Consumer Reports: Tips to balance social media with mental health

Published: Nov. 29, 2020 at 5:13 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2020 at 5:17 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - With politics and a global pandemic, some days it’s hard to avoid what’s called “doom scrolling.” That’s when you just can’t stop looking at social media, even when it’s upsetting to you.

Not surprisingly, psychologists say it can affect your mood and your mental health. But according to Consumer Reports, social media doesn’t have to be this way.

“So you actually have some control over what kinds of posts you see on social media. This isn’t about blocking out the world and pretending that nothing wrong is happening. It’s about taking back control and deciding when you want to interact with this kind of content and doing so on your own terms,” said Thomas Germain, technology writer for ConsumerReports.Org.

The Consumer Reports website provides detailed instructions for filtering hate speech, hoaxes and violence out of your social feeds.

For example, you can unfollow someone, or even “snooze” them for a 30-day break by clicking on the three dots at the top right of their post. Or you can click “hide post” so Facebook learns what kind of content you don’t want to see.

Using those same three dots, you can also report abusive content or spam. Twitter and Instagram have menus on the top right that allow you to do some of the same things.

“The psychologist that I spoke to said this is actually a really important step for people to take to limit the sorts of things that they’re interacting with online as a sort or balm for your mental health,” said Germain.

Although social media companies have policies to curb hate speech and misinformation, consumers say they’re still seeing it, “which is why it’s important for you to take steps yourself to make sure you’re not being exposed to things on the internet that you don’t want to see,” says Germain.

CR says there’s one other way to avoid social posts that may get your blood boiling: Sort your feed chronologically instead of how the algorithm thinks it’s most likely to get your attention.

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