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16 Surprising Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

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Social media can be powerful. Through social media, people can connect, ideas can be exchanged, and news can be spread quickly. There are positive and negative effects of social media. With knowledge of safe, smart social media use, you’ll have information to potentially protect and boost your mental health while navigating the virtual world.

If you or a loved one has a mental health concern, please seek the help of a licensed mental health professional. MyTherapist is a helpful, supportive resource for advice and effective treatment.

Eight Positive Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

1. Social Connection

Humans are social beings. Social media can help us stay connected to others in positive ways.

2. Companionship

Relationships can be a protective factor for mental health. Being connected with others can ease symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, and isolation. A lack of social connections can be a risk factor for mental health.

3. Communication with Friends and Family Around the World and in Remote Places

Social media can keep us close, even when geography keeps us far apart.

4. Virtual Communities

Through social media, we can join groups who share healthy interests.

5. Awareness

Social media can be an effective way to raise awareness of meaningful causes.

6. An Outlet for Expression and Creativity

With respectful social media use, you can express yourself and your creative ideas.

7. A Source of Valuable Information

With careful use and trustworthy sources, social media can offer helpful information.

8. Fun and Entertainment

Healthy social media use can be fun. Consider the many opportunities to read jokes, play games, answer quizzes, and view fun or inspiring videos and photos, for example.

Eight Negative Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

1. The Unknown

Since social media is relatively new, there are not long-term studies about the lasting effects of social media on mental health.

2. Increased Mental Health Concerns

Research has shown that social media overuse may increase depression, anxiety, and isolation.

3. Fear of Missing Out

Social media can lead people to feel that everyone else is living a better or more exciting life, which can increase feelings of anxiety and depression.

4. Feelings of Inadequacy

Typically, others share highlights of their lives on social media. These often one-sided posts don’t reflect the realities of life’s challenges. Feelings that everyone else is problem-free can prompt us to worry that we are “less-than.”

5. Isolation

While mindful social media use can keep us connected to others, heavy social media use can actually increase feelings of loneliness.

6. Lack of Important Face-to-Face Connections

Social media connections are not a substitute for the protective factors of real-life interactions and relationships.

7. Cyberbullying

Teens and children may be particularly and dangerously affected by cyberbullying via social media.

8. Self-Absorption

Using social media in place of real-life connections and constantly posting about yourself can increase a sense of self-absorption and a lack of consideration for others.

Strong Mental Health: Tips for Smart, Healthy Social Media Use

Try Monitoring and Cutting Down on Time Spent on Social Media

Be mindful of your social media use. You can try using an app or manual methods to track time spent in the virtual world. You might try setting goals to manage use. For example, you could limit the number of times you post or check social media accounts each day, reducing the amount of time spent online. Turning off constant streams of alerts and taking social media apps off of your phone can be helpful.

Avoid Using Social Media Before Bed

Avoiding blue light emitted from screens and a constant stream of online information can help protect healthy sleep patterns, which are important for emotional regulation.

Spend Time with Others Offline

Real-life connections can boost our sense of belonging, offer us support, and allow us to feel compassion for others.

Remind Yourself of the Realities of Social Media

Try making a conscious effort to remember that social media is not an adequate reflection of most people’s lives. Social media can be a great way to connect with others, but comparisons can be unrealistic and can lead to negative feelings.

With smart, mindful use of social media, you can reap its mental health benefits. Moderate, careful time spent on social media can bring us joy, connect us with others, stimulate healthy discussions, and offer interesting and entertaining information, all of which have the potential to boost positive feelings, thoughts, and emotions. That’s worth liking.

About the author

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Marie Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com.
With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.