Ways Social Media Affects your Mental Health

Article by Nicole Wanjala
Posted: July 08, 2020  

The internet has made the world seem like a global village allowing people to connect with like-minded individuals from around the world who help us reinforce our opinions no matter how negative or positive they are. One result of social media is the unity of like-minded people. In the last decade, various social media platforms have sprung up, giving people a variety of options to choose from and find their crowd. There are varying views on whether social media is inherently good or bad, here are some ways social media affects your mental health

Positive effects

A recent study conducted by Michigan State University to determine the truth of the theory that social media use leads to declining mental health found that active social media users are 63% less likely to experience serious mental issues such as depression and anxiety. Here are some positive effects of social media;

  •   Maintains connection

Social media enables individuals to stay up to date with family and friends who may be in different locations. Sharing bits and pieces of our daily lives allows us to maintain connection to our loved ones. Additionally, it allows individuals access to vital social connection especially for those who live in remote areas.

  •   Build networks

Social media also enables us to build our social networks. Using social media platforms enables us to discover people who share similar interests or ambitions who may turn into new friends or communities that give us a sense of belonging. In tough times or periods of despair, these friends and communities may also provide emotional support.

  •   Stay up to date with information and skills

Social media allows us to find new sources of information or learning thus enabling us to stay up to date with what’s happening in our neighbourhoods, countries and even abroad. We can also learn new skills or solve personal problems.

Negative aspects

Various studies have found a compelling link between heavy use of social media and increased risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness and self-harm. Social media can also promote  negative feelings as follows;

  •   Feelings of inadequacy

The images and videos posted on social media are altered to relay perfection. Additionally, people only choose to share the good parts of their lives. This may make individuals feel insecure and inadequate about their own lives and appearance.

  •   Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

People are always doing newsworthy things on social media, from extravagant holidays to simple promotions at work, these may make some feel like they are missing out on life. FOMO can negatively impact your self-esteem, make you anxious and addicted to scrolling on social media to receive updates that make you feel worse.

  •   Cyber-bullying

Social media opens you to a world full of all kinds of people from the best to the worst. People who are envious or jealous about the life you portray or your appearance can easily bully you with hateful comments or abuse.

As much as there are negative aspects of social media, it still remains a vital part of our lives, especially now with the ongoing pandemic. It is thus vital to moderate the time you spend on social media platforms and monitor how those you connect to on the platforms make you feel about yourself.


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