Is social media decreasing our mental health?


Afnan Taha

Lexington, KY. Lafayette students checking their social media. Pictured top right to top left: Noah Sprout, Logan Ward, Zaida Bell-Frantz, Molly Anderson, and Daniel Whitaker.

Is social media negatively impacting our mental health? I have thought about this question many times before and I have come to the conclusion that, yes, social media is influencing our lives in more of a negative way than positive. Let me explain: let’s say I’m a teen and I want a distraction from my mind and life, social media is for that exact thing. I would use social media to get away from my thoughts and do something to forget my life at the moment.

Social media can increase our anxiety by comparing ourselves to other peers and also make us less social in real life, and that can make us develop social anxiety on top of everything else. So, in the end, we can see how social media does more harm than good.

Using social media activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical linked to pleasurable activities such as sex, food, and social interaction. The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety and depression. The whole concept of social media is to make us happy and for something to do. However, we are seeing serious effects on teens’ and young adults’ mental health.

When people look online and see they’re excluded from an activity or post, it can affect their thoughts and feelings and can affect them physically in a negative way. A 2018 British study tied social media use to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor academic performance. Here’s How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health. In other studies, teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 percent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent less time.

Is social media decreasing our mental health? Yes, I, and many others including research studies and statistics can confirm that social media is connected to teens’ and young adults’ mental health.

Now that we’re aware social media is being used negatively, let’s think of some ways we can positively use social media.

First, let’s set time limits for how long we spend on our phones, not as a punishment, but so we don’t lose ourselves and become addicted to the screen. A way to combat the negative effects of social media is to instead use it in a positive way that strengthens and maintains connections with others.

We shouldn’t use social media just to post and compare ourselves, but more to connect with friends and family, and even make new friends with the same interests in hobbies. Also, we need to use social media as a way to show awareness for important events happening in society.

So, in conclusion, yes social media can decrease our mental health; however, there are many ways we can prevent this from happening with a few easy steps and a little responsibility.