On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Professor Marcus Stallworth of UConn’s School of Social Work and Welcome 2 Reality, LLC hosted the webinar “Social Media Use And Its Impact On Wellbeing,” which was open to UConn students of all majors and schools. The event took place on WebEx and consisted of a combination of Stallworth’s lecture, as well as a Q&A discussion with student attendees.
The webinar provided a unique perspective on both the pros and cons of social media, and examined various topics regarding technology, relationships and mental and physical health, as well as their connections to an increase of social media use in the past few years. Additionally, an important objective of the webinar was to examine the lack of parental control when it comes to limiting internet access to children, and to provide tips and suggestions on how to ensure children’s safety and protect them from inappropriate content online.
Stallworth made sure to highlight the negative impacts of social media use, such as the impact of technology and screen time on our physical health, its harmful effects on self-esteem and self-development, its influence on relationships and its potential dangers to child development. It was mentioned that children may spend an average of seven hours on social media per day — that number becomes even more terrifying when you realize the vast majority of this time is spent on mindless, unhelpful or even harmful information.
Stallworth’s main piece of advice regarding healthy usage of social media is to turn your notifications off, at least during the times you are busy with work, school or sleep. Limiting and controlling the time you allow yourself to spend on social media is another useful strategy.
“if you’re having a conversation in-person and you catch yourself looking at your phone, [it] may be an indication that your phone plays a lot more important role in your life than your in-person relationships.”Prof. Marcus Stallworth
“It may be advantageous for some to dedicate specific times for recreational use of your phone,” Stallworth said. “Some of the signs of a phone addiction, unfortunately, became societal norms.”
However, there are specific indicators of when excessive phone use may become an actual problem.
“If you’re having a conversation in-person and you catch yourself looking at your phone, [it] may be an indication that your phone plays a more important role in your life than your in-person relationships,” Stallworth said.
Sharing information online and capturing every moment of one’s daily life has become such a big part of our existence, but it also negatively affects people’s self-esteem. It is not uncommon for us to assume others’ opinions based on how much attention we get on social media through likes, retweets, etc. You also cannot forget about issues like cyberbullying and internet fights, which are both examples of social media’s negative impact on mental health.
However, it is equally important to remember the positive components there are to social media: The ability to communicate with people when they are not physically close to you, the creation of global networks and communities and the chance to find people with common interests and ideas all over the world. According to Stallworth, the key takeaway is that “it all comes down to finding a healthy balance” when attempting to develop conscious social-media-using skills and reduce its negative effects.