July 23, 2024

Social Media and Mental Health

By: Trevor Shott (@TrevorShott)

According to Hootsuite, 3.48 billion people (45% of the world population) now use social media in some capacity, and this number is only continuing to grow. Not only are the amount of people using these networks growing, but the time being spent on them is now up to 2.5 hours per day. In our ever-connected world people are continuing to turn to social media in order to stay on top of news, get advice on problems, find like-minded people, and stay in touch with people from all over the world. These social networks have an incredible amount of potential to do great things for many people, but there’s also the risk that they may actually be hurting a lot of people as well.

When we look at mental health and social media use, there are several ways in which these social sites may be negatively impacting us:

  • Addiction: Studies confirm that social media addiction is a real thing, and this isn’t surprising considering how easy it is to log in from just about anywhere in the world. Leading this addiction is what is called FOMO (fear of missing out). This is essentially the anxiety that people begin to feel when they feel like they may not be involved in something in which others are partaking. FOMO leads to many people feeling left out and not important when they continue to see their friends posting pictures doing fun things while they’re sitting at home alone. Yet, at the same time people feel the need to be constantly connected to their phones so that they don’t miss out on seeing something. Studies also show that we get a pleasurable sensation when using social media and that we can begin to feel withdrawal when we aren’t logged into our profiles.
  • Comparing Ourselves: Oftentimes what we see on social media is a snapshot of the best moments of a person’s life. When we scroll through our timelines and we see nothing but positive experiences from our friends and family it makes it seem like everyone around you is having a good time. What we fail to realize is that no one’s life is like that all the time and that we shouldn’t feel like we’re the only person who isn’t having a great life. On top of that we continue to see pictures of unrealistic beauty standards and photoshopped images that make it seem like someone is somewhere where they aren’t. When we compare ourselves to others that are seemingly perfect, we begin to doubt ourselves.
  • Harassment: One final way in which social media is dangerous for our mental health is the ridiculous amount of online harassment that goes on. Whether it’s trolls or bullying, there is no doubt that social media has an unnecessary amount of negative energy that could make anyone feel bad. Anonymity does wonders for bringing out the worst in people and it’s a shame that people feel the need to make fun of others online, especially without knowing how their words may impact the person they’re aimed at.

Even though social media can negatively affect mental health of some people, that doesn’t mean it does so for everyone: “Social media has the power to make you feel isolated and alone; however, it also has the power to make you feel the opposite. It’s all about how you choose to use it, and how you choose to consume the media that you are exposed to online.” This point is so important for people to realize and understand. These platforms are extremely powerful tools, but by simply changing your habits and how you use them, they can be used for positive change in your life rather than negative.

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11 thoughts on “Social Media and Mental Health

  1. Great post Trevor! I definitely agree that social media is an inaccurate representation of people’s lives. Pictures are not all that they seem and it is extremely important to limit time spent online. I feel tech companies are being proactive in this regard by implementing measures such as giving users the power to limit time spent on certain platforms as well as just tracking mechanisms to keep track of time online. This may be put in place to prevent liability down the road or a potential PR crisis if they become the scapegoat for a mental health crisis.

  2. Actually , many people generate the mental disease in modern society. Because they are desired to pursue the sympathy from social media. I once hear about news that a girl suicided just because she did not get thumb-ups in her twitter. This phenomenon reminds us to think about the drawbacks of online world. Modern people should spend too much time on reality rather than just live in internet. This might help to reduce the pressure in mindset.

  3. The new phenomenon involving social media and personal health intrigues me a lot. The subcategories listed were really interesting, particularly the category on addiction. I would have assumed that the addicting part of social media would have been the feelings of instant gratification, due to the “like” and “comment” notifications received.
    However, I think that it is important to note that a person cannot use social media and choose how they feel. Often times, users of social media do not know when it is effecting them in the moment. Feelings of anxiety and depression form when the person has already been participating with the media; therefore, the pressure to not delete your account is even higher. -Sarah Naciri

  4. Social media defiantly has an impact on mental help. With Instagram models and influencers sharing their highlight reel of their lives, it can be easy for people to get consumed with status. People can start to compare these people to themselves and think that “this is what I need to look like to be considered pretty” or “why doesn’t my life look like theirs.” However these trending posts are not actually a reality for people and I think everyone needs to keep that in mind. Influencers should start posting more relatable content and I think people would be happily surprised.

  5. I can definitely relate to this article. I spend around 3.5 hours on my phone and if it wasn’t for the screen time option on my iPhone that intimidates me, I probably would spend more. Although it is not the case for me, I know lots of people that can’t stay away from their phone for much time. It’s honestly sad having to go to dinner with someone who is stuck on a screen. It scares me that this is norm now and many kids will grow up with parents who spend hours on their phone. I have also noticed people that embellish moments on social media for the sake of not seeming boring. I think social media is transforming people just as much as people transform social media.

  6. Thanks Trevor. I think there are a lot of benefits of social media but I also believe it’s important to talk about the negative affects, especially those relating to mental health. I have noticed that some influencers and others who use social media are showing more genuine posts along with the “highlight real” ones. Although there’s a lot of issues with metal health in our society today I think the fact that its more openly talked about is a step in the right direction.

  7. I appreciate the honesty in this post! I 100% agree with this post and have seen the mental effects of social media in my life and my friends lives. I find myself constantly checking my phone and having FOMO if for some reason I don’t have it. I think social media is an awesome tool for communicating and staying in touch with people, and it has completely transformed our social world. Although it is a great tool, I also agree that it is important we look at how it is negatively effecting our lives. We have become so obsessed with social media, and I think it is important that we take a step back every once and a while to detox ourselves from all the craziness that is online. Its crazy to see how phones and social media have transformed our lives. I remember years ago when my parents would tell me I was “addicted” to my phone because I could never put it down, but now I see the same in them. They are constantly online just like the younger generations.

  8. I too really appreciated the vulnerability in this post as it resonated with me in many ways.
    To your point, there definitely has been a rise in “Mental Health” awareness globally and specifically on social. With that being said, a majority of what people consider to be a helpful aid has resulted in a digression in the agenda of change. Social media as a whole has played a role in many of the downfalls within depression, anxiety by the way in which people compare their actions and lifestyles to others finically, physically and emotionally. I myself have faced times where I’ve struggled mentally and I’ve found that social media was not a tool that I considered beneficial for my growth. I chose to put more attention towards working out, creating and therapy to build my personal strength prior to joining social media communities again.

    Great post, gave us all an opportunity to reflect on our thoughts.
    Thanks Trevor!

  9. Hi Trevor,
    I definitely agree that social media plays a big factor in one’s mental health in today’s society. These main categories (addiction, comparing ourselves, harassment) cause a snowballing effect because of the addiction to social media and the longing to compare yourself to others are fueled by other people’s addiction and longing to compare themselves as well. I tend to think that there are two categories of people online: influencers and followers. Influencers set the bar for what followers “should” thrive to reach. Often, these influencers are setting unrealistic goals because they show themselves in a false light, through video editing, photoshop, and other strategies to alter truth.

  10. Hi Trevor,
    Social media has had a great impact on today’s society, however it’s important to see that there have been negative aspects that have come from the use of it as well. Social media has an impact on people’s mental health, and I think this is a topic that should be more openly communicated about. Influencers and models share highlight reels of their lives, and many viewers find themselves consumed in this type of content. Social media users often compare themselves and start to believe that an influencer’s lifestyle should become their reality. However, these posts are not a reality for people. I think it’s important to recognize that not all content posted on social media platforms is relatable or honest. Although there are many problems with metal health in our society today from the use of social media, I think that if it is more openly discussed, improvement can be made.

  11. Trevor, I thought your post was well articulated and a vital issue to bring up. Social media is a fast moving market that continues to grow everyday. Although there are many positives to the use of social media, it can also affect a person’s mental health negatively. I have seen it first hand and it can really take a toll on someone’s self esteem. Taking steps on ways to work on the negative impacts social media has can help improve this vital issue.

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