The Impact Of Social Media On Our Mental Health

Most people have felt the effect of social media on their mental health first-hand. But have you ever stopped to delve a little deeper into why usage of social media platforms leaves you feeling anxious, distracted, or downcast?

The reasons are a little more complex than they may first appear.

Social Media And Mental Health

Social media often garners a more negative reputation than a positive one, despite its numerous benefits such as facilitating communication, providing access to entertainment and news, and creating job opportunities, to name but a few. Nonetheless, social media causes serious issues which one must not fail to address.

While occasional use of these platforms may be harmless, excessive use is what can fuel these problems and cause them to escalate.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of humans, we lean into excessive use of social media more than we may like to admit. After all, we are creatures of habit, and these platforms are purpose-built to be as accessible and addictive as possible.

Moreover, humans inherently crave social connections. When real-life interactions fall short, individuals are drawn into the depths of social media, which, as its name implies, primarily offers avenues for ‘social’ connections.

From Snapchat to Twitter to Facebook to TikTok, the number of these platforms only continues to grow. This gives us a growing array of ways to consume information and engage with others, often supplanting our real-life relationships and distorting our perceptions of genuine human interactions. This can render much of our digital experiences seem remote, unattainable, and artificial.

As a result, before we may even realise it, we find ourselves dealing with mental health issues. Let’s take a closer look at the tie between social media usage and its subsequent mental health effects.

Mental Health: The Negative Effects of Social Media

While social media has positive aspects, such as facilitating communication, fostering community, and providing access to information and entertainment, if moderation and mindful usage are not exercised, these platforms can also have negative effects on mental health and well-being.

Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Once upon a time, if your friends were hanging out or a party was happening that you weren’t at, you could sit at home blissfully unaware. Now, thanks to social media giving a constant avenue to view what others are up to, we may feel a sense that everyone is enjoying a more fun and eventful life than our own.

Just like that, we begin to feel FOMO, or the ‘fear of missing out’.

Of course, this gives us an unrealistic perspective of our and others’ lives. Nevertheless, constant exposure to this can create very real mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.


As mentioned, feeling FOMO can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, while constant comparison with others and the pressure to project an idealised image online can foster a sense of inadequacy and unease about our own lives in relation to others.

Moreover, exposure to cyberbullying through social media platforms can be difficult when on the receiving end. Due to the anonymity afforded by social media, many feel they can get away with making harmful comments to others online without repercussions. This renders these digital spaces potentially dangerous, particularly for younger people.


Social media platforms are designed to be addictive, with features like infinite scrolling, notifications, likes, and comments triggering dopamine release in the brain.

This can lead to compulsive usage patterns and difficulty in disconnecting from social media, which can interfere with daily life activities and responsibilities.

Low Self-Esteem

As touched upon, social media often portrays idealised versions of people’s lives, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem among users who compare themselves to others.

Constant exposure to carefully curated images and lifestyles can create unrealistic standards that individuals feel pressured to meet, leading to negative self-perception.

Attention Span

The constant stream of information and notifications on social media platforms can contribute to a shortened attention span.

Ever find that you struggle to read a book these days? Or find it hard to pay attention at school or work? You may find yourself struggling to focus on tasks for an extended period without feeling the need to check your social media feeds or respond to notifications.

This demonstrates how social media can actually impair our productivity and concentration.

Social Isolation

Ironically, despite the term “social” in social media, excessive use can lead to social isolation.

Spending excessive time on social media can detract from face-to-face interactions and meaningful relationships, leading to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from real-life social networks.