March 28, 2023

How Social Media Can Affect Your Mental Health During the Pandemic

By: Orla Eisenberg

Thinking back on the early days of the pandemic, there were a lot of activities and forms of media trending to keep us all busy while we were locked in our separate houses. Tiger King, focaccia bread, whipped coffee and daily walks are a few things that come to mind that were used by many to keep the cabin fever feeling at bay. However, with businesses closed and social distancing in full effect, many of us resorted to scrolling mindlessly through social media as something to occupy the time.

In this article by MedPage Today, they discuss the negative side effects of being forced to isolate from friends and family while dealing with the fear of the virus. The lack of social interactions leaves people feeling depressed and lonely, and pairing these feelings with certain content on social media can trigger even worse mental health. For example, there were a lot of users on Twitter who were “guilting” people into being more productive during the quarantine and essentially saying people have no excuse not to be productive since they have so much time on their hands. This is extremely unrealistic as many people lost their jobs, had to move home to take care of family, had to deal with a loss due to Covid-19, etc. This way of guilting people into feeling like they are not doing enough leads to people comparing themselves to others on social media, and an overall feeling of being depressed and disappointed with themselves.

Fast forward to over a year since the pandemic first began, we are still seeing how the combination of social media and a global pandemic is negatively affecting people’s mental health. With so many posts and news about pandemic-related deaths, protests, regulations, etc., social media has become a super depressing place. It is filled with people angry about the economy not opening up fast enough, people upset when others don’t wear masks, frontline workers pleading for us to follow the regulations and so many other sad or negative things related to the pandemic. Social media continues to be a harmful place that adds stress to the daily user, on top of the worry already caused by the day-to-day life of the pandemic.

To avoid letting social media negatively affect your mental health, there are some things any social media user can try.

  1. Detox -If you have not done a social media detox before, it can be extremely beneficial in clearing your mind and allowing yourself to be more in touch with your emotions, connected with friends and family, and allows for time to do things that bring you joy.
  2. Weed out negativity- Oftentimes on social media, we find ourselves comparing our lives to the tiny glimpse of the lives our favorite influencers and celebrities post about. If you consciously find yourself doing this, unfollowing these people may help you to realize that what you’re seeing isn’t 100% accurate, and there is no need to compare your life to anybody else’s.
  3. Set a limit on the app- iPhones have a feature that lets you designate a specific amount of time you can go on certain apps every day. If you feel like social media adds more negativity to your life than positivity, limiting the amount of time you go on it can encourage you to only spend time on social media catching up on what your friends and family are doing instead of scrolling through the feeds of celebrities and influencers.



10 thoughts on “How Social Media Can Affect Your Mental Health During the Pandemic

  1. Setting limits on apps is a big one! Checking my screen time is extremely embarrassing and I need to have a wake-up call. Limiting screen and social media time are definitely the best ways for me to take care of my mental health. Great article.

  2. This was such a productive read for me. I think the pandemic has been difficult for lots of people and social media proved to be a helpful outlet. However, social media clearly has a big impact on mental health. I find that social media was essential for connecting people in the pandemic and helping them feel less isolated. With that being said, I think the pandemic and social media showed a lot of people who their “real” friends are. Social media allowed me to see areas in which I disagreed with my friends. For example, seeing people I know posting at huge parties during the peak of the pandemic caused me to distance from them.

  3. Good job on this Orla! I will take your advice to detox, weed out negativity, and setting app limits. I think even during a pandemic, when most people have never experienced anything like this before, should be told by anyone else what to do or how to cope with it. This way of guilting people or judging is kind of ironic because they are also wasting their time doing something that could be considered a waste of time as well (judging others, telling people what to do, trolling, etc).

  4. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts! I need to hold myself accountable and try out some of your suggestions. During the pandemic I have spent too much time scrolling on my phone feeling somewhat defeated. It is really important to take a step back, refresh your mind and focus on yourself. I will definitely try a detox soon!

  5. During the pandemic, my screen time has increased so much. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I love the tips you mentioned at the end of your post. Setting a time limit and weeding out negative are gentle reminders I definitely much needed. Thank you!

  6. Oh man, the early days of lockdown seem so long ago now! COVID has only really made mental health worse, but also more talked about which has brought more awareness, just like you did. I like the suggestions you made on how to combat social media amongst having a low period of mental health. I myself had a social media break for a few weeks a couple of months ago and it was super refreshing. Great read Orla!

  7. Since the pandemic I can definitely tell that I have spent a lot more time on my phone, I think it is harder to shut it off since everything is either done on your computer or your phone now. It is hard to establish when the end of the day is. I think setting limits on apps is a great idea, I know I will start scroll and sometimes will be on a platform for upwards of an hour. I think I am going to need to take a break soon! Great article!

  8. Setting a time limit on apps is so helpful! My media usage always surprises me when the weekly screen time report gets released on Sunday. I felt some of this at the beginning of lockdown, but also it provided a time for me to try new things.

  9. You gave such wonderful advice, Orla! I definitely need to do a better job limiting my time on certain apps including TikTok. I think the pandemic has definitely left people feeling isolated and uncertain and with everything being virtual now, it’s a lot harder to step away. I do think it’s crucial to unplug and take a breather from social media every once in a while.

  10. I can definitely relate to the toxic affects social media had on me during the pandemic. I ended up actually deleting all forms of social media for four months to take a break from it. I think it is so incredibly important to take a break from it or even delete it, and I appreciated the thoughtful advice you provided when discussing it. It was so easy to get sucked into the negativity when there was nothing else to do, and it can perpetuate a very bad head space.

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