Social Media and Mental Health

Priya Chawla

Since the advent of digitalization, technology has taken its most personalized manifestation in the form of social media. With its first appearance in 1997, social media has become a widespread mania for all age groups, especially teenagers. It has virtually connected people from all around the world with just the click of a few buttons, giving way to an easily accessible mode of communication.

However, with this ease came a detrimental impact on the mental health of its users. Excessive use of social media has been shown to have a negative effect on the minds of avid users. The obsessive usage of platforms that bombard us with funny texts and perfect pictures can easily damage our healthy state of mind.

  1. Body Image Issues - A study from the University of Pittsburgh demonstrates the correlation between the hours spent on social media and the likeliness of having a negative body image. The results showed that those who spent more time on social media had 2.2 times the risk of having a negative body image than those who spent less time scrolling through social networks. A separate study displayed that the more time that teenagers spent on social media, the more likely they were to have symptoms of depression and sleeping disorders.

  2. Self-Esteem – Social media can decrease your self-esteem because being exposed to the flawless online facades of others can make you envious of their lives. Constantly viewing the aesthetic pictures of your friends’ seemingly perfect life can give rise to several insecurities about your own. Limiting yourself from social media exposure could help you sway from self-doubt and give you more time to focus on yourself.

  3. Bullying – Use of social media has resulted in a new kind of bullying - Cyberbullying. People from all age groups, mainly teenage girls, have been victim to this ugly medium of bullying, which has resulted in depression, self-hate and even suicide. We must emphasize on the correct way to use social media in order to protect ourselves and others from such dangers.

  4. Digital Interactions – One of the main cons of social media is the reduction of physical human interaction due to increased online interaction. When we spend continuous hours glued to our black mirrors, it detaches us from the real world and makes it harder to form personal connection in real life, making us more accustomed to the digital personas of our friends. Next time, instead of messaging your friend on Instagram, try calling them. Hearing their voice will help you to form a deeper connection.

  5. Living behind a Screen Instead of in the Moment – Even though social media can be the perfect treasure chest to store all of our fondest memories, it also has the ability to ruin them. While we are so preoccupied in taking the perfect photograph, we often forget to fully live in the happiness that comes from our experiences to the maximum capacity. While it is nice to have a memento from our past, constantly taking pictures can suck the joy and distract from new experiences.

  6. Lack of Sleep – Sleep, being of preeminent importance to our mental well-being, can also be negatively impacted by social media. After scrolling through social media, the anxiety, envy, or the simple addiction that builds up in us prevents us from feeling drowsy. The light from the screen can reduce the secretion of melatonin in our body, which is a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. We must make it a habit to not log onto social media at least 40 minutes before hitting the hay to assure that we’ll be able to fall asleep and have a good night’s sleep.

After reading about all of these repercussions, it must certainly make one realize that social media, no matter how enjoyable, can have a negative impact on your mental state. In order to avoid this, we should try limiting the amount of time we spend on social media, and instead, utilize it for hobbies and self-care. We don’t have to cut it out of our life completely, rather just allocate the social media-free time slots in our day for useful purposes. Remember to stay informed and stay mentally happy.