Michelle Rupp: Hello and welcome into this week’s edition of AFMC TV. We’re so glad you’re joining us. So, how many of you are connected to this little thing. How many times are you scrolling? Looking at social media, getting your news alerts and what is this doing to this? Well, joining me today to answer some of these questions is Dr. Chad Rodgers. Hi Doctor Chad.

Dr. Chad Rodgers: Hi Michelle, how are you?

MR: I’m good. How are you?

CR: I’m doing great.

MR: You want to send me a text?

CR: Sure!

MR: So yes, what kind of impact is social media and even the news, even if if you’re watching the news on television, what kind of impact is all of this having on our positive mental or just on our mental health in general?

CR: Well, the truth is we’re just all getting a whole lot of it, you know, I think especially having lived through the pandemic and where we stayed at home more, we were less connected with people. We tried to reconnect through social media, and we tried to stay up to date on the latest news by watching the news. But what becomes sort of something we do to pass time becomes sort of almost like an addiction is how some people describe it, where you just have this constant need and drive to log on to social media to check your email or to look at the news or you know, we even have things that kind of pop up and prompt us throughout the day in our email, on our phone, on social media to read, to look at and so this really has become such a part of our lives now. There is a lot of good, like, I’m not here to say that there’s not like good information to be found on the phone and we all need to stay connected to what’s happening in the world, in the news and we all want to stay connected to family and friends because connection is so important as a human being and that’s what we really strive for. But it can become to the point where it’s not good and so you kind of go from the good to the bad to the ugly and we see just an increasing number of rate of, depression and anxiety, not just among adults, but among teens and even young Children because of the impact of social media, I think the biggest thing and when I’m talking to you, I’m talking to myself is that fear of missing out. Like we all live with that. Yeah, we’re all, we’re afraid we’re going to be missing an event or that we’re not having as much fun as somebody else or our life is not as great as someone else or that we need to know what’s going on in the world and we need to be connected to our jobs and we need to be needed. So we need to look and see if we have an email from somebody or we got a like on that text or someone, you know loved our Instagram photo. So, those are all like this positive reward for looking at your phone because we all want that connection. But then sometimes it can really lead you get so much of it that you don’t cut it off that it becomes really sort of like any other addiction does and it begins to wear on your psyche. And you begin to have a lot of people report a lot more anxiety because they feel like they you’re missing out and then that leads to depression. But they’re not like as good as everybody else, they’re not having as great of a summer as everybody else. They’re not have the, you know, the best of the holidays coming up. So, it really begins to impact people as they begin to kind of compare themselves to the jones as I guess you would say. But it’s now on the social media platform.

MR: So I’ve heard that every time there’s a like or some type of reaction, it releases a little bit of dopamine and all that hit.

CR: That’s right.

MR: To feel good and to kind of carry us through.

CR: Dopamine is really powerful in the brain and it’s kind of our part of our reward system and there’s actually a lot of good research especially with young people to show that when they have a post and someone has liked it that that kind of gives that little bit of dopamine release and it can lead to things like worsening of eating disorders can lead to worsening of just overall depression. It can lead to sleep disruption and other things in our life and we really what we set out to do is to connect to people, we begin to withdraw, and we actually disconnect. So, no time in the world have we ever been so connected by this little device but we’re so disconnected as individuals and that human connection is what really keeps people alive.

MR: It does. I had a friend say the other day, can you just pick up the phone and call, you know, just call, don’t text, just call. What is this then doing to our relationships?

CR: So, and you know, you see it, you can just walk into the restaurant, or you can just go sit down at your own kitchen table and see what’s done to our relationships, what we see a lot of times with just even married couples or people live together, that a lot of times they use the phone to connect. Actually, I saw last night on the evening show, late night shows that 60% of parents now text their kids, when dinner is ready? I know. So instead of that yelling up the stairs and trying to come down and that we have totally disconnected. So you don’t have as much to talk about, at the table throughout the day. With relationships and couples sometimes, issues like jealousy and distrust can come up because you friended an old friend on facebook, maybe an old partner or girlfriend or boyfriend and so a lot of times we were looking at those things if we’re, you know, say you got up and you didn’t talk to me very much this morning and I think Michelle is mad at me and then I see, you know, on social media the other day, what you’re doing and it’s like why is she communicating with all these people and not with me. So those are really damaging to relationships.

MR: So how do we begin the process of, of a social media or news detox because some people can go cold turkey just like with anything else, but there does because there is an addiction, there is some withdrawals and so how do you navigate that, what do you recommend?

CR: It’s going to be different for every person to be honest. Some people just have to go totally off social media, they really need that break. So they need to delete the apps they need to like put limits on their, their time that they’re going to connect and look at their email or do things that are associated with work. They also need to tell friends like, hey, you know, I’m taking a break, I’m going off social media a while because then their friends are trying to communicate with them through a messenger or through text or something and they can’t get a hold of them and then they’re kind of wondering, you know, what’s going on there. So um but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an all or none phenomenon, you know, you can really begin to set things in place to kind of limit your exposure. So, limit your media exposure, your news exposure to 20 or 30 minutes a day. I mean, let’s face it, after 20 or 30 minutes of news, you’re not going to hear anything new unless there’s some big breaking story. It’s just going to continue to reiterate what you’ve already heard or reframe it many times many times a different way. So putting some limits on that. The other thing is saying that I’m just going to check my email at work from 8 to 9 and then I’ll check it again between three and four and then put the phone down. So yeah, so don’t constantly check throughout the day to look and see if you’ve got another message because then it becomes that trail and then things start popping up, you know like so and so sent you a picture. So and so you know like or something on facebook and then all of a sudden you find yourself right back into that trap. So really trying to put some limits, maybe even timing them out of time, although the phones are smarter than we are now. I always am embarrassed to look at my screen time for the day or for the week and the averages. Because I do think I do. Um pretty badly. But it could do better. So little steps are important little goals. That thing is begin to replace the activities that you normally do when you pick up the phone with other activities like instead of getting up and just looking at your phone, get up and go for a walk or work on a project or call somebody and actually talk to somebody on the phone. I think there also has to be media free times in general and even as adults, we don’t do very well as this. And how do we expect our kids to do that, That’s the number one complaint I hear from people all the time is how much kids are on their phones. Well, we need to set our own phones down. So, when you’re with someone like, like us, like you’ve done, you’ve set your phone down, it’s, you know, it’s turned up. Yeah, that’s right. So you don’t get those cues to look at your phone, put it in your bag or put it away so that when you’re with people, you’re with people and when you’re at the dinner table, it’s a media friends free zone. And a lot of times people do have things like you may have a parent you’re taken care of or like I’m a doctor so I’m on call. Your phone is actually smarter than we think and you can put things so that you may only get messages that are really important. Like the exchange calling me from the hospital, from your parents or from your kids. So that you can put that phone down and shut it off. Pick up a book and read.

MR: Novel idea.

CR: Yea, novel idea.

MR: But probably more than anything too is man, don’t be on this at night because if you’re trying to wind down and go to bed because we all are not having I shouldn’t say we all so many people are not having the most successful night sleeps and it can be tied back to your phone and that blue light and just get it out of the bedroom. Stop looking at it after eight o’clock or 8 30. give it a break.

CR: Yeah, that blue light definitely suppresses melatonin production and that’s a melatonin is very important to kind of what it helps you fall asleep. The other thing is, you know, if you’re constantly kind of thinking about and looking at text or email, your mind’s not winding down like it should be. So that’s really good. The other thing that I kind of I was guilty of is you know, looking at your alarm clock in the middle of the night, most people now use their phones as an alarm clock. So if you wake up at three and you’ve heard the dog barking or you need to get up for some reason you look at your phone and see what time it is and you see you have three tags automatically. Your brain starts doing this. So yeah, put your phone down, turn it off if you can if that’s possible, put it in a drawer, leave it in the kitchen, leave it in an area that’s not in the bedroom.

MR: Great. All right, well Doctor Chad anything else you’d like to add.

CR: I think it’s mostly just remember that there is good stuff out there. So try to kind of filter out what’s good, take that and then shut it off.

MR: All right, well thank you for coming in today.

CR: Thank you.