Social media can help us feel more connected to our friends, even when we’re far away. But, for many of us, the culture of of oversharing and #humblebragging can have a serious impact on our self-esteem.
With 10 million new photographs uploaded to Facebook every hour, experts say social media is a mine of endless potential for young people to be drawn into appearance-based comparisons. Instagram has been recently ranked worst for young people’s mental health, and causes feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
In the age of ubiquitous social media, how can we protect ourselves online when our use of social media is directly impacting on our self-esteem?
Create a self-appreciation folder on your phone
Student Issie Lakin, 17, says that constantly looking at “beautiful women with ‘perfect’ bodies, curves, expensive clothing and constant travelling” has had a definite impact on the way she views herself. This constant comparison to other people on Instagram is damaging, she says, so she tries to remind herself of the positive things in her life.”The best coping strategy for me was acceptance and looking at motivational images and daily reminders to remind myself of how much I have achieved,” says Lakin.
“Cheesy as it sounds, a thing for me to do was to look up self-motivation and appreciation quotes, downloading them onto my phone and putting them into a folder. Whenever I have a bad day I look at the folder,” she says.
Delete the apps from your phone
You don’t need to delete your actual accounts, but deleting the apps from your phone can help with the urge to constantly check these platforms. If you find that checking Instagram is sending you into a spiral of negative thoughts, deleting the apps even if for a short period of time could give you the distance you need.
Avoid Instagram’s ‘Explore’ tab
Some people find Instagram’s “Explore” tab to be full of photographs and videos that make them feel bad about themselves. Steering clear of it can prevent you from encountering photos that you don’t need to see and that wouldn’t ordinarily appear in your timeline.
Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad
Jenny Rae, a 25-year-old blogger who’s currently “flashpacking” in southeast Asia, says social media has harmed her self-esteem in the past and she often feels insecure when comparing herself to others.”I protect myself online by attempting to consume social media mindfully. Someone once advised me to unfollow any accounts that made you feel negative in any way, and only follow ones that inspire you or make you feel good,” says Rae.
Impose a limit on your social media usage
Integrative psychotherapist says the main challenge for many people is that social media triggers the tendency to compare oneself to others. Burke says that “a certain amount” of comparing oneself to others is “part of human nature.” She recommends imposing limits on how much time you spend on social media per day. She says that limit often affords people the space to focus on building their own confidence. Some people only check Facebook during their working day, and keep their free time strictly Facebook-free. Others limit their Instagram activity to when they’re on holiday.
Turn off your push notifications
Social media is invasive, and a constant stream of push notifications can draw us into apps that are toxic for our self-esteem. Some people turn off their push notifications so that their phone isn’t constantly tempting them to enter those apps.
Talk to someone
If social media is getting to be too much, try talking to someone about how you’re feeling. is a free anonymous and confidential online text chat and you can talk to trained listeners and online therapists who will listen to you.