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Effects of Social Media on Mental Health & Wellness

Johnson Memorial Health on Jan 12, 2020

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become very popular. Up to 80 percent of people are using some sort of social media to interact with others. With the uprising of social media sites, there have been many recent studies on the effects of the sites on mental health and wellness. Up to 10 percent of Americans have a certified addiction to social media.


The use of social media has become so high that some researchers came up with an addiction rating scale. The researchers say that most people long into Facebook once a day, and many of them log in multiple times. It's not a surprise since most people are logging in with their smartphones, which makes it easy and readily available every time you are bored. But, how do you know if just checking in is more than something to do when you are bored? Click here to see more information on the addiction.

Although many people habitually use social media, very few are genuinely addicted. If you’re worried that someone may be at risk of developing an addiction to social media, ask yourself these six questions:

  • Does he/she spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
  • Does he/she feel urges to use social media more and more?
  • Does he/she use social media to forget about personal problems?
  • Does he/she often try to reduce use of social media without success?
  • Does he/she become restless or troubled if unable to use social media?
  • Does he/she use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on his/her job or studies?

If you answered “yes” to a more than three of these questions, then you may have or be developing a social media addiction.

Negative Impacts

Of course, most people who use social media want to put their best foot forward. Often, this means they are presenting a skewed view of their life that is all about happiness and achievements. This can lead their friends to compare their own lives to this "perfect" scenario which can have a negative impact on their emotional well-being.

A recent study also found that people reported a difficultly relaxing and sleeping after perusing social media sites. More than half of the people in the study reported feeling anxious or worried about their encounters or their inability to access the social media accounts if they were down.

Social media makes it tempting to be unproductive at work or home. Not only can it distract you from what you should be doing, but it can lead to missing out on other important things, such as exercise. The need to be connected all the time, which sounds innocent, is actually a detriment. Our brains need time to relax and recover, and social media does not help with that, but exercise would!

Positive Impacts

Many studies point out the negative impacts of social media on mental health, but some say there could be positive impacts. Social media could be used to spread happiness. Posting happy, encouraging, and uplifting posts may lead others to do the same.

The original goal of social media sites was to create an easy way for people to connect to others. This is a good tool for friends or family who don't live nearby to keep up with what is happening. Hearing from our friends and family makes us feel important and loved.

Another positive impact could be the ability to help identify certain mental illnesses. One in particular is social anhedonia which is the inability to enjoy normally enjoyable activities.

If you think you need help, you can start by making an appointment with the JMH Family Medicine specialists.