The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health: What We Can Learn and How We Can Help
By: Molly Montville, Account Executive
It’s no secret that social media plays a huge factor in our daily lives. But just how much does it truly affect us? Many claim that social media sites like Instagram and TikTok pose unrealistic beauty standards, leading to feelings of incompetence among young people on a global scale. Others argue that social media is merely a fun way to share who you are with your friends and family.
A 2018 British Study found that social media is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression. With nearly 81% of adults using social media on a daily basis, this association has dangerous potential. Why do people continue to use these apps if it makes them feel unworthy? That’s just the thing. The component of not knowing how many likes or shares a photo or a TikTok might get is thrilling to many, and for young people is a way of gauging how well they “fit” into their social circle. This need to fit in can seriously affect relationships, too. A New York Times article titled “Honeymoon Hashtag Hell” cites newlyweds who divorced because the wife was more invested in her social media presence than she was in her marriage. Detrimental effects stemming from social media use leads to increased depression, loneliness, and overall feelings of inadequacy.
As a whole, we can minimize the effects that social media has on mental health by promoting a more casual presence on social media. As Instagram has become more popular, selection of what users share to maintain a trendy feed has grown increasingly. Many feel that an outfit or event goes to waste if it doesn’t result in a post that will improve their feed, when social media doesn’t necessarily need to be taken that seriously. What many people fail to realize now that influencer culture is so prevalent is that an Instagram feed is simply a highlight reel. Yes, they’re documenting their Louis Vuitton PR package, but they neglect to include the hours of editing that go into a single photo. They fail to mention the thousands of hate comments that they get. Too often these feelings of inadequacy among younger generations come from comparison. The truth is, we’re comparing ourselves to someone’s best moments. Social media only lets you see what someone is willing to show you. Remind yourself that what you see is only a fraction of this person’s life, and that social media overall does not define who you are.
Ultimately, it is likely that social media will be a part of our lives for many years to come. To maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and with others, limit social media usage, stay true to yourself, and encourage others to take a realistic approach to it.