The Negative Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

We are currently living in a day and age where we rely greatly on technology. Medical offices, law offices, school work, anything you can think of, we have found a way to steer away from paper and lean more towards screens to view and retrieve information. Advances in technology have also made it easier for individuals to communicate with their loved ones by introducing features such as long distance calling, video calls and social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Although it is a wonderful thing that we can communicate with people all over the world using such platforms, there have also been many downsides.

When one is attached to their phone or computer screen too often, they may forget about what is going on in their own reality. It is important to remind ourselves that the connections we have with others online, will never be the same as real-life human connection. It is a basic necessity in life to be able to have social interactions and physical contact with other people. In fact, a study shows that spending and engaging too much time on social media can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. [1] Aside from loneliness and depression from excessive use of social media, other studies show that some negative effects on mental health include poor sleep quality, anxiety, dealing with cyberbullying, dissatisfaction with body image, thoughts of suicide and self-harm, fear of missing out and psychological distress.[2] 

Today’s social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram consist mainly of posting photos or videos online, and eventually receiving feedback on those things, whether it’s with “likes" or “comments.” Eventually, the accumulated feedback on a person’s post will serve as a reward system and keep the person wanting to come back to post more and more.[3] This leads to people consistently checking these platforms and seeking validation from other people online. Such actions can be detrimental to a person’s self-esteem, and can increase anxiety and depression. 

Social media has received a lot of recognition and attention throughout the last few years. This means that you have a large amount of people posting their personal lives for others to see as well. Unfortunately, a lot of the things we see online are very unrealistic. We see things like image alterations all over the internet. Some people may alter their own photos so that they fit into this “box,” of what our society nowadays deems “beautiful,” or “perfect.” These alterations can affect someone’s self-esteem, cause dissatisfaction with body image and ultimately cause depression or anxiety. 

One of the biggest dangers on social media is Cyberbullying. Even though cyberbullying may seem like it is more prominent amongst teenagers and young adults, it can happen to anybody. We see it on the news all the time where someone ends up talking to the wrong person online and their lives change from one day to the next. Social media creates a pathway to become anything and anyone you want to be on the internet. This means that a situation can be taken to another extreme, to the point where a hostile environment is established. Sometimes it’s really difficult to leave said environment, ultimately leaving a user in an uncomfortable and vulnerable situation. Research shows that cyberbullying via social media can cause psychological distress, suicidal ideation and decreased life satisfaction in some individuals.[4] It is important to know your limits and acknowledge red flags in a harmful situation. 

In conclusion, there are many things to consider whenever being a part of the social media world, especially in the 21st Century. More than half the population uses social media platforms. Although there are some positive effects to using social media, caution is recommended. It is also beneficial to note the benefits and risks of continued use of social media. Even though social media has some negative effects towards mental health, the biggest takeaway and importance to the studies mentioned is that an overuse or prolonged use of social media can be detrimental. Which is why it is important to understand how much time and energy you spend on your reality, versus another life on the internet. 

Our providers at Affiliated Medical Group care tremendously about the effects on Social Media use on our patients. Please communicate with your provider if you ever feel like this is causing some sort of distress in your life.

If you or a loved one are victims of Cyberbullying, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. For more information about Cyberbullying, please visit the following link:

Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
* Call or text 988
* Chat at
Connect with a trained crisis counselor. 988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365.

[1] Hunt, Melissa G., Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson, and Jordyn Young. “No More Fomo: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 37, no. 10 (2018): 751–68.
[2] Sadagheyani, Hassan Ebrahimpour, and Farin Tatari. “Investigating the Role of Social Media on Mental Health.” Mental Health and Social Inclusion 25, no. 1 (2020): 41–51.
[3] “The Social Dilemma: Social Media and Your Mental Health.” Here's How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health | McLean Hospital, December 2, 2022. 

[4] Giumetti, Gary W., and Robin M. Kowalski. “Cyberbullying via Social Media and Well-Being.” Current Opinion in Psychology 45 (2022): 101314.

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