15 Ways Social Media Affects Mental Health

As we become more aware of social media’s negative effects on mental health, it’s also essential to consider whether there are any benefits. As social media platforms become aware of the negative aspects of their products, many are embracing ways to improve mental health.

1. Social Media Gives You FOMO

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FOMO (fear of missing out) is a problem for many people on social media. It seems like everyone else is having a fantastic life, is in love with their partner, and is having so much more fun than you. In addition, you might see posts from friends hosting an event you weren’t invited to, which can leave you feeling lonely and sad.

2. Social Media Can Cause Feelings of Isolation

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While social media can bring people together, it can often cause feelings of social isolation. Spending time scrolling through social media channels can be an unconscious search for a dopamine hit, a way to feel better. However, if someone spends several hours daily on social media, they may lose touch with reality and become mentally detached from nurturing real-life relationships.

3. It Could Be Making You Feel Anxious or Depressed

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Too much time on social media can lead to a sense of loneliness. We need face-to-face communication with others. No amount of emojis, likes, and comments can replace that essential emotional need. Watching others online can make you feel your life is lacking, which can significantly impact mental health. There’s also the added issue of prolonged periods of blue light, which can cause anxiety.

4. You May Start Comparing Yourself to Others

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Comparison bias is comparing yourself to someone who may appear socially, physically, financially, or mentally better than you. That can cause a feeling of diminishing self-worth and self-esteem. However, social media content is often a rose-colored snapshot of a person’s life. In reality, a friend you think has a loving partner or a flourishing career may be unhappy and lonely and working in a toxic environment. Beautiful people may use makeup, great lighting, and filters to remove skin flaws.

5. Social Media Can Increase Feelings of Vulnerability

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Online trolls seem to make a career out of making people feel miserable and notably cause young people to have serious mental health issues. A Stop Bullying Government Report suggests that children who are bullied on social media are more likely to suffer from depression. From stalking, name-calling, and starting rumors to sharing explicit images or physical threats, anyone sharing online becomes vulnerable to these unpleasant experiences.

6. It Can Negatively Impact Communication Skills

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Spending time with others helps build social and communication skills. We learn how to have face-to-face discussions, to have fun and banter. We can develop genuine friendships from our encounters, fall in love, and feel an authentic connection. Social media can lead to feelings of disconnection, so it’s essential to maintain face-to-face relationships.

7. It Can Become Addictive

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Social media becomes an issue when you cannot stop the constant scrolling. You may intend to watch just one or two videos on TikTok, when you suddenly disappear down a rabbit hole for several hours. Social media platforms use sounds like notification pings and visual stimuli like emojis to encourage users to remain engaged. Social media triggers dopamine, which is a feel-good chemical, a neurotransmitter in the brain. We can then become addicted to the rush of dopamine, which keeps us hooked on social media.

8. We’re Trapped in the Delusion That Social Media Helps

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There’s a weird loop in our addiction to social media because of the conflict between thinking it helps and the negative feelings it can cause. It’s an unhealthy cycle that requires a strong focus on constant reflective feedback to break the habit. When you pick up your phone and open the Facebook app, there may be a sense of expectation and hope. After an hour of scrolling, you don’t feel “better.” You may feel worse. Eventually, the delusion becomes a negative loop that is challenging to break.

9. Social Media Can Be Positive for Mental Health

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Social media can be an excellent way to promote accountability for a goal. For instance, members of a Facebook weight loss group can support each other and champion goals with positive reinforcement. A social support system works when the group administrators fiercely moderate negativity to create a supportive, safe, and positive space for members who enjoy the community vibe.

10. Social Media Can Increase Mental Health Interventions and Support

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An increasing number of companies offer social media support through their websites. For example, grief and suicide support organizations focus on helping vulnerable people while maintaining a safe environment for anyone to share their personal experiences. They may host anonymous forums, online lives, webinars, and chats.

11. Social Media Can Be Useful for Mental Health Professionals

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With increased social networking tools, mental health professionals can collect essential data to extend their reach and help more people. The research can help psychiatrists and therapists understand the challenges associated with mental health issues relating to social media. The benefits of a global reach can help demystify the stigma associated with mental health and help reduce serious concerns.

12. It Can Strengthen Existing Relationships

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It’s too easy to lose touch with friends and family, especially if they are in a different country or location. Social media can help people connect. For example, older people or anyone with limited mobility may find it easier to connect with their children and grandchildren. Social media is a quick way to reach out to those close to you and maintain relationships without physically meeting.

13. It Can Help Young People Develop Functional Personal Skills

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Young people may be reluctant to talk to those close to them, especially their parents if they have mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Social media helps teens reach out and share their issues with peers online. For a troubled teen, discussing their problems online can instigate an intervention by friends to get the help they need.

14. Social Media Can Make People Feel Less Alone

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If someone is suffering from a specific problem, they may feel alone. Perhaps they feel different from others and believe they are the only ones with a particular issue or a way of thinking. Social media can help you find your tribe. For instance, if a teen has undiagnosed ADHD and feels baffled by their behavior, such as procrastination, hyper-focus, or intense procrastination, finding others with the same issues can be helpful. Discovering others online that have the same or similar experiences can positively impact mental health, especially for teenagers.

15. Social Media Can Help Children’s Collaborative Learning

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Children can use social media platforms to understand and appreciate different worldviews and people’s perspectives. They can use these tools for education and to better understand the world around them.

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