How Social Media Can Impact Mental Health

on Thursday, 13 August 2020.

How Social Media Can Impact Mental Health

Social media apps have become a part of daily life. Since the introduction of popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram in the mid-2000s, social media has continued to grow in popularity every year.

Especially since the beginning of social distancing guidelines toward the start of the year, social media apps have grown to be essential in keeping people connected with each other. Despite its obvious benefits of bringing people together in real-time and allowing important information to be shared rapidly, social media has been seen to have negative effects on mental health — especially in teenagers and young adults.

The widespread use of this newly integral part in our society has brought on issues surrounding mental health. According to multiple studies from the National Institutes of Health, the excessive use of social media can lead to increased anxiety, self-esteem issues and worsening symptoms related to depression.

Social media provides an instant gratification for users. Once you post something, followers and friends can react and comment on the post. On apps like Instagram, users can see the amount of likes and comments other users receive. Additionally, users can upload “stories” and live videos where people can see what they are doing in real-time.

Between the instant gratification and the constant updating of people’s statuses and stories, it is not uncommon for people to feel left out or not as popular as the people they follow online. Fear of missing out, or commonly known as FOMO, can be an isolating feeling.

For many teenagers and young adults, still trying to figure out who they are, social media apps can be platforms filled with comparisons. With the use of filters and photoshop, young users can struggle with self-esteem as they scroll online through hundreds of edited photos.

This relatively new channel for human connection is a two-sided coin. A great way to help manage feelings of anxiety and isolation caused by social media use is to limit the amount of time spent on the apps. Even if you are quarantining, finding hobbies separate from social media can be a great way to maintain a positive mindset. Spending time on your phone does not have to mean being on a social media app. In the time of social distancing, facetiming and having phone calls is a great and safe way to stay engaged with friends and loved ones. 

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