Social media is a double-edged sword.
Social media can be a great thing because it allows us to stay connected to the world. On the flip side, social media can be problematic because it allows us to stay connected to the world.
Yes, you read that right. The very thing that makes these platforms so much fun also means that they can become a source of stress and worry.
When we see families in our Facebook Group for TIP parents sharing social distancing stories and online resources with one another, it warms our hearts. And when we see videos of friends and family, it makes us feel like we’re together, even though we can’t be right now.
While using social media, we can also find on ourselves lost in a sea of news stories, scientific reports, predictions, opinions…the list goes on. You may have gone there to relieve stress and feel connected, but sometimes you end up feeling more worried about what’s happening in the world.
If you feel as though your social media use is causing you extra stress during these times, the first thing you should do is talk to a parent or trusted adult in your life about it. But there are things you can do to keep it from getting to that point.
A healthy balance
In the days of social distancing, when alternatives to scrolling through your feed seem to have dwindled, it’s important to be proactive in finding time for other kinds of activities too. Reserve some of your free time for getting outside (if the weather is nice) or playing board games with your family.
If you have trouble remembering to do this, consider writing out a schedule for yourself. If you’re like me, you can start scrolling, and before you know it, a whole hour has gotten away from you. Remember, it’s not that spending time on social media is bad on its own; it’s about finding that healthy balance to ensure it’s not consuming all your time.
When in doubt, write it out
There’s no way around it: the world is looking a little scarier than usual right now. And recognizing the problems we face is an important part of addressing them. But there comes a point when a constructive exercise of understanding the issues leads to unproductive stress and worry.
As you see stories come up in your feed about COVID-19—whether they’re about the number of people who are sick, the symptoms, or the challenges it poses to our country’s leaders and experts—write down (or type up) all of the concerns that pop into your head. Write them out clearly and honestly. Then, share them with someone you trust. Sit down together, and go down the list one by one, answering these questions:
- What is the problem here that I’m worried about?
- How does this affect me and my community?
- What is being done to help make the situation better?
Writing out your concerns and taking the time to investigate them more deeply with a trusted friend or family member are useful for a few reasons.
It allows you to share your concerns with someone else—you’re not alone in feeling scared. It gives you the chance to fully understand the situation—maybe there was something you misunderstood at first. It lets you put this into context—yes, this is scary, but perhaps it won’t change my daily life too much. And lastly, it allows you to see how our world is coming together to help people and to solve these complex problems.
At Duke TIP, we envision a future where academically talented students like our TIPsters transform their communities and the world for the better. We get excited when we see our students flourishing and doing big things, but beyond that, we want our students to feel safe, happy, and optimistic. These social media tips are just a small part of looking after ourselves during social distancing.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.