The prevalence of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, has increased in recent years. Many mental health professionals believe that the rise in mental illness is due to social media use. Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives. So how do social media and mental health negatively affect one another? The constant access to it on one’s phone can lead to low quality sleep which can harm mental health. It has associations with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
A study showed that individuals who are more active on Facebook and Instagram have lower levels of satisfaction with their lives than those who are less active. Although social media platforms are useful for things like communicating with distant loved ones or making connections, it has changed communication as a whole. This blog will explore how social media use can negatively impact mental health.
Different Ways Social Media Affects Mental Health
On average, there are over 3.7 billion users all over the world on some sort of social media platform. Social media has become so common that it is hard to imagine life without social media. A 2015 Common Sense study found that teenagers may spend as much as nine hours of each day online, with over half of them reporting feeling “addicted” to their devices. With all of these users and all of the time spent obsessing over their feed or image on social platforms, there’s no wonder social media can affect someone’s mental health.
Continue reading to learn some of the main reasons social media affects the mental health of its users.
Inadequacy About Your Life or Appearance
Think about how many social media users you follow and truly like. Now, think about how many of them post or share content that makes their lives seem picture-perfect. Are these photos even what they actually look like, or how they actually live their day to day? Nine times out of ten the answer is no, this is not how they, or their lives, actually look in the real world.
Similarly, we’re all aware that other people tend to share just the highlights of their lives, rarely the low points that everyone experiences. However, that doesn’t lessen those feelings of envy and dissatisfaction when you’re scrolling through a friend’s airbrushed photos of their tropical beach holiday. This misconstrued image of someone’s perfect life or the ideal body is what is creating mental health issues.
Isolation and Loneliness
Social media has become a way to stay in contact with friends and family or find like-minded people to interact with and build relationships with behind a computer screen. However, when social media becomes the only way to socialize, it creates feelings of isolation. This can actually be harmful instead of helpful because loneliness leads to mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
When using social media, mental health issues can begin to increase because of the cut-off from the outside world. Socializing with other people through the use of these platforms is not always enough to remain happy or healthy after long periods of time on them.
Depression and Anxiety
Social media is constantly changing and there are new apps that pop up all the time. It can easily become overwhelming to keep up with the latest trends and fads. Like we spoke about above, because many people choose to communicate behind a screen, social interactions in person have become harder. We need face-to-face contact to keep us grounded and mentally healthy.
Spending time with friends or getting outside and exercising can help someone struggling with depression and anxiety tremendously. On the other hand, allowing yourself to become consumed to your screen while scrolling through social media for hours on end can increase these mental issues.
One of the most common ways someone’s mental health is affected by social media is by cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic means, like social media platforms.
When social media is used as a platform for cyberbullying, mental health issues can be the result. Studies show that about one in three kids and young adults have been bullied or harassed online and many others see hurtful comments posted by anonymous people they’ve never met before.
An estimated 14.98% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey. Sadly, because so many teens and young adults experience cyberbullying, many have been pushed to taking their own life.
Final Thoughts about Social Media and Mental Health
Social media can be a great thing for many reasons, but it can also very quickly become negative. So many people spend countless hours scrolling through their feeds and looking at someone’s life with envy. These can bring down self-esteem and cause further mental health issues without even being aware.
One way to reduce screen time and cut back on the amount we are on our social media platforms is by setting time limits for each day. Your smartphone has a feature that allows you to limit the time you spend on your social media. This will keep you aware and hold you accountable when it comes to how much of your day you spend scrolling.If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues and needs help, contact Harm Reduction Center. We know how difficult it is with so much technology surrounding us and are here to help.