Social Media affects on mental health


In fall of 2010, an app launched that changed the course of our lives for better, and for worse. Instagram officially launched in October of 2010, and began to quickly gain popularity with 1 million users in two months. Suddenly it became much easier to stay connected and chat with friends, so what’s the harm in that?

Everyday millions of people post to their pages to show off their lives, hobbies, or anything and everything they wish to share with the world. With all of the content we are exposed to, we start to question ourselves and if what we have is good enough. If we are good enough. Just like that social media goes from catching up with friends to creating unrealistic standards for society. 

Celebrities post their outfits and teenagers begin to believe that they need to have cooler outfits, that “perfect” body, and millions of likes on their posts just to be viewed by others as “cool”. As a society we become so caught up in how others view us that we forget to be ourselves and instead be who we think people want us to be. 

Not only are there many of these unrealistic stereotypes put on kids but there are also multiple forms of what Pew Research Center calls “abusive online behaviors.” 59% of teens in the US say they have been a subject of cyberbullying in some of the following areas; name calling (42%), false rumor spreading (32%), receiving explicit images without consent (25%), constant asking of their whereabout by people other than their parents (21%), physical threats (16%), and having explicit images shared of them without their consent (7%). 

Infographic by Addison Rohr

Another huge impact social media has on teens is creating the fear of missing out, or FOMO. They see all of their classmates’ posts and feel left out when they weren’t invited to certain events or couldn’t attend. 

Social media creates a stigma around what our lives should look like. We begin to lose our sense of individuality when all we are worried about is if our post will get enough likes, or if the edits we make to our pictures so they all “go together” that we forget to live our own lives and post what we want to post and share what we want to share. 

Instagram recently added a feature where the user is able to turn off the shown number of likes on a post. This is to help reduce the anxiety around the magic number of likes someone “should” get on their picture to be seen a certain way by classmates. I believe this is a step in the right direction but we are still very far from significantly reducing the amount of mental health crisis’ each day caused from social media. 

If you are ever struggling with comparing yourself to others or feeling left out, distancing yourself from social media and finding something you enjoy doing such as a hobby. This will help bring your mind away from those negative thoughts and into something much more positive. It is also important to remember that not everything you see on social media is real. 

Infographic by Addison Rohr

Addison Rohr, Social Media Manager