Residents spend more than eight and a half hours on the internet every day, nearly two hours more than the global average
Psychologists in the UAE say that real-world human interactions alleviate stress and make people feel happier, healthier, and more positive while spending hours on social media on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp could trigger a feeling of inadequacy.
They warned that excessive use of social media leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction and envy as people spending a lot of time browsing through their social media end up feeling as though their life or appearance does not compare favourably with that of others on social media.
Since human beings are social creatures that require the companionship of others to thrive in life, Dr Adnan Ahmadiazad, specialist in psychiatry, Thumbay Hospital Ajman and Thumbay University Hospital, says the strength of people’s connections has a huge impact on their mental health and happiness.
“Being socially connected to others can ease stress, anxiety, and depression, boost self-worth, provide comfort and joy, prevent loneliness, and even add years to your life,” says Dr Ahmadiazad.
According to a report issued by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), UAE residents spend more than eight and a half hours on the internet every day, nearly two hours more than the global average. While around four hours are spent on personal computers and 4.35 hours on smartphones. This is the 10th highest worldwide across all devices.
Global surveys have found that excessive use of social media and the Internet could lead to adverse impacts on sleep, especially in children.
Tips to protect mental health from online/social media effects:
- Take a social media break
- Monitor screen time
- Set work-life boundaries
- No electronic devices in the bedroom
- Prioritise self-care
- Nurture face-to-face relationships
- Casually meet friends/family on the weekend
The Iranian psychologist added that there is growing evidence of side effects of excessive screen time on both adults and children.
Dr Ahmadiazad warned that people who spend a lot of time browsing through their social media end up feeling as though their life or appearance does not compare favourably with that of others on social media, leading to feelings of envy and dissatisfaction.
“This technology that’s designed to bring people closer together can actually make people feel more lonely and isolated—and exacerbate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression if social media engagement is replaced for real-world human interactions. One needs to remember that real-world human connections trigger hormones that alleviate stress and make people feel happier, healthier, and more positive.”
Dr Ahmadiazad said fear of discrimination and the stigma around the subject are some of the main reasons people don’t talk about their mental health problems. “Looking for mental health sooner is the best way to increase the quality of life and preventing to worsen the mental health conditions,” he said.