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The Ways Social Media Affects Mental Health

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Karla Pascua · Updated May 24, 2021

The Ways Social Media Affects Mental Health

Social media has ensured that we, as a global society, have become more linked than ever before. It has also become increasingly clear that being always “online’ impacts our mental wellbeing. You can become more depressed and disconnected in the long run. It is important to understand the effects of social media on mental health. 

When it comes to mental wellbeing, the youth is one of the groups at the most considerable risk. The most popular social media apps are Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. When it comes to active users, 78% of 18-24 year-olds use Snapchat, 71% use Instagram, and 68% use Facebook. Also, 94% of those ages 18-24 use YouTube, and 45% use Twitter.

The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Focusing on Likes

One of the most common effects of social media on mental health is the desire to gain “likes.’ This constant want for approval and validation may cause adolescents to make choices they would not usually make on their own. These include changes in appearance, negative behavior, and risky social media challenges.


Self-esteem is also one of the effects of social media on our mental health. Making comparisons with other people based on their social media accounts does little to lessen self-doubt. These selected and “staged’ photos can hurt your child’s self-esteem. Also, it is common for teenage girls to face cyberbullying on social media. But adolescent boys are not excluded. Cyberbullying is linked to depression and anxiety and is a cause for increased suicidal thoughts.

Human Interactions

Another effect of social media on mental health is in-person human interactions. It is vital to us as human beings to be able to interact and create personal ties. It can be challenging to do this on distanced screens. 

Privacy Issues

Young people will collect thousands of contacts through social media. The more people on the friend’s list, the more that people have links to their videos, photos, and notifications. Sharing too much information online may pose a danger to your children. It is important to teach your children to only share information with those they know and trust. 

Social media can be useful in daily life. You can connect with friends and family who are far from you and post old photos to preserve memories. But when it comes to privacy, teach your child to be wary of strangers and mindful of what share online.  

Less Face Time

Effective communication entails practice. When teens spend more time connecting online, they may have difficulty connecting in person. Without regular face-to-face communication, empathy and sensitivity can become challenging to develop. 

Lack of sleep

Not getting enough sleep is also one of the effects of social media on our mental health. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, headaches, and other related symptoms. It is essential to get enough sleep because too much screen time can make it hard for individuals to doze off.

Mental Health

Social media can often lead to mental health problems such as anxiety or depression when used too frequently or carelessly. According to a 2018 poll, over a third of Generation Z reported quitting social media for good. Around 40% believed social media platforms made them feel anxious, sad, or depressed.

Although you do not have to step away from social media altogether, it is an excellent idea to lessen your time online. You may want to limit your screen time to an hour or two a day.

5 Ways Social Media Can Benefit Your Life

While social media may cause some adverse effects, these platforms also offer unique benefits. 

  • Be Inspired to Embrace Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Social media can inspire people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. By sharing experiences online, people are more encouraged to quit smoking and start working out. You can easily find your “tribe’ or online social support system through numerous apps and platforms. Evidence shows that sharing goals and sharing small victories help people stay motivated. Sharing your progress online also helps you to stay focused. By doing this, you dramatically increase your chances of achievement.

  • Quickly Seek Help and Support Online

Many support groups exist on social media, from parenting groups to 24-hour suicide prevention hotlines. There are numerous primary support groups available. These networks often provide accessible platforms for connecting people and sharing mutual experiences. Many of these groups also connect with their audiences via SMS. They also offer daily information, allow you to provide feedback, and seek assistance if you need help.

  • Learn New Digital Skills 

While they can not overlook the threats and risks of social media, parents can also understand the positive uses of technology. The internet can help children in their studies and help improve their learning habits. While it is easy to dismiss gadget use as wasted screen time, it can also teach your children unique digital skills. These include how to research, be resourceful, fact-check information, etc. 

  • Strengthen Relationships

Social media can help to maintain relationships, especially with those who live far away. Social media can connect the elderly and those with limited mobility with loved ones via online chats and messaging.

  •  Aid Medical Research for Mental Health Professionals

Social media can help therapists and psychiatrists. Mental health professionals are continually utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Here, they can gather essential data, share it with colleagues, and better understand the behavior of people. 

Key Takeaways

Social media can have good or adverse effects. It depends on how you use it. Therefore, it is essential to keep contact lines open with your teenager and encourage a balance between proper social media use and real-life friendships. It is easy to be consumed and be affected by what we see on social media. We must remind children that these do not reflect real life. These are chosen, curated images and messages that people choose to post. 

Model good behavior and teach your kids to disconnect on weekends. When needed, supervise your children’s social media use but give them privacy and independence, depending on their age. You may also limit their access to certain platforms for their own protection. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Karla Pascua · Updated May 24, 2021

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