Why Social Media is like Junk Food

We live in a world where tech companies make apps that are intentionally addictive, and prey upon the human desire to be liked. Stop falling for the “junk food” of the internet, and take control.
For years, our founder has been speaking out about the impact of social media on the developing minds of children and teens (and adults too!).
It’s never too late to improve your family’s use of tech and social media. So chew on this…

Imagine that social media is like a tub of fudgy, chocolate ice cream that you dig into late at night after a long day. Yes, it can be wonderful as a treat here and there, but if not eaten in moderation, it can become an unhealhty habit and create problems.

Social media is the “Junk Food of Social Life” that you can think of as having high calories but low nutrition. Most of us are starved for a neuropeptide called oxytocin, the naturally occurring chemical in our brains that bonds people together. Oxytocin procudes that warm and fuzzy feeling you get with people you love and care for. Research shows it can lower stress, anxiety, and depression. However, you get almost no oxytocin when you don’t have eye contact or physical touch. And that’s exactly what is missing in social media interactions.

Since social media is depriving you of oxytocin, you are not being satiated. Hence, you begin to crave it more and more. So you use social media to try to connect, but to no avail it is unsatisfying. When someone uses too much social media, it can lead to overuse. It’s like eating a bag of gummy bears and wondering why you are hungry again 30 minutes later. You probably don’t feel satiated, maybe even have a stomach ache, and you’re definitley not gaining the proper nutrition. That’s because social media lacks all the benefits of face-to-face interactions.

Here are some tips for avoiding the “Junk Food” trap of social media:

  • If you are going to use social media, make sure it compliments your social life. Never ever substitute in-person connections. Make sure you and your kids are seeing friends face-to-face as much as possible!
  • Use it sparingly. A total of 30 minutes per day across all platforms is enough. Use the “Screentime” and “App Limit” settings on your phone to create limits for yourself and your kids.
  • Try a social media detox – especially on the weekends.
  • Purge the negativity on social platforms! What we consume, even digitally, can cause health problems. Unfollow what does not nourish you. Ask your kids which accounts they follow promote “drama” or make them feel bad about themselves. Then ask them to unfollow those accounts.
Choose at least one small change to make to your social media habits, and stick with it. Just like you wouldn’t regret saying no to a Big Mac, you will definitely not regret less social media junk food in your life.
Here’s to Your Well Being!

Taylor Pickrell, LAC, NCC
Licensed Therapist