Social Media and Mental Health: 7 Things Frequent Users Should Know

| Updated on March 22, 2024

There’s no denying that social media role in finding talent pool and has become a transformative presence in our lives. Most adults and teenagers use it daily to stay in touch, keep up with trends, and share their opinions with a global audience. However, being glued to your screen for hours on end does more harm than good. 

In this article, we examine the impact prolonged social media use can have on your mental health. Overdoing may impact everything from your state of mind to your sense of security. Consider our points and adopt a more balanced social media diet to keep reaping the benefits without suffering the negatives.

It Portrays a Distorted and Filtered Version of Reality

It’s not news that not everything you see on social media is a true reflection of reality. Photoshopped images of surreally beautiful people abound, and anyone can use built-in filters and effects to make themselves appear more attractive.

We also tend to concentrate on the bright spots and wins in our lives. Your feed is likely overflowing with pics of friends enjoying vacations, concerts, or other experiences. Meanwhile, no one gushes about their boring week or mentions the struggles they face.

The eerie part is we’re all aware of this yet can’t help comparing the complex and complete pictures of our lives to others’ highlight reels.

Such comparisons lead to the fear of missing out and feelings of inadequacy. FOMO compels us to keep checking our feeds and participating in current trends. 

That’s another problem – although many trends might be harmless, some specific pranks and “challenges” (like the spiciest pepper eating challenge) can seriously impact one’s health and well-being. 

No social media trend should become one’s daily reality without a good filter of what’s right and what’s not.

It Promotes and Exacerbates Loneliness

You’d think having hundreds of friends and countless followers meant meaningful human interaction was always just a tap away. Ironically, studies show that the more we interact with our screens, the lonelier we feel

It’s harder to forge a genuine connection with someone if you only comment on each other’s pictures or exchange text messages. It does not only affect our mental health but social media can also impact our personal injury case.

Humans are social creatures and biologically hardwired to thrive only when their needs for interaction and validation are met. There’s no better cure for loneliness than spending face-to-face time with loved ones and deepening our relationships. 

Since we’re collectively spending more time on social media, such occurrences are becoming less frequent.

A study found that 94% of participants reported feeling troubled when they didn’t have their phones. 80% were jealous when someone else used their phone, and 70% expected to feel depressed, panicked, and helpless if their phone went missing or they couldn’t find it.

It Messes with Your Sleep Patterns

Getting enough restful sleep each night is a key component of healthy living. In the short term, ignoring this fundamental need results in tiredness, irritation, trouble concentrating, and not being able to study or work at best. 

Long-term sleeplessness can exacerbate existing mental issues, bring on depression, or even lead to memory loss.

Adjusting your social media intake and behavior can help. The most important change you should make is to stop using any device with a screen for at least an hour before going to bed. 

That gives the body enough time to start producing melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your circadian rhythm and lets you fall asleep quicker.

Don’t forget to mute notifications before bed so they don’t wake you in the middle of the night.

It Makes Self-Esteem Issues and Bullying Worse

If you were bullied as a kid a few decades ago, the abuse at least stopped when you got home from school. Cyberbullying knows no such boundaries and may weigh heavily on the minds of children and teens who experience it. 

The problem is pervasive, as more than 40% of children report having been cyberbullied at least once. It happens more frequently in around 25% of them.

The bullying takes on different forms, from name-calling and shunning to escalating behavior like stalking or creating dedicated hate pages.

The younger generation has it rough, even if they’re not cyberbullying victims. Teens are particularly susceptible to idealized beauty standards or being excluded from events “friends” proudly post about on their feeds. 

The toll this takes on one’s self-esteem is great and can have lasting consequences throughout adulthood.

But apart from mental health and sleeping schedule, social media has changed our art experience that helped millions of artists to earn.

It Can Compromise Your Online Safety

Social media makes connecting with people from all walks of life around the globe effortlessly. Although beneficial for broadening your horizons and friend pool, it can also put you at risk. Social media is rife with scammers who’ll do anything from tempting people with prizes to seducing them to get to their personal or banking info.

Many users who spend a lot of time on social media also feel compelled to share much about their lives. That can include information-savvy cybercriminals who may piece together to discover much about a person. Think about everything from your home address to security question answers or even passwords to see if you’re careless enough to share such things on purpose or not.

Even if you don’t expose them outright, the login credentials could still be at risk. All it takes is for a careless company to suffer a data breach. If the password for that and your social media account are the same, which they often are, someone could put 2 and 2 together and take over your digital identity.

Better safe than sorry, especially when tools like password managers can fix the issue quickly and easily. Switching to one lets you exchange all your shared and inadequate passwords for ones generated to be impossible to guess or brute force.

Most social media doesn’t ask for a person’s real name, but usernames alone aren’t enough to maintain anonymity. A determined hater could track a person’s IP address and post history, exposing their true identity. Please use a VPN whenever you access social media. The encrypted connection it forms shields your account from snoops and allows a safe and anonymous browsing experience.

If you’re wondering what security tool provider you should trust, first research their reputation and whether they managed to keep people’s data from being breached up until this point. See what other individuals talk about each provider and explore a comparison table of VPNs, password managers, antivirus, or whatever you’re downloading.

It Exacerbates Mental Illness

All the risks we mentioned so far take their toll on the most resilient of us and many users specially students wants to quit social media. No wonder, then, that people already struggling with mental issues are at greater risk. Prolonged social media use can itself be a form of addiction. It’s also linked to worsening anxiety and depression.

An increase in social media use can result in increased chances of anxiety and depression.

Subtitle: An increase in social media use can result in increased chances of anxiety and depression.

Worse of all, social media may play a role in the increased suicide rates observed since the mid-2000s. A 10-year university study published results indicating how excessive social media use increases the risk of suicide among teenagers, especially teenage girls.

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

Earlier points look like they make a damning case for social media, we aren’t suggesting you should stop using it altogether.

Social media platforms make it easier than ever to discover meaningful new relationships or rekindle past ones. It can be a blessing for people with limited mobility or who live in an area without like-minded individuals. Discovering “people”—groups who share your interests, worldviews, and ideals—can be life-changing and empowering.

In the end, it’s all about balance. Cutting down on social media use to a couple of hours per day at most will likely make you more content and engaged. It will also free up time to meet and make real-life friends, adopt new hobbies, and grow into a better version of yourself. 

Priyam Ghosh

Tech and Internet Writer

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