In today’s society, millennials’ self esteem is greatly impacted by their use of social media. Some of us struggle with low self-esteem because often times our self-esteem is dependent on various factors including physical appearance, approval of others, co-dependent relationships, body image, etc.
Before we explore any further, let's look at what is self-esteem? “Self-esteem reflects a person's overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude towards the self” (Singh & Pathak, 2017).
Millennials’ self worth often becomes dependant on constant and numerous “recognition” or “praise” by others on social media. Excessive use of Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook leads to feelings of low self-worth, as millennials base their worth on the number of likes and followers, and other people’s comments. Their self-esteem increases with the number of likes and followers. Also, “if millenials receive likes or comments from high status friends this may result in boosts in self-esteem and feelings of well-being” (Blease, 2015).
The desire to constantly post online and subsequent expectation of praise may lead to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Research shows that millennials often experience mental health concerns and suicidal thoughts due to excessive social media screen time (Twenge, Joiner, Rogers, & Martin, 2017). As a result of excessive screen time, people often tend to compare their lives to others and feel poorly about themselves, their self-worth, and their self-image. Schufreider (2015) states that people may compare themselves on many aspects on Facebook including physical appearance, designer clothing, love life, or one’s social life.
What can we do to prevent such co-dependant relationship to boost our self-esteem?
Be mindful of the screen time being spent on social media. Research shows that millenials spent approximately 9 hours on a daily basis (Wallace, 2015). Be mindful of the moment you start comparing yourself to your peers, and try to put away your phone rather than scrolling through their pictures. Try to be mindful of your thoughts, notice if there is negative self-talk, or feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger or jealousy. Focus on the triggers that impact your self-esteem through the use of social media. Try to engage in positive self-talk rather than being self-critical, which may help in improving your self-esteem.
Blease, C. R. (2015). Too many friends, Too few likes? Evolutionary psychology and Facebook depression. Review of General Psychology, 19(1), 1-13.
Gallagher, Shannon Murphy (2017). Thee influence of social media on teens' self-esteem.
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Schufreider, M. Mary. (2015). Relationship of Facebook usage and Facebook belongingness to emerging adulthood's self-esteem and social identity. Master's thesis, Northern Illinois University, 2 (15), 1-61.
Singh, R. N. & Pathak, N. (2017). Effects of self-esteem on suicidal ideation among adolescents. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, 4(4), 60-68.
Twenge, M. J., Joiner, E. T., Rogers, L. M., & Martin, N., G. (2017). Increase in depressive symptoms, suicide related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3 –17.