The impact social media has on our mental health has been studied and researched heavily, but no definitive conclusion has been reached. At best, we can say that the effects are likely more negative than positive, but it’s far from certain how much of an impact there actually is. With the continued growth of social media, however, the effects could become more and more pronounced in the coming years and decades; especially given how dependent so many of us are on social media as our primary source of communication and social interaction. In 2022, the situation will be significantly worse than it was in 2018.
Lately, social media has been under fire from many different sources because of its impact on our mental health. As the use of social media expands, so does the data surrounding its effects on our psyches; the latest studies find that there’s a strong correlation between spending time on social media and developing depression and anxiety disorders later in life, particularly in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. With these revelations, it’s only natural to wonder how society will adjust to this new information in the years to come. Will younger generations spend more time off of social media?
- Table of Content
- 01. An introduction to the future of mental health
- 02. What Is Social Media Overload?
- 03. How Does It Affect Our Lives?
- 04. Are There Any Positive Effects?
- 05. Does social media cause mental illness?
- 06. Young people are spending more time on their phones
- 07. Social media effect on teenage mental health
- 08. An update from six months later
- 09. What Can We Do To Fix It?
- 10. The positive effect of social media on mental health
01. An introduction to the future of mental health
Though many people are aware that depression and anxiety are linked to social media use, few may be aware of just how extensive these links are. The more time a person spends on social media, for example, is directly correlated with higher instances of loneliness and self-harm. In fact, some studies have suggested that as much as 27% of teenagers who spend five hours or more per day on social media sites could be diagnosed with at least one mental disorder by 2020. While there are plenty of reasons why social media can negatively impact our mental health, it’s important to remember that social media isn’t inherently bad. Rather, it’s our perception of social media—and what we choose to do while using it—that can impact our mental health. To combat any negative effects of social media on your mental health in 2022, consider taking a break from social media every once in a while and interacting with others face-to-face instead. Socializing offline has been shown to increase happiness levels while also improving overall well-being (and it doesn’t hurt that you’ll get exercise while doing so).
02. What Is Social Media Overload?
According to The Huffington Post, social media can create feelings of loneliness and isolation and decrease our sense of belonging. This increased sense of loneliness can lead to depression and other mental health issues. There’s also a study from 2014 that links suicide rates to certain high-risk days on Facebook when people get upset after reading negative status updates. In 2022, social media overload could mean a sudden rise in teenage suicides and students calling out sick from school due to stress-related anxiety attacks. That same year, schools will start offering mental health classes as part of their curriculum because students are unable to focus during class due to social media addiction. Parents will be outraged by these statistics and blame social media for their children’s mental health problems. They might even petition Congress to pass legislation that requires students under 18 years old to take mandatory mental health classes before they can use any form of social media. By 2024, at least one state will have passed such legislation, but it won’t go into effect until 2025 or later.
03. How Does It Affect Our Lives?
Since its invention, social media has significantly impacted our mental health. A new study shows that a new mental disorder may arise in as soon as six years because of its pervasive nature. Depression and anxiety disorders can manifest from prolonged use if it’s not monitored closely. More generally, social media causes loneliness—though it’s technically not caused by social media itself, but instead by other real-life situations, depression, or anxiety disorders. The problem is compounded by how easy it is to compare ourselves to others online. If you’re concerned about your mental health due to social media, try unfollowing people who make you feel bad about yourself and limiting your time spent online.
It might seem like common sense, but too much exposure can exacerbate negative feelings. Additionally, consider taking a break for a few days or weeks at least once every month to help reset your mindset. If things still don’t improve after taking these steps, consider seeking professional help from a mental health specialist. The sooner you start treatment for depression or anxiety disorders, the better chance you have at recovery and maintaining good mental health for years to come!
04. Are There Any Positive Effects?
The scary thing about social media is that we just don’t know what it’s doing to us. Just like sugar, they may be harmless at small doses but can have devastating effects at higher levels. Like sugar, there may be some people who are able to consume social media without seeing any negative impacts and good for them. But it’s unlikely that we all fall into that category. There are many reasons to think social media could have a negative impact on our mental health over time: not only are many apps designed to keep us scrolling for as long as possible, but social media users tend to display more signs of depression than non-users.
We also know that when we spend too much time focusing on others’ lives, it can make us feel worse about ourselves. And then there’s always cyber bullying—which is a problem now and will likely get worse in five years when kids are spending even more time using these platforms. Even if you believe most of these studies, however, one thing still stands out: We don’t really know how social media affects mental health because no one has done large-scale research yet.
05. Does social media cause mental illness?
Does social media cause depression and loneliness? It’s a question many people ask. The answer is likely no but that doesn’t mean social media doesn’t have an impact. In fact, it may be causing less visible mental health issues as well. Many people are spending hours every day scrolling through their feeds, often aimlessly. Some turn to apps like Instagram for intentional escapism; others use these same services for unintentional distractions (i.e., procrastination). If you’re looking for relief from your own personal struggles, reaching out to someone IRL is probably your best bet – we all need a reminder that social media isn’t real life and shouldn’t be used as such.
When you spend too much time engaging with your feed, it can become harder to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not. This can lead to some scary mental health consequences if left unchecked. In 2022, when most young adults are using social media at least three times a day, will they be able to tell where one ends and another begins? Or will they continue down a path toward loneliness or depression? Only time will tell…
06. Young people are spending more time on their phones
Statistics show that almost half of the high school students spend at least seven hours per day looking at digital devices, and 70 percent spend three hours or more using social media. Social media is often a key cause of low self-esteem among young people; they tend to compare themselves to others and see only perfect images. What they don’t realize is that these perfect photos aren’t always what they seem: many are digitally manipulated, touched up, or edited entirely. Addressing issues like these is critical because just one negative experience online can lead to mental health issues later on down the road. To help combat social media-related depression, students should be taught how to properly use social media as well as how to handle cyberbullying situations—and parents should be sure their children know how to protect themselves from cyberbullies. The good news is that things are getting better. In 2022, hopefully we’ll have found a way to stop social media from negatively impacting our mental health!
07. Social media effect on teenage mental health
According to a recent study, teenage depression and loneliness have reached an all-time high, partly due to increasing social media use. The percentage of teens reporting almost constant feelings of being left out or feeling that no one understands them is nearly double what it was for teens in 2005. And depression rates among 13- to 18-year-olds have skyrocketed from 7% in 2004 to 12% today. The statistics reveal a disturbing impact that social media seems to be having on teenagers’ mental health and loneliness, but what does that actually mean? How can we expect these negative emotions to affect our mental health as adults?
For starters, loneliness can lead to depression which can lead to anxiety disorders and substance abuse. It’s also worth noting that these are all risk factors for suicide, so there’s clearly something going on here. While we don’t know exactly how social media is affecting teenage mental health—whether it’s bullying, cyber bullying, increased pressure to succeed at school or home life issues—we do know that their overall wellbeing is suffering because of their increased use of technology. This means that if you’re a parent with children who are entering their teenage years soon (or already there), you should start thinking about ways you can limit your child’s exposure to social media until they are ready.
08. An update from six months later
It turns out that social media has had a much greater effect on our mental health than I originally thought. After looking at statistics, It appears that one out of three adults exhibit symptoms of social media addiction and one out of four teens show signs of depression as a result. As someone who works with people suffering from emotional trauma, I found these results to be incredibly alarming. It’s also important to note that many psychologists predict that by 2025 over half of our interactions will take place online.
With so many people (especially young adults) becoming addicted to their phones and spending countless hours living their lives through a screen it seems clear that we must act now before it’s too late. We need to educate children about how dangerous social media can be for their mental health and teach them ways to cope with stress without turning to technology. We need policies in place that regulate how long children spend on their devices each day and require parents to set strict rules about when they can use them. The time is now! Let’s not let another generation suffer because of something we could have prevented.
09. What Can We Do To Fix It?
Today, social media is a staple of life. And as more and more people flock to social platforms for news, information, and entertainment (and as our dependence grows), so too does an important question: what effect does it have on our mental health? With addiction being a recognized mental disorder by Psychology Today, what will we do about it? Will apps and websites like Twitter or Facebook be allowed to continue to access data about us for advertising and other reasons if we can’t trust that they won’t harm us? Does using them make us less happy than doing things in person or offline (or no difference)? Do we need social media at all? What will happen when social media becomes something we don’t want to use but feel like we must? And how might our answers affect not only mental health but also privacy, security, and freedom of speech in general?
10. The positive effect of social media on mental health
The introduction of social media was a positive move for society. With so many people now being able to connect with each other via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, millions more have developed stronger relationships through shared interests and common backgrounds. The ability to message instantly has also helped individuals feel less isolated; if a friend is having a hard time or feeling down, there is always someone ready to help who can reach out at any hour of day or night. These benefits continue as our dependence on social media grows; what will happen when we all begin living our lives almost exclusively online? The human brain is resilient; it can overcome anything given enough time. This will not be easy but with such an influential resource right at our fingertips, overcoming mental illness will be easier than ever before.
There are already countless success stories from those who were once suffering from depression or anxiety but were able to find happiness again thanks to social media. Imagine how much more powerful these sites could become in just a few years! In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a huge role in assisting those suffering from mental health issues by providing them with new methods of therapy and treatment options that would otherwise be inaccessible. While AI may never replace real-life interaction, they do provide us with unprecedented opportunities that can make life better for everyone.