Do you ever compare yourself to others on social media? You are not alone! With the growing popularity of social media, many teens and young adults feel pressure to look perfect in pictures and carefully craft their social media feeds to show only the best or “Insta-worthy” moments. It is easy to compare yourself to others, especially when everyone on social media seems to live carefree, adventurous, and attractive lives. But how does this make you feel about yourself?

Many teens and young adults may feel lonely, anxious, jealous, less than, or depressed when they spend a lot of time on social media. In fact, there is a term called “duck syndrome,” which describes the way a duck appears to glide across a pond so easily while their feet work vigorously underwater, masking their struggle to stay afloat.  Many people may try to present their best selves to others on social media, but may be struggling on the inside. Teens may also experience “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out), anxiety about missing out on exciting or interesting events, when they see other people’s social feeds. For these reasons, many experts are concerned that social media may hurt teens’ self-esteem.

So how can you protect your self-esteem when using social media? Here are some suggestions you can try.

  • Take time for self-care. Monitor how much time you are spending on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) and try to set a time limit. Set aside time to do other activities that do not involve electronics.
  • Spend quality time with friends and family. Look for more connections in person and less time on social media. Remember that even a short amount of time spent with a genuine friend in person can make you feel much better than time with an online stranger.
  • Shift your focus. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with a sense of negativity or not feeling good enough as you look through social feeds, you may want to reconsider your use of social media. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through other people’s photos or feeds, try to be mindful of your own surroundings and positive aspects of your reality.
  • Redesign the purpose of social media use. Instead of following acquaintances or celebrities whose feeds give you FOMO or “not good enough” feelings, you can follow educational, inspirational, or support group accounts to see more uplifting quotes, pictures, or content.
  • Recognize the limits of other people’s appearances. Picture-perfect posts do not make someone more important or worthy. There are many photo editing apps or filters that people use before uploading feeds on social media. Most people don’t look like that in real life. Try to remember that appearances are just appearances.
  • Know and embrace yourself. Everyone has a unique story to tell. You have your own story that you can share with others. To do this, it is important to know who you are, including your strengths and weaknesses, and come to embrace your uniqueness.

If you continue to experience feeling down about yourself or have low self-esteem, be sure to talk to your health care provider.