dedicating time during your day to spreading the love on social media. It feels good to give to others, and that can apply to intangible things like kind words, too. Even if others aren’t commenting on your posts, starting a chain of positivity is a great way to reignite your faith in social media.

5. Start a Social Media Group

Social media groups can be started on platforms like Facebook or Linkedin. They’re usually built around a specific idea or purpose and folks can either instantly join or request to join. There are social media groups for different careers, various hobbies, lifestyles, religions, and programs. Some social media groups remain small, with only a few members, while others grow to amass hundreds of thousands of members. Whether you’re looking for a community of like-minded individuals to befriend, or advice on a specific subject, social media groups can be incredibly helpful and empowering. If you haven’t found a social media group that inspires you, why not try creating one for yourself? It could change both yours and someone else’s life for the better.

No matter what actions you choose to take in your relationship with social media, the most important thing is to ensure that they are mindful and intentional. We are in control of how we spend our time, the accounts we follow, and the interactions we initiate and engage with on social media. Choose to spread love and positivity so we can all start to reignite our faith in the digital world.

What methods do you use to make social media a more positive space?