During this pandemic, most of us spend a significant time alone and away from family and friends, and the internet has been our only connection to much of the outside world.
"So many of us use social media as a way to fill our time or pass time and that's not a really healthy way for us to spend our time," said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Paula Durlofsky.
She says social media itself is not the problem, but how we use it. For those who struggle with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or body image issues, social media can magnify symptoms when comparing yourself to others online.
"When we become harsh and critical, we really are unable to figure out what to do. And it just makes us feel worse," she explained.
Because of this pandemic, we're at home and on social media now more than ever.
According to Pew Research Center, people spent an average of 10 hours per day in front of their screens in 2020 with three hours on social media alone. That's up from two and a half hours in 2019.
So, Durlofsky recommends finding other self-care practices instead.
"Calling a friend or doing something creative like knitting or writing or drawing is going to recharge our souls. And really that is the best use of our time," she suggests.
Just like you schedule time to exercise or cook dinner, she says to schedule your social media check-in times, too.
So how much time online is healthy?
"In my experience, I don't think spending beyond 15 minutes per check-in three to four times a day is really going to put us in a good place," she said.
Durlofsky also says to be aware of how you're feeling before even getting on social media. If you're feeling down, don't do it.
"Stepping away from social media is a form of self-care, self-love, and self-protection. That's a really good thing," she said.
But what do you do if you're still feeling lonely even when connecting online?
"Prioritizing our in real-life relationships over our virtual relationships is key for feeling connected," she recommended.
Looking for other healthy social media tips?
Don't sleep next to your phone. Put it in another room so you can disconnect.
If you have a virtual conflict and regret a message you've posted?
Durlofsky says acknowledge and apologize as soon as possible, both on the public post and in a private message with the person involved.
Durlofsky's book "Logged In and Stressed Out: How Social Media is Affecting Your Mental Health" can be helpful, too.
If you're interested, click here: https://drpauladurlofsky.com/