Lanre Olusola is acclaimed as Africa’s foremost Life Coach and Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist. He is the Chief Catalyst at the Olusola Lanre Coaching Academy (OLCA). He is a certified life coach with years of experience and expansive studies in the fields of Psychology, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Performance Improvement Management, Human Cognitive Behavioral Psychology, Meta Medicine, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Matrix Reimprinting. In this interview, he speaks to Funke Babs-Kufeji about the growing social media trends and how its negatively and positively impacting us all as a people and global village.
What do you think of mental health in today’s society, particularly regarding the rise of technology and most especially social media?
There has been an astronomical increase in the use of mobile phones, digital devices and technology in the last decade.
Smart and cellphone use particularly have gone up to 81% in 2019 compared to 35% in 2011.
Of all adult-aged cellphone users, those between 18 and 29 are most likely to have a mobile Internet service, studies show that approx. 9o% of this age group use smartphones and other social media platforms.
Another 80% of people aged 30-49 and 64% of people aged 50-64 are on social media.
Even one-third of adults over 65 use it, compared to just 10% in 2010.
About 97% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 have at least one Social Media account.
Since the release of smartphones and social media, mental health concerns have increased drastically among children and young adults.
The number of adolescents who reported symptoms of major depression each year increased by 52% from 2005 to 2017. From 2009 to 2017, it grew by 63% in adults ages 18 to 25.
Between 2012 and 2015, depression in boys increased by 21% and in girls by 50%.
By 2015, 92% of teens and young adults owned a smartphone.
Psychological distress monthly also grew 71% in young adults from 2008 to 2017.
The rate of suicidal thoughts in young adults increased 47%, young girls increased 65% during this same period.
Child suicide rates increased by up to 150% and self-harm by girls ages 10 to 14 nearly tripled.
So, as we see from this data, there’s a very close correlation between the increase in social media use, smartphone use, the increase in feelings of depression, mental illness and suicidal thoughts and suicide.
Though correlation doesn’t always mean causation, researchers suggest that the increase in mental illness is in part connected to the increase in social media use among young people and it is quite clear from these statistics that the technology improvement and the ease of access to Social Media has influenced the increase in mental health cases across different ages and sexes.
Social media is a major part of our daily lives, how do you think it’s impacting our mental health in positive and also in negative ways?
Though virtual interaction on social media doesn’t have the same psychological benefits as face-to-face contact, there are still many positive ways in which it can help you stay connected and support your wellbeing.
On the one hand social media especially during this Covid pandemic has made positive impact and enabled many people;
- communicate and stay up to date with loved ones around the world, find new friends and communities; network with other people who share similar interests or ambitions.
- increase sphere of influence and sense of feeling important
- join or promote worthwhile causes; raise awareness on important issues, increasing a sense of purpose.
- seek or offer emotional support during tough times.
- find an outlet for creativity and self-expression.
On the flip side based on multiple studies social media has increased the risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self harm and even suicidal thoughts.
Social media has also created the following ;
- Inadequacy, dissatisfaction and insecurity about life or appearance when comparing self with others on social media.
- Unhealthy urge to stay up to date with current trends.
. FOMO – Fear of missing out. Many feel like others are having more fun, living a better and more flamboyant life.
- Increase in loneliness and isolation as a result of high usage of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
- Depression, anxiety and stress rate have increased as a direct result of reduced physical interactions. Many people today prioritize social media interaction over in-person relationships, this increases the risk for heightening mood disorders.
- Self-absorption and self centeredness has drastically increased because more people are consumed by taking selfies and putting out all their innermost thoughts on social media.
How is one able to detect that social media is affecting their mental health?
- When you feel like you can’t do without social media or it’s gotten to the stage of addiction. Even when you say to yourself I’m going to do without checking my social
Media but you keep returning to it over and over again because you feel left out.
- When social media is your number one go to and becomes your crutch, comfort, security and self esteem/worth booster.
- When it begins to consume your time to the extent that you get distracted and can’t seem to focus on doing other things that are more important and beneficial to you.
- When your sleep time is being cut short by the extended time you spend on social media.
How long is too long to be on social media and what are the effects of using too much social media?
While Social Media addiction is not yet recognized as a mental health disorder, there’s a growing body of research that’s pointing towards the likelihood of certain people being more vulnerable to problematic social media use than others.
Research however states that more than two or three hours on your phone daily is too much, if that’s not your day job.
The following behaviors determine whether you have a problem with social media.
- It’s the first thing you check in the morning.
- You take down a post if it doesn’t reach a certain number of views, comments or likes.
- You feel angry when nobody comments on your posts.
- You overanalyze images of yourself before you post.
- You can’t go to the bathroom without your phone.
Do you think there is any solution to this growing issue of addiction to social media?
There is a solution to all problems thus there is also a solution to social media addiction, such as;
- Remove all social media apps which does not positively influence your state of well-being.
- Turn off Notifications and only go to your phone when you want to
- Place your phone out of reach for a specific amount of time each days as you focus on the more important things.
- Set your boundaries, limits and controls.
- Engage someone else to manage your social media activities, let them change your password and only grant you access at the agreed time.