The Power of Connection: Social Media and its Impact

mclain-newDr. Melissa McLain speaks on the impact social media and technology now have on our every day lives and the choices and discussions you can have with yourself, your loved ones, or your clients to ensure these outlets are being utilized for positive benefits as opposed to negative results. 

For some, technology is the first thing they check when they wake up, and the last thing they do before bed. Over the last few years, we have become a society attached to our devices. Recent data on this topic shows that some people are checking their technology, most notably their social media pages, more than 10 times a day while some are spending hours in this pursuit.

When it comes to social media, we are all still trying to keep up, including the field of eating disorders. Unfortunately, some research is showing that use of social media is increasingly correlated with depressive symptoms as a result of the inherent issues of acceptance, competition, and attention that present themselves in this domain (Chicago Tribune, 2013). Women working on recovery from body and food issues frequently mention comparing themselves to others, feeling inferior and having increased body image concerns as a result of their social media usage.

However, at Oliver-Pyatt Centers we are invested in helping our women develop a healthy and mindful relationship with their technology, just as they are working on a relationship with food and their bodies. When spending time on social media, comparing to others can result in feelings of inferiority and dissatisfaction, while spending time connecting with others can result in new and improved relationships and increased positive feelings. Monet Eliastam’s quote below captures this idea beautifully.

Imagine if social media became a place where we shared our dreams instead of hiding our faults, where we collaborated in conversation instead of trolling anonymously, where we felt included instead of excluded. We need to reinvent the online community to cultivate a safer, more diverse, more welcoming environment where we value people for generating thoughts, not likes… We have an incredible tool in our hands, we need to use it to change the world.

So, let’s embrace the world of technology and the interfaces that social provides us. The fact that you are reading this blog right now suggests you are looking for positive ways to spend your time and energy online. Thanks for doing so and share your positive experiences both on and offline with those you love.

JoinDr. Melissa McLain and Oliver-Pyatt Centers at the upcoming symposium, ‘Emerging Clinical Challenges in the Treatment of Children and Adolescents’, hosted by the University Medical Center of Princeton University and the Princeton Healthcare System. Dr. McLain, along with a host of other esteemed and knowledgeable speakers, will be presenting on “The Power of Connection: Social Media and its Impact on Neurobiology in the Adolescent Brain.” Register here by October 15th.