Relationship between social networks and mental health (2023)

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Social media platforms have grown significantly over the past decade. First, they were very simple and mostly served one purpose, which was to connect people. Today they are much more complex with intentions beyond just connecting people. For example, one of the main purposes and uses of social media is advertising. Along with all these good intentions, however, it comes with some side effects. Not only does social media cause dissatisfaction, but it can also lead to the development of mental health issues such as anxiety or depression if used too often or carelessly. Mindlessly scrolling through our social media feeds when we have a few minutes or hours to spare. And as we probably intuitively know, and as research confirms, this isn't the best habit when it comes to psychology. Here are some reasons why social media is not very good for mental well-being and can be very harmful in some ways.

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One of the negative effects of social media is depression. The more we use social media, the unhappier we look. One study found that Facebook use was associated with less happiness and less life satisfaction. The more people used Facebook in a day, the greater the drop in these two variables. The authors suggest that this may also have to do with Facebook eliciting a perception of social isolation in a way that other solitary activities do not. The authors write: “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for meeting these needs, allowing people to connect instantly. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive "offline" social networks strongly do, current results show that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite outcome for young adults: it may harm them" (Steers et al., 2014, pp. 701-731).

Another source mentions that "heavy social media users increase their risk of depression by 27%" (Does Social Media Cause Depression?). Many other results point to the same problem when using social media. It is a growing problem mainly among teenagers and teenagers.

After all, social media might not be so social for young adults. One study found very interesting results related to time spent on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat and Reddit, and isolation. It found that people who reported spending the most time on social media, more than two hours a day, were twice as likely to be seen as socially isolated than those who reported spending half an hour or less a day on these sites. Furthermore, people who visited social media platforms more frequently, around 60 visits a week or more, reported three times greater social isolation than those who visited less than 9 times a week (Primack et al., 2017, p 1-8). ).

There may be two explanations for these results. One could be that people who feel lonely or socially isolated use these platforms to escape their isolation and feel less alone. Another reason for this problem could be that people isolate themselves by spending too much time on social media. We are already witnessing people in public looking at their phones with their heads down all the time. Therefore, social media platforms might not be a good help in connecting people.

Unrealistic social media comparison and envy can cause mood swings. Passively using social media and simply lurking in people's posts and stories can cause this problem. The truth is, some people like to show off the highlights of their lives. Many people describe their life as perfect, with no mistakes. They are always happy and their life is full of great achievements. The problem is that sometimes people forget that what is shown to them on social media is just part of someone's life and not everything. We get jealous when we compare our daily lives with other people's highlights, which are actually all social media.

(Video) Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health? | Bailey Parnell | TEDxRyersonU

If you fall into the trap of comparing your private self to other people's public personas, you will feel inferior to others. One solution to this problem is to limit time and passive use of social media. Choose the content you want to see in your feed and ignore the rest. Accept yourself as you are and always remember that what you see does not reflect the reality of someone else's life (BBC News, 2016).

The other effect of social media is sleep and circadian rhythm. Mobile devices and computer monitors used to view social networking sites emit high levels of blue light. This artificial light disrupts healthy sleep cycles. The blue light contained in artificial light is the most harmful to humans. Blue light suppresses melatonin production more than other wavelengths. Blue light suppresses melatonin through the sensors in our eyes, making it harder for us to fall asleep. Surfing social media before bed not only distracts you from sleep, it can literally keep you from getting sleepy at all (Holzman, 2010).

A link between sleep and mental health is rightly established. It has been shown that people who suffer from anxiety tend to spend much less time in deep sleep than those who do not (Monti & Monti, 2000). It is common knowledge that lack of sleep and persistent anxiety are clearly not good for a person's physical or mental health.

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From my own experience, I believe that social networks occupy a large part of our daily lives. After using the Moment app and monitoring my daily activity, I found that I was spending around 2.5 hours on Instagram. I also noticed that I have attention issues due to social media. I tend to check my account wherever I am, at any time of the day. Sometimes I do it automatically without any particular intention. Waste of time and attention deficit are two other big problems that these platforms cause.

According to British neurologist Greenfield, "The problem with short attention spans is related to the idea that social media stimulates the brain's reward center to send out signals, as with drug use, due to the immediate rewarding nature of brain interactions". Greenfield claims that the unexpected exchanges currently taking place on these sites will get the brain used to working on these unrealistic timescales. As a result, noting that answers are not readily available, Greenfield suggests that attention deficit disorder behaviors are becoming common among teenagers, a diagnosis that has been on the rise for years (Foehr, 2006).

So what should we do to control these side effects of social media? The first step is to fully understand the specific risks that social media poses to our mental health. Next, we must learn to self-control our behavior on social media. Personally, I've used this strategy by first identifying and focusing on what makes me sad or anxious. After that, I removed those specific goals from my social media. After that I felt so much better about not being around things that depress me. The other thing that helps is reducing the time spent with these apps. I just moved my Instagram app from my front page to the last page. So every time you wanted to use Instagram, you had to swipe a few pages to access the app. This action itself caused me to use my account less than before as it took some time to access the app.

In short, social networks also have some advantages. Apparently it keeps us connected over long distances and helps us find people we lost touch with years ago. But socializing when you're bored or need an emotional boost is probably a really bad idea. Based on all the research done on the subject, some important issues have received more attention. Depression can be caused by heavy use of social media or envy of other people's accomplishments. Isolation is another problem. You may be isolated due to heavy use, or you may be using social media because you are isolated. In addition, lack of sleep due to the blue light that comes from our screen can endanger our health. Getting too little sleep can also lead to depression and anxiety. Social media can also be a huge distraction. Receiving tons of notifications from your accounts distracts you from your daily activities to simply checking what's happening online. All these troubles can only be avoided if you control your behavior yourself. Controlling and determining how often you should review your accounts is the key factor in this matter.


  • Brian A Primack, Ariel Shensa, Jaime E Sidani, Erin O Whaite, Liu yi Lin, Daniel Rosen, et al. (2017). Social media use and perceived social isolation among young adults in the United States.American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53, 1-8
  • Does social media cause depression? (North Dakota.).Heavy use of Instagram and Facebook can have a negative impact on children.received from
  • Facebook stalking makes you unhappy, study finds (2016).BBC News.received from
  • Foehr, U.G. (2006). Media multitasking among American youth: prevalence, predictors, and pairings.kaiser foundation. received from
  • Holzmann, D. (2010). What's in a color? The unique effects of blue light on human health.Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(1), A22-A27
  • Mai-Ly N. Steers, Robert E. Wickham, and Linda K. Acitelli. (2014). Seeing everyone else's highlight reels: How Facebook use is linked to depressive symptoms.Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 3, No. 33,Nº 8, pp. 701-731. received from
  • Monti, JM & Mohti, D (2000). Sleep disturbances in generalized anxiety disorder and their treatment.Sleep Medicine reviews, 4, 263-276.

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