Social Media is Becoming our New Best Friends: But How it is Affecting Mental Health?

Phone with social media apps on screen

The amount of people that are on social media has drastically increased over the years.

In 2021 the Pew Research Center shared that from 2005 to 2011, the number of people on social media increased from 5% to 72% of Americans!

Spending so much time on these platforms is taking away social interaction with real people.

Social media is one of the best technologies available with apps and platforms that connect people from all over the world! It’s an easy way to connect with friends and family who live far away, meet new people, and join communities that are lined up with your interests.

It’s also a great way to keep up with celebrities, check out the latest trends, and gain a following for whatever reason you want. To name a few there is Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Whatsapp, and Tiktok.

The downside is that social media is taking up so much of our time. We are now getting so distracted and addicted to filters, videos, and memes online that we neglect the rest of our lives.

It is now the new entertainment; we sit on our phones watching videos for hours instead of watching a movie or taking a walk in the park.

At work, we are scrolling online when we should be working. On the way to bed we are scrolling, and even in a conversation with someone you could be scrolling at the same time (not listening at all to who you are talking to).

How is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health?

People Holding Their Phones on social media

The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology includes a study that was done using 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. They were randomly picked to either limit their social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat) to 10 minutes for each platform per day or no limits at all.

The results were that there was a decrease in loneliness and depression over three weeks in the group that was on social media for just 30 minutes a day.

Excessive social media can lead to:


Lack of sleep can lead to depression. Staying up hours after your bedtime on social media can be a cause of this. When you are tired all of the time, it starts affecting your mental state and energy levels. In return, you get to feeling down and depressed or even feel like a zombie.

Social becomes an outlet for your reality, making it hard to actually face things that are going on in your life.

Lack of social interactions with people can cause you to feel lonely and can lead to depression. Being online is not the same as actually hanging with people in person.

We are all social creatures, we need those in-person connections from time to time for balance.

Less Physical Activity

When you are spending more time scrolling on social media, you can be neglecting the time that can be spent on other things. This includes your daily walks, getting your workouts done, or your Zumba classes.

Time definitely goes by faster when scrolling online. I am guilty of missing out on my workout because of scrolling on Facebook for 2 hours. By the time I realize that I need to get to the gym, it is too late because the gym is closing soon.

Lower Self – Esteem

It can feel like a competition on these platforms as you are always comparing yourself to others. Looking at the pages with thousands of followers and likes makes you wonder what you are doing wrong.

You begin posting more and more content with the hopes that you will get as much attention as the others around you. The search for validation goes on and on and you continue picking your brain for better content ideas.

This can have you feeling bad about yourself because you think that you aren’t “as good or attractive as” the people that you see on social media. Filters help enhance your look but they can make your self-esteem worse because of wanting to actually look like the filters.

A study in 2018 done on 250 Italian students showed the relationship between self-esteem and Facebook. It was found that those with lower self-esteem spent more time on Facebook comparing themselves to others.

Fear of Missing Out

Looking at all of our friends and followers’ pages, everyone seems so happy. Everyone is doing the things that you would like to be doing.

Advancing in their careers, going on vacation, getting married, or getting a new puppy. Seeing these things makes you feel like you should be just as happy as everyone else. That your life should be so much further along because everyone else’s lives seem to be more in order.


Getting so wrapped up in your social media accounts causes you to focus all of your attention on them. Constantly taking pictures of yourself and recording your daily activities.

Becoming fixed on having to make sure everyone is seeing how awesome your life is. Dressing up every day and taking tons of pictures for your fans. Even when you are with others, you are so busy taking pictures or posting. This causes you to miss out on what’s actually going on around you.

Detach sometimes to get back in tune with your real life.

person deleting Facebook social media application on smartphone

Turn off your notifications

This helps you to stop picking up your phone as often to check your pages. Social media notifications make you want to keep checking online to see what new has happened.

Having your notifications off allows you to continue your normal routines in life without getting distracted. You’ll be more present in the moment with the people around you as well by not checking your phone as much.

Connect offline

Reaching out to your friends and family using just your phone directly is better than going online to see how they are doing from their pictures and recent posts.

You get a lot more information about your loved ones as well by just reaching out via phone. Schedule some time to hang out together and catch up while enjoying time spent away from social media.

Set a certain amount of time for social media use

Because it is so easy for time to pass by when on social media, set a certain amount of time to spend on these apps. Start small and work your way up to the more time that you desire.

Spread out a few hours throughout the day, but make sure that the time spent that day all equals the time that you decided on ( i.e. 3 hours spread across all apps at whatever times).

Just Take a Break Altogether

It is a good thing to take a break from social media every now and again. It can improve your mental state and help you focus more on things that are going on in your life.

Think of it this way, if you spend an hour a day on social media, you will have 7 hours back a week! With this time you can get back to the hobby that you may have put on hold. You can also get back connected with others around you, in person.

Social Media has opened the doors for so many great opportunities as a whole. But it comes with some downsides, and being able to manage your social media use can prevent them.

We see the highlights of people’s lives and compare ourselves, making us feel less than others. By limiting your use of these various apps or taking a break, you can maintain a healthy state of mind.

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