03/07/2016 3:56 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:56 PM AEST

How Facebook Is Making Us Fearful

Perhaps you need a digital media detox for your mental and physical well-being.

Logging onto social media is messing with many of us.

It's been well-documented that humans love dopamine. The release of dopamine into our brains is triggered by anything and everything that gives us pleasure or feels like a reward. Such as, logging onto Facebook and seeing 11 people have liked your unflattering selfie on an isolated Wheatbelt farm, a rare storm cloud over your left shoulder.

But, more often than not, logging onto social media is messing with many of us. It's a digital dopamine and experts say we are feeding into it due to our utter reliance on social media; as if it were a drug.

"It's a drug that feeds the ego of the self, the ego of me. From breaking news, to information about parenting, friends' activities, work and shopping: social media is a closed digital ecosystem of existence," said Michelle Newton, consumer trend expert.

"Social media is all about the ego of self, regardless if the green eyed monster is rearing its ugly head as you watch friends gallivanting around central park in the heat of New York summer, whilst on the other side of the world you search for the Ugg boots with the holes in the toes. Or if the Ugg boot is on the other foot and it is your turn to shine in a mini moment of Facebook fame."

It's a digital drug that most adults can handle – up to a point – but when it comes to tweens and teens, social media can take its toll in the worst possible way.

"Unfriending people, in the worst cases, can lead to suicide. When you have young teens and tweens whose brains are rapidly developing, social media bullying or outright rejection is more than making them fearful. It is also downright dangerous to their formative years and sense of self-esteem."

Getty Images/iStockphoto
It's not unsual for tweens and teens to experience extreme anxiety and fear when it comes to social media.

According to a Nielson Report commissioned by Facebook in January 2016, the average time Australians spend on Facebook every day is 1.7 hours. It's estimated people check the platform about 14 times a day.

Business coach and mentor Nikki Fogden-Moore encourages people to self-regulate and detox from digital media.

"Think of it as a way to recharge your batteries. If we don't not fully recharge, we diminish our energy levels, and our ability to handle stress and perform daily tasks. So why not log off, lace up your shoes, head out the door or jump up and get talking to your family or a colleague? Sometimes you need to disconnect to reconnect," Fogden-Moore said.

"Taking regular nano-breaks away from your laptop, phone, tablet and TV can rapidly produce great results in just a few minutes a day every day."

Nikki Fogden-Moore
Nikki Fogden-Moore

Michelle Newton told The Huffington Post Australia as technology races ahead, the line between what is real and not, what is digital and what is physical, will blur further and further.

"The question to ask is how can we help people self-regulate these emotions and draw a line in the sand about what is and isn't important on social media? If we are aware that everyone is in this for the same end game, the ego of the self, then that can be a helpful lens in which to view this rapidly growing space," Newton said.

"Our experience on social media is a very introspective one, be it positive or negative. That experience can change moment to moment, as we swing from fear of missing out (FOMO) to the joy of over receiving over 20 likes."

Fogden-Moore's Social Media Detox Tips

During the day:

  • Place a sticky note on your computer reminding you to take regular breaks.
  • Stay off social media in the morning on the way to work - listen to music, a podcast or read an actual book instead.
  • Take a fresh air break at lunch time, rather than eating lunch with your phone or iPad in front of you.
  • Look up, look around - head out for a quick break around the office, take the dog for a walk, do something active with your kids during the weekend.

At nighttime:

  • Avoid TV, illuminated alarm clocks and other digital stimulus in the bedroom.
  • Read a book before you go to sleep, rather than watching television or working late on the computer. Meditate and concentrate on breathing.
  • Create a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep-wake schedule.
  • Create a restful environment that is dark, cool and comfortable.
  • Keep a diary of things that are on your mind, get them out of your head and on to paper - even if it's a list of things to do for the next day.