Besides the ability to dominate emotional and mental states, social media platforms has the power to influence, either positively or negatively, the psychological behaviors of it’s users.
Social media can dramatically help users to improve their mental health, but at the same time, can also negatively impact their psychological well-being.
Mental Health Benefits from Social Media
Though many researchers focus on the ills of social media use, there are several potential mental wellness benefits.
These benefits extend across demographics as well as appear in unexpected ways.
For millennials, who tend to dominate some spheres of social media consumption, the digital world of social sharing poses several mental health and relationship benefits.
Psychologists Adriana M. Manago and Lanen Vaughn found there are ample opportunities for friendship and happiness as younger people transition to adulthood.
Specifically, they state that younger social media users can now create stronger bonds with friends becasue they have easy access to those friends’ information and interests.
Furthermore, they maintains that these connections give users an opportunity for greater independence and autonomy, which increases their critical thinking and decision-making abilities.
These feelings of community and self-worth will definitely improve the mental health of users over the course of time.
The organization Painted Brain, which combats mental health hardships through advocacy, artistic expression, and business, outlined the ways social media can positively affect the mental health of users.
From a psychological point of view, they found many positive effects of social media on mental health, such as:
- Social integration with similar interest groups.
- Healthy and body-positive lifestyle motivations.
- The availability of support groups.
- Maintaining and building new relationships.
- An introduction into new modes of thinking.
Consequences of Mental Health from Social Media Use
While there certainly are tangible benefits to social media consumption and engagement, it’s been rightly critiqued for its tendency to have toxic effects on users’ mental health.
This kind of anxiety manifests much more severely in teens.
As licensed clinical social worker Katie Hurley found, teens online must “confront cyberbullying, trolls, toxic comparisons, sleep deprivation, and less frequent face-to-face interactions.”
In a cultural moment that stresses the importance of staying online all the time, these seemingly disconnected issues can overwhelm users and result in profound anxiety.
These negative effects on teens’ mental health illustrates the need for parents, educators, and other role models to build better models for social media engagement.
Further, according to a scholarly article published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, higher levels of depression correlate with Facebook use.
The study found the subjects’ mental health suffered with the more time they spent on Facebook, causing users to feel worse about their own positions when they compared their profiles with others.
Another article by medical doctor and cyberpsychologist Igor Pantic Echoed the finding. He stated that “prolonged use of social networking sites, such as Facebook, may be related to signs and symptoms of depression.”
As people compare their lives to so many others, they will only find that their mental health continue to deteriorate.
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