Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube — even LinkedIn. Over the last decade, these social media platforms have occupied a large presence in our everyday lives. With the flourishing prevalence of social media as a tool for socialization, career growth, and creative expression, it’s important to consider its role in maintaining our mental health. 

As with anything, there are upsides and downsides to regularly engaging with social media. Awareness of social media’s effect on our mental well-being is imperative as we continue to navigate an increasingly digital world. Once you know the benefits and risks of social media you can begin to make healthy changes to better your relationship with social media usage, friends and family, and yourself. Let’s dive deeper into the relationship between mental health and social media. 

Positive Impacts of Social Media

Since the advent of social media, there has been plenty of research on the detrimental effects social media can have on your mental and physical health. However, social media is linked to some lesser-known positive mental health outcomes as well. 

  • Finding Community

One of the main benefits of social media is its ability to connect people across the world. Through these platforms, you can keep in touch with family and friends who live far away or build new connections with people who share similar interests with you. Social media’s networking capabilities are of increased importance if you live in a remote area, deal with social anxiety, or are part of a marginalized group — all of which are factors that could prevent you from building essential social connections (Robison & Melinda, 2023; Sherrell, 2021). The positive impacts of these connections are plentiful: stress reduction, increased feelings of belongingness, development of social skills, and increased emotional support, among others, all of which contribute to improved mental health (Vaingankar et al., 2022; Zsila & Reyes, 2023).

  • Encouraging Self-Expression

Social media is an excellent outlet for self-expression. Not only does it provide a space to showcase your creativity, but social media also gives you a platform to express thoughts that might otherwise go voiceless (Robison & Melinda, 2023; Sherrell, 2021). For example, victims of violence or abuse can utilize social media to seek out community and support, as well as share their stories (Sherrell, 2021). Personal expression, social support, and creativity are all linked to positive mental health outcomes (Vaingankar et al., 2022). 

  • Decreasing Stigma

One of the most significant barriers to mental health care is the stigma surrounding mental health. People who suffer from mental health issues are often made to feel shame for dealing with these obstacles, but social media is helping to change the narrative around mental health treatment. Social media platforms provide a space where you can educate, inform, or learn from others about important topics such as mental health, as well as promote worthy causes and raise awareness about various issues (Robison & Melinda, 2023; Sherrell, 2021). By opening up conversations around mental health-related topics, anyone can help decrease the stigma surrounding these topics, empower others to speak about their experiences, and seek help without feeling shame (Zsila & Reyes, 2023). 

Negative Impacts of Social Media

As positive of an influence as social media can be, it also has its dark sides. When you spend too much time on social media, you may begin to experience some adverse effects, which may lead to a decline in mental well-being. 

  • Decreased Sleep

It is not uncommon for people — teenagers, especially — to forfeit sleep to spend hours scrolling on social media. Even when going to sleep at a reasonable hour, using social media before bed can prolong the time it takes for you to fall asleep because the blue light emitted from phone screens inhibits the body’s natural production of melatonin, a sleep hormone that helps prepare your body for quality sleep. Excessive social media usage can therefore lead to poor sleep quality. This presents a significant problem, as regular, high-quality sleep is crucial for well-being. Sleeping problems can result in adverse mental health effects, such as depression and memory loss, which may harm a person’s performance in work, school, or their personal lives (Sherrell, 2021). 

  • FOMO

When you spend a lot of time monitoring what your peers are posting on social media, you may start to feel like you’re being excluded or left out, a sentiment expressed by the acronym FOMO, meaning “fear of missing out” (Zsila & Reyes, 2023). Studies have shown that excessive social media usage is linked to elevated feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and lowered self-esteem (Sherrell, 2021; Zsila & Reyes, 2023). On top of this, frequent social media usage exacerbated by FOMO can result in increased levels of stress, poor academic performance, and educational outcomes (Stabler, 2021). 

  • Comparison

One of the biggest pitfalls of social media usage is comparison. Social media is known to stir up feelings of inadequacy about your life circumstances and physical appearance, which leads to dissatisfaction with your body image and life, as well as envy towards others who you perceive as “better” than you (Robison & Melinda, 2023; Sherrell, 2021; Zsila & Reyes, 2023). When you evaluate yourself through the lens of likes and social media engagement, you can easily become discouraged when you don’t receive the desired interactions, thus leading to feelings of depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, and distractedness (Stabler, 2021; Zsila & Reyes, 2023). 

  • Antisocial Behavior

Another downside of social media is its detrimental impact on offline relationships with family and friends. Research has shown that excessive social media usage can increase antisocial behaviors, as well as augment feelings of loneliness and isolation (Robison & Melinda, 2023; Sherrell, 2021; Zsila & Reyes, 2023). 

  • Addiction 

Excessive social media usage can be a sign of social media addiction (Robison & Melinda, 2023). The instant gratification provided by scrolling through your Instagram feed is much more stimulating and satisfying than the delayed gratification you receive after performing well on a test you’ve spent weeks studying for, making social media a proficient distractor (Stabler, 2021). 

  • Mood

Research has shown social media can negatively impact mood, including an increase in depressive symptoms, heightened feelings of isolation, and elevated levels of anxiety. Prolonged social media usage is also associated with low self-esteem and an increased likelihood of developing mood disorders (Sherrell, 2021; Zsila & Reyes, 2023). 

Tips for Social Media Usage

Now that you’re aware of some of the potential risks of social media usage, here are some ways that you can manage your screen time to protect your emotional health and better your mental well-being.

  • Use Social Media in Moderation

Psychologists advise that you use social media for no more than 30 minutes a day. Limiting your usage will help to improve your focus, mood, and overall mental health. Disabling social media notifications, turning your phone off when you’re not using it, and using apps to track your social media usage are good ways to deter yourself from frequent social media use (Robinson & Melinda, 2023; Sherrell, 2021). 

  • Prioritize Face-to-Face Interactions and Non-Virtual Relationships

While social media can be a great way to meet like-minded people and find a community that might not exist in your offline environment, face-to-face interactions with friends, family, and even strangers are still an important part of social life. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your time spent with family and friends, consider turning off your phone or your data to avoid distractions and be more present (Sherrell, 2021). 

  • Exercise and Go Outside

Physical fitness is an important component of both mental and physical health. Instead of burning away hours on social media, your time will be better spent exercising or getting some fresh air, even if only for 30 minutes. Sleep, exercise, and mindfulness all contribute to mental well-being, so if you’re looking for an activity, search for volunteer opportunities in your area (Robinson & Melinda, 2023; Stabler, 2021).

  • Practice Self-Care

One of the most important factors for maintaining mental health is developing a self-care routine. For some people, self-care can be as simple as getting enough sleep and going for a 30-minute walk every day. For others, self-care might look like daily exercise and mindfulness practices. Volunteering, spending face-to-face time with friends, and practicing self-reflection are also great ways to manage your mental well-being (Robinson & Melinda, 2023; Stabler, 2021). 

  • Talk to a Professional

Mental health can be difficult to navigate on your own, which is why mental health professionals exist to help manage your mental well-being. If you are struggling with social media addiction or any other mental health stressor, please access mental health resources for additional help.

While there are many upsides to social media, there are just as many pitfalls to using these platforms. It is now easier than ever to become absorbed with social media at the detriment of your well-being, so while social media may be an important part of your professional and social life, knowing when to prioritize self-care is key to maintaining a healthy, lasting relationship with social media. 

Wearing many hats in your business can be difficult, especially when attempting to prioritize your mental health. If you need an extra hand with your social media and digital marketing efforts, BlueTickSocial can help. Contact us today to begin growing your brand’s online presence! 


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