Blog

Blog

blog image

The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

March 19, 20244 min read

Welcome to the digital era where social media platforms have become integral parts of our daily lives. From scrolling through Instagram feeds to engaging in lively discussions on Twitter (X), these platforms offer us unprecedented connectivity and access to information. However, amidst the allure of likes and shares, it's crucial to acknowledge the impact social media can have on our mental health.

What is Social Media?

Before we dive into the complexities of its relationship with mental health, let's define what social media actually is. Essentially, social media refers to online platforms and websites that enable users to create and share content or participate in social networking. From Facebook and Twitter to Snapchat and TikTok, these platforms allow individuals to connect with friends, family, and even strangers across the globe.

Perspective on Mental Health Issues

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and plays a significant role in determining how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Unfortunately, mental health issues are widespread, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.

Mental health challenges are wide and come in different forms, from anxiety and depression to addiction and loneliness. Factors such as genetics, brain chemistry, life experiences, and environment can all contribute to the development of mental health disorders. Moreover, the stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents individuals from seeking help, making their struggles more difficult.

In recent years, researchers and mental health professionals have turned their attention to the relationship between social media use and mental health. The Internet offers both opportunities and challenges for our mental health. That’s why it’s important to understand the connection in order to promote healthy online behaviors.

On one hand, social media provides a platform for self-expression, community building, and access to support networks. It allows individuals to share their experiences, connect with like-minded individuals, and find valuable resources related to mental health. During times of isolation or crisis, social media can serve as a lifeline offering friendship and stability.

However, excessive or unhealthy use of social media has been linked to various mental health issues. The curated nature of social media feeds can create feelings of inadequacy, as users compare their lives to the highlight reels of others. The constant exposure to unrealistic beauty standards, cyberbullying, and fear of missing out (FOMO) can contribute to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Why a Study of Social Media and Mental Health is Important

Given the pervasive influence of social media on our daily lives, it's essential to understand its impact on mental health for several reasons:

1. Identifying Risk Factors

By examining patterns of social media use and its association with mental health outcomes, we can identify potential risk factors and protective factors. This knowledge can inform the development of interventions and strategies to promote positive online behaviors.

2. Informing Policy and Guidelines

Insights from research can help policymakers and social media platforms develop guidelines and policies to safeguard users' mental health. There’s much that can be done to create a safer digital environment, including implementing features to encourage mindful usage and addressing online harassment and misinformation.

3. Empowering Users

Education and awareness are powerful tools for empowering users to use social media mindfully. When they understand the potential impact of their online behaviors on mental health, users can make informed choices and cultivate healthier relationships with technology.

A Quick Look At Theoretical Perspectives

Social Comparison Theory

First proposed by social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954 - states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. Social media provides endless opportunities for comparison. This can evoke feelings of envy, inadequacy, and low self-esteem.

Self-Discrepancy Theory

Psychologist E. Tory Higgins developed the self-discrepancy theory in 1987 - suggests that we experience distress when our perceived self (how we see ourselves) does not align with our ideal self (how we wish to be) or our ought self (how we think we should be). On social media, users often present idealized versions of themselves, carefully curating their profiles to highlight their accomplishments, experiences, and relationships.

Uses and Gratifications Theory

Contrary to other theories that focus on the passive effects of social media consumption, uses and gratifications theory emphasizes the active role of users in selecting and using social media to fulfill their psychological and social needs. According to this perspective, people engage with social media for various reasons, such as entertainment, information seeking, social interaction, and identity expression.

Social Cognitive Theory

Proposed by psychologist Albert Bandura in the 1970s - highlights how users learn from observing others, modeling their behaviors, and internalizing social norms and values presented in online environments. Through exposure to various social media content, users may acquire new skills, attitudes, and beliefs, shaping their perceptions of themselves and others in either a negative or a positive way.

social media and mental healthimpact of social mediamental health issues
Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

Jeanne Prinzivalli

Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

Back to Blog

Get the support you need to create calm confidence that lasts

Get the support you need to create calm confidence that lasts

Online therapy for California Residents

Phone: (323) 879-7809

Copyright@2023 Blossom Wellness Spa, Inc.

Online therapy for California Residents

Phone: (323) 879-7809

Copyright@2023 Blossom Wellness Spa, Inc.