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Brisbane journalist urges young Catholic women to put mental health before getting ‘likes’ online

Major problem: “We need to put boundaries in place to make sure social media is working for us, not the other around.”

BRISBANE journalist Jo Hayes is more interested in her mental health than how many likes she gets on Facebook.

The Channel 7 reporter and 4KQ newsreader recently spoke to a group of young Catholic women about the importance of regulating social media use.

“We need to put boundaries in place to make sure social media is working for us, not the other around,” Ms Hayes (pictured) said during her talk to the Brisbane Oratory women’s group Flores Teresianes (Flowers of Thérèse).

“While there were many benefits to social media, boundaries are crucial for maintaining mental and emotional health.

“Psychologists and public health experts are increasingly concerned about the mental health issues stemming from social media use.

“It’s now seen as a public health crisis.

“Anxiety, depression, insecurity, comparison, unhealthy striving and FOMO (the fear of missing out) are just some of the negative impacts.”

Recent findings from the United Kingdom’s Millennium Cohort Study into adolescent social media use demonstrated that females were at greater risk of developing depression from excessive social media use than males.

“The statistics, both in Australia and around the world, speak for themselves,” Ms Hayes said.

“About 50 per cent of Facebook and Instagram users report feelings of low self-esteem, insecurity and anxiety as a result of too much time online”.

Ms Hayes said that like many things in life, social media “makes a great servant, but a terrible master”.

“I post quite regularly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve trained myself not to be too concerned with how many ‘likes’ I get,” she said.

Annerley parishioner Laura Dougherty serves on the Flores Teresianes leadership committee and was at Ms Hayes’ talk.

“Social media can be addictive and a time-waster,” Ms Dougherty said.

She logged-off from social media during Lent this year and said the experience provided her with more clarity and more creativity.

“I think, for me, turning off notifications and setting a daily time limit is essential to good healthy social media interaction,” she said.

“Social media only shows the highlights of another’s life so we can easily fall into the comparison trap and that is never healthy.

“Seeing too much of others’ lives means we are not focusing on our own life enough and this can stop us from actually living life, living the way God intended.”

In order to “stay sane” in the age of digital distraction and overload, people must be “intentional” in how they engaged with social media, Ms Hayes said.

“I don’t scroll and I never look at my newsfeed on Instagram or Facebook,” she said.

“I go to specific friends’ (or) organisations’ pages to get what I’m looking for, rather than just being ‘fed’ what the social media site wants to give me.”

Ms Hayes’ experience as an online contributor placed her in a position to educate young Catholics on how to stay healthy and safe.

“Guarding myself from the toxicity of online (hate) has been one of the keys to my online health.”

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