Social Media Can Negatively Impact Mental Health

Many people can relate to the statement “I spend way too much time on my phone.” Our phones are mini computers in our hands, connecting us to a vast web of information, resources, and people whenever we want. 

Social media occupies a large amount of the time we spend on our phones every day. Whether that be by scrolling endlessly on Tiktok, or by posting selfies on Instagram, almost everyone has experienced some level of social media usage in their life. So much information and content can be consumed online every day. Headlines, tragedies, world news, style trends and viral diets are all at our fingertips, whether we ask for them or not. You name it, and it is likely to appear on your Instagram feed. Can social media negatively impact mental health?

The Social Constructs of Social Media

Humans are innately social creatures. We crave the presence of others. But, social media creates a disingenuous engagement with people online, and causes us to be too perceptive of how others view us.

Consistent access to other social media users takes away boundaries that are in place when we exist face to face. People are not always available, but social media makes it not seem that way. Unless we physically turn on “do not disturb” mode, we are essentially always available to others online. There is nothing stopping someone from contacting us at all hours of the day and night.

Recently, Instagram took away the ability to see other user’s number of likes on a post in an effort to keep social media users from comparing themselves to others. But the likes aren’t really the problem, is it?

Social Media is Not Reality

When we are constantly exposed to others supposedly “perfect” lives, whether or not there are likes to count, we can experience feelings of inadequacy about our own lives or appearances. We may begin to create a habit of comparing ourselves to people we do not know and have a false perception of. 

We may then begin to create false expectations for ourselves based on the perceptions of others online lives. We may believe that we are going too slow in life, or that we’re not as talented or lucky as others. But none of that is necessarily true!

Social media creates a false sense of reality, and sometimes a false sense of community. What we see online is not necessarily the truth. Someones supposedly “always clean house” might actually only appear that way due to lighting and conveniently hidden portions of the room. The point here is, we should not compare ourselves to others online, because online is not reality.

Chronically Online Generations

When we spend too much time online, we can develop a social media addiction, and subsequently, anxiety and depression. 

People with social media addictions are “chronically” online. They spend most of their free time consuming influencer made content and advertisements, and may experience feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. People chronically online may struggle forging connections with people in person, and may feel disconnected from real life.

In Conclusion

All in all, social media is a valuable resource for many reasons. When used responsibly, social media can forge bonds and connections with people all over the world. It can bring us information and news that isn’t always in the mainstream media. Social media can offer valuable insight into other cultures and civilizations. But, it can also be a source of torment, and the underlying cause of mental health issues in today’s teens and young adults.

It’s important to understand that social media does not equate reality. When consuming content made for social media, remember that it was made with the purpose of “influencing” you as a consumer. Though it may not be made with the intent to sell you a specific product, it might be influencing you to take on a certain lifestyle or look that might not be genuine to you. 

If you believe it’s time to begin distancing yourself from social media, Chenal Family Therapy may be able to help. Check out our list of services, or reach out with any questions that you may have about the therapy process.