Social Media Impacts Mental Health

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok. All these social media platforms are used by millions across the world, but how does that impact mental health?

Since there are 4.62 billion people using social media daily, and 97% of those users are teens, it is obvious that if social media is unhealthy for teens, then there is a significant problem.

Rebecca Mattes, Capital High School health and sports medicine teacher, said, I think there’s pros and cons to social media. The cons that I think could lead to depression is the fact that sometimes with social media, it’s how people show their life on social media. Like it’s always the good things, it’s always the positive… so people have a tendency to compare themselves and what they are going through to what they see on someone else’s page.”

This makes sense, that this sort of illusion would be difficult for teens to remember after so many examples to the contrary that it is all a lie.

“And so sometimes that can be detrimental in that sense like ‘oh their life is so great, mine is not’ and that’s not really an accurate depiction of their life either,” Mattes explains.

It’s difficult to even fathom the obvious solution which is to limit teen exposure to social media, because it’s not all bad. 

Mattes continued with this idea, “Social media can also have good benefits, such as staying in touch with friends and family. I think it’s great to build community.” 

With social media changing so fast, it feels like the illusions remain impactful, “I feel like on TikTok…portray their lives very differently on social media then what their real life is…. it worries me because of the addictive factor to it, you can just scroll, scroll, scroll and you have the algorithms and stuff like that to fit your interests.”

Again, it’s bad but it’s not all bad and that’s the problem. Maybe there are ages where these illusions are more obvious, but then one has to consider that influencers wouldn’t be able to make a career if others didn’t believe in these illusions. 

So we’re left again with the concern that if we know adults are being influenced and impacted by social media, we have to accept that teens are more impacted, and to a detrimental level. 

Mattes concluded, “I think the thing with the negatives to social media, it’s like anything else, like too much of anything is not great, so just balancing your screen time with it and everything. And like I said, do your best to educate yourself on who you’re actually following, and if what they’re saying is backed by science or if they’re getting a sponsorship, you have to think of those little things when you’re online. So yeah, just balancing your screen time with things like real life and getting out there and things like that.”

While we all talk about being in control of limiting our online experience, we should begin to discuss the struggles with addiction and if we don’t try social media breaks, like for a week or so, we will always think we’re ok and healthy and not realize that we really have nothing to compare it to. We have always been online and involved in social media.