Influence of social media on mental health

The Influence of Social Media on Mental Health





Martha Ramsey

Saint Leo University

Research Method II: PSY 535

Instructor Andrea Goldstein

November 6, 2022










When discussing the influence of social media on mental health, first, it is pivotal to understand what social media is and the different dimensions of mental health. On the one hand, social media refers to how people can share information on various issues. Information can be shared in video, image, and audio, among other formats. The information shared via these platforms can benefit the users or have damaging consequences, such as mental issues and radicalization. Some popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Flickr. According to the Pew Research Center, over 84% of Americans will use social media in 2022, compared to 5% in 2002 ( Pew Research Center, 2022). The most used platforms in the United States are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Mental health is pivotal because it influences the decisions people make ad their participation in daily routines. Issues like trauma, abuse, child neglect, unemployment, and divorce can lead to mental health problems affecting individual functioning. Some dominant mental health issues include depression, sleeping disorders, stress, aggression, and self-denial. On the other hand, mental health incorporates three dimensions: physiological, social, and emotional well-being.

It has been argued that social media can affect users’ mental health negatively or positively. One of the highly cited benefits of social media is that the platforms offer users a high sense of privacy. With privacy guaranteed, individuals can openly discuss their woeful experiences without having too woeful experiences. In other words, social media provides a better platform for self-expression, which is not guaranteed through physical encounters. Social media also has the potential to help individuals network with others and build healthy relationships, which is crucial in reducing exposure to mental wellness. Besides connecting with individuals, social media can enable people to connect with other agencies created to deal with mental issues (Robinson & Smith, 2022). On the downside, one of the repercussions of social media on mental health is that it increases the state of loneliness because users may find themselves spending more time on social media applications than interacting with other people. Social media can also lead to body image issues, depression, stress, and cyberbullying (Robinson & Smith, 2022). This research aims to delve deeper into the effects of mental health by focusing on literature and additional research.

Research Questions

1. How can the benefits derived from social media use be augmented to suppress the risks?

2. What are the triggers of mental health issues among social media users?

3. What strategies can be implemented to reduce social media use among adolescents?


Social media users are at increased risk of depressive symptoms and anxiety.

Literature Review

Numerous studies on the influence of social media and mental health exist. This section focuses on some of the outstanding peer-reviewed articles on the issue. The review aims to broaden understanding of the issue while identifying new focus areas. The keyword used to identify these articles is social media and mental health. The articles were obtained from Google Scholar and PubMed electronic databases. All the articles were published between 2017 and the present.

Many attempts have been aimed to promote an understanding of the relationship between mental health and social media. Naslund et al. (2020) focus on the benefits and risks of using social media and propose new methods to overcome the risks. One of the benefits of social media is improving social interaction among different people in the community. Social media offers readily available and accessible forms of access for different individuals than in person-conversation. The second benefit is that social media facilitate access to peer support networks (Naslund et al., 2020; O’Reilly, 2020). These connections aim to establish meaningful relationships with different people and help to connect with agencies and groups that provide mental health services. A similar perspective emerged in the study by (Bucci et al., 2019). In the study, Bucci et al. (2019) note that social media provides digital platforms that allow people to self-monitor and self-manage in a way that face-to-face approaches have, up until now, not allowed.

One of the mental health risks associated with social media use is that it affects offline relationships. (Naslund et al., 2020) Assert that the way people use social media and their time on these platforms have far-reaching consequences on their daily lives. Other authors have also found the same in their studies. In particular, (Twenge et al., 2019) found that the use of social media among peers resulted in declining in-person social interaction. As adolescents’ use of social media increased, their in-person social interactions declined. The study was nationally representative and had 82 participants aged between thirteen and eighteen. Using social media has resulted in a sharp increase in loneliness since 2011 (Twenge et al., 2019). These findings show that social media can affect individual mental well-being.

Another risk of using social media is that it can lead to hostile interactions that trigger mental health problems. In the past, many social media users have become victims of social media use. One of the widespread phenomena on social media is cyberbullying, where specific groups are targeted by hateful messages (Naslund et al., 2020). Studies show that cyberbullying disproportionately affects females more than males (Naslund et al., 2020). Cyber-bulling has the potential to cause depressive symptoms among victims. Further, cyberbullying can potentially worsen anxiety symptoms for young users and females (Naslund et al., 2020). Hence, social media use can trigger mental health problems.

While the effects of mental illness are well-elaborated, as seen in the literature, other studies found no connection between social media use and mental health problems. (Coyne et al., 2020) studied the effect of spending time on social media platforms on the mental wellness of participants. The study was longitudinal and was conducted for eight years. There were 500 participants in the study, and data were collected annually through a questionnaire. The participants were aged between 13 and 20 years. The results showed that increasing time spent on social media did not affect an individual’s mental wellness. Consequently, the authors recommended further studies on the same subject.


The literature on social media and mental health is inconclusive. On the one hand, some studies have found numerous benefits associated with social media use. These benefits include facilitating social interaction and supporting peer networks (Naslund et al., 2020). However, there are also demerits associated with social media use, including risks of loneliness, worsening anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Nevertheless, other studies do not find a correlation between time spent on social media and mental health (Coyne et al., 2020). Hence, there is a need for more research on the issue.


Research Methodology

This study will use an experimental research method to further the study on the influence of social media on mental health. The choice of this method is partly informed by the literature conducted. The primary study methods used in the existing studies are longitudinal, cross-sectional, systematic reviews, and commentaries. Among the reviewed studies, none use the experimental method to find the correlation between social media and mental health.

An experimental study is quantitative and contains a set of variables that can be kept constant during research. The study is usually conducted in a controlled environment to obtain accurate results. Subsequently, this study will be conducted in a controlled environment. Participants will be adolescents aged between thirteen and nineteen years. The individuals will be divided into two groups (25 participants each). Before participating in the research, anxiety and depressive symptoms will be determined. The aim of assessing depressive and anxiety symptoms before participation is to account for any external factors affecting study findings. The two groups will be experimental and control. In control groups, individuals will not be allowed to use social media applications throughout the study period. In the experimental group, participants must spend at least four hours daily on social media. The research period will be two months. After two months, the researcher will reassess depressive and anxiety symptoms for participants in both groups. Depressive symptoms will be determined using Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), while anxiety symptoms will be measured using Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 (GAD-7).

Analysis and Findings

The depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms scores, as measured by the respective tools, will be compared. The data will be analyzed using a t-test to find the significant values and make conclusions on the influence of social media on mental health. Suppose there is no significant difference in depressive and anxiety symptoms in control and experimental groups; the researcher will conclude that social media does not influence mental health. However, if there is a significant difference between the control and experimental groups, the authors will conclude that social media influences mental health. The researcher will offer recommendations on dealing with the issue from these findings.






















Bucci, S., Schwannauer, M., & Berry, N. (2019). The Digital Revolution and its impact on Mental Health Care. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice92(2), 277–297.

Coyne, S. M., Rogers, A. A., Zurcher, J. D., Stockdale, L., & Booth, M. C. (2020). Does time spent using social media impact mental health?: An eight year longitudinal study. Computers in Human Behavior104, 106160.

Naslund, J. A., Bondre, A., Torous, J., & Aschbrenner, K. A. (2020). Social Media and Mental Health: Benefits, risks, and opportunities for research and Practice. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science5(3), 245–257.

O’Reilly, M. (2020). Social Media and Adolescent Mental Health: The good, the bad and the ugly. Journal of Mental Health29(2), 200–206.

Pew Research Center. (2022, October 7). Social Media Fact sheet. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from

Robinson, L., & Smith, M. (2022). Social Media and Mental Health. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from,about%20your%20life%20or%20appearance

Twenge, J. M., Spitzberg, B. H., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Less in-person social interaction with peers among U.S. adolescents in the 21st century and links to loneliness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships36(6), 1892–1913.

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