For most people, social media is both life-giving and "I want to throw my phone in the trash can" exhausting. On one hand, it's full of your friends, photos of puppies, and recipes you want to make but never will. On the other hand, it's full of photos of your ex with his new girlfriend, internet trolls, and Instagram photos that make you feel like you're not measuring up.
Here are five unexpected risks of using the technology we love.
1. It could contribute to the prevalence of eating disorders.
A 2016 study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that of 1,765 U.S. adults between the ages of 19 and 32 they surveyed, the people who spent the most time on social media had 2.2 times the risk of eating and body image concerns. While it's hard to know if they were spending that time on social media because they already had those issues, or if those issues developed due to their time spent on social media, it's still scary to think about.
2. It could be the reason why you're anxious AF.
A 2015 study from Indiana University found that young girls are more likely to use social media to post photos of how cute they look, whereas boys are more likely to post photos of things they've done (awards they've received, etc.) Because of that, Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, commented in The New York Times suggesting that girls could be more stressed out than boys are due to their social media being so tied to their appearance. So if they have a lack of likes on their photos or posts, they could internalize that as someone telling them they're not worth much. And let's be real, this happens to grown-ass women all the time too, and it is brutal.
3. It could be making you dumber.
Researchers from Cornell and Beijing universities found that people who retweeted a lot were actually less able to understand and process information. The study separated Chinese students into two groups and gave them both a Twitter-like app. One group had the option to share the message or move on, and the other group didn't have the option to share it. They found that those who had the option to share or not to share experienced "cognitive overload" about whether or not it was worth sharing. When they were given an additional test on how well they understood a New Scientistmagazine article right after, those who reposted more often understood the article less. Professor Qi Wang, a human development expert at Cornell, said he thinks that if students are "surfing online and exchanging information" before they take a test, they might perform worse than those who hadn't done that. So your information overload can definitely come with a price.
4. Your GPS check-ins could leave you vulnerable to predators.
Back in December 2015, a 44-year-old California man named Arturo Galvan was arrested for allegedly using GPS coordinates from geotagged photos he found on Instagram and Facebook to find female college students, break into their homes, and steal their underwear. After the incident, the Fullerton PD warned women to double-check their privacy and location data, since they say that updating your phone can sometimes cause those settings to revert to the phone's default. Which could also lead to some weirdo stealing the bras and underwear that were not freaking cheap.
5. It could be damaging your most important relationships.
According to a 2012 Pew Research Center phone survey, 15 percent of Americans had an experience on social media that caused them to end a friendship, 12 percent had an experience that resulted in a face-to-face confrontation, and 11 percent said a social media interaction caused problems within their family. Those numbers also extended to their work lives, with 3 percent saying that social networks got them in trouble at work.
While it's unlikely that you're going to stop using all of your social networks entirely due these scary survey findings, these are still some pretty good reasons to turn off your phone tonight and just chill for a bit.