The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health: A Review of Current Literature

Abstract:

Social media lends itself to becoming an integral part of everyday life for too many people. However, in most cases, sites and platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are used for communications, connecting with people, and expressing one’s self. Nevertheless, there have been studies done that prove social media inadvertently influences mental health positively and negatively.

This paper reviews current literature describing the impact of social media on mental health by explaining how it, in a way, makes an individual vulnerable to variations in self-esteem, body image, and emotional well-being. It also explains how social media can, in some ways, be a source of social support but also used as a platform for cyberbullying and comparison. The complex relationship between social media use and mental health has been increasing in recent literature.

Introduction:

Within the past few years, social media has been a bomb with billions of subscribers all over the world logging onto famous websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter every day. While social media revolutionized the way of connecting with others or communicating with them, it also drew consideration relating to mental health problems.

Researchers have just begun to test ideas related to how social media use is associated with elements, for example, self-esteem, body image, emotional well-being, and so on; the results have been quite conflicting in terms of whether they indicate positive or negative effects on mental health. This paper, in particular, relates to the review of available literature describing how social media is affecting mental health, with a view to putting more light on the intricate relationship relating to social media usage and mental well-being.

Literature Review

Literatures are rife with studies that have reviewed the relationship that exists between social media use and mental health, all having varied conclusions. One of the most important studies showed that there is a relationship between excessive social media use and high levels of depression and anxiety.

Another study established a positive correlation between the use of social media and feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem. Other studies, however, indicate that social media is instrumental in maintaining good mental health, such as through social support and a sense of community building. For example, one study indicated that those subjects using social media to keep in touch with others reported higher levels of social support and well-being.

Social media, on the other hand, is the sounding board for negative social comparisons and cyberbullying, which contribute towards bad mental health. According to research, comparative use on social media disposes people to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Furthermore, cyberbullying on social media can be linked to increasing anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts in adolescents and young adults. Finally, the pressure to provide an attractive image of self through social media could also lead to insecurity and unworthiness.

Some researchers have indeed found that if people follow mindful methods of social media use, the negative impact of social media on wellbeing can be partly averted. Mindful social media use incorporates structures for becoming conscious of emotional reactions to the content shared on social media, having boundaries around its consumption, and maintaining a good balance between the online and offline spheres of connections. If users of social media are more conscious and cautious in their usage, then they can help reduce possible negative impacts of social media on mental health and well-being.

Conclusion:

The relationship between social media and mental health is highly complicated and multi-dimensional. Applications have a variety of impacts on areas of mental health, such as self-esteem, body image, and emotional well-being—both positive and negative. While social media is able to offer many ways to provide and gain social support, build ties, and activate networks, it equally becomes a means for negative social comparison and cyberbullying, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low esteem.

Facilitating mindful social media use and setting boundaries around their online interactions can lessen the harm that social media can have on one’s mental health. Future research will, therefore, be quite firm in its pursuits of finding out the effects of social media on mental health and maximizing strategies that promote healthy, positive online behavior.

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Maria Saly
Maria Saly

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