MANILA -- Actress Isabelle Daza tackles the effect of social media on mental health in a three-part series on her Instagram TV page.
The first part of her interview with psychologist Richthofen de Jesus discussed the reality of phone addiction today, particularly among Filipinos.
He noted that many people could not let go of their gadgets because of the convenience they bring, from delivering news and providing entertainment to allowing them to connect with their friends and the people they look up to.
"In psychology, there is what we call screen exposure addiction. And this happens with people who just can't let go of their gadgets," De Jesus explained. "And I don't blame them because primarily, from a biological perspective, we have a part of our brain that is called the limbic system that gets a little bit stimulated. Dopamine is the chemical that it releases, and because of that sudden surge of happy hormones we then feel so relieved, so happy about what we do, so reinforced of our action that we try to repeat it as much as we could."
He went on: "That's why if you will look at it, it has become a habit now that whenever we have free time, the first thing that we will do is to go to our phones or laptops and check the Internet."
According to De Jesus, many people turn to smartphones as these give them "a protective barrier against a very sudden or very intensive reaction that you might get from other people if you're talking to them personally."
But social media and vlogs can also promote a sense of validation and "one-upmanship," which could eventually harm one's mental health.
"For example, a lot of people will have what we call 'vacation goals' or 'travel goals.' And whenever they post those travel goals on Facebook, those people who are reading about it then start to question what they have. They say, 'Okay, I'm the same age as him. I haven't been to that place. What's wrong with me?' So it then starts a cycle of self-doubt. And then from there, if the person's psychological health is a little bit unstable, the problem starts," he said.
"So you now become a little bit more annoyed with who you are, you don't become satisfied with what you have, and the depression will settle in. Sometimes it can be a little bit positive, it can motivate you to work a little harder. But sometimes it can also develop a lifestyle that you cannot sustain," he added.
While it may be challenging, De Jesus encouraged people to get off their phones and interact more with people.
And instead of putting up a certain facade or image, they should be more genuine with the content they share online, he said.
"It should have like, 'the motivation for me to post this is to just tell people that I enjoyed my vacation in this place,'" De Jesus said. "Whenever you need to post something, take out the idea that it has to be something palatable for others. Rather, you're going to post it because it was a part of a good experience that you had. That's it."
"Now, whenever people comment, you can read it, you can understand it, you can try to imbibe it if you want. But at the end of the day, this is what you tell, 'I do not have any control on what they think. It's their opinion. At the end of the day, it is me who knows the truth about who I am, and that is what I'm going to believe in. If other people say, 'You don't look good,' 'It doesn't match you who are,' at the end of the day it's you who has the real feeling about what you posted. And that's what is more important that you need to hang on to," he ended.