In the light of Mental Health Awareness month, we’ve decided to take a look into the effects of social media on mental health. Recently, social media has been in the the hot seat with articles and studies claiming that the use of social media is directly linked to an increase in anxiety, depression, and mental health issues in children. With such bold claims making headlines, we thought we’d do a little digging of our own and share our thoughts and findings.
A recent study published by the American Psychological Association indicated that there has been an increase in the number of young adults and adolescents who reported experiencing negative psychological symptoms. While there is no evidence that proves this spike is directly linked to social media use, it does highlight that the link between social media use and mental health issues is one that is raising concern in the healthcare industry.
Another study, published in PubMed, set out to identify and summarise research examining depression and anxiety in the context of social media use. It’s findings were particularly interesting; they concluded that there are many mixed findings between depression, anxiety, and social media use. The evidence suggests that social media use correlates with mental health and well-being; but also highlights that this effect could be both beneficial and detrimental, depending on a variety of factors.
While the headlines may scare you into moving off the grid and getting rid of all your digital devices, it is so important to look at published studies and research papers in order to make an informed decision. Most studies that examined social media use and mental health aren’t able to determine if more time online in fact leads to depression or anxiety. What these studies do highlight is that the way social media is used is important!
For example, someone using social media to actively engage with like-minded people, create beautiful photography or even create an online brand could in fact improve their life satisfaction. On the other hand, some people might be more susceptible or exposed to the negative aspects of the online world, including feelings of loneliness and comparison, exposure to cyberbullying or even exposure to online predators.
In conclusion, to say that increased use of social media is the direct cause of increased mental health issues is far to simplified and under-studied. For us at Parents Corner, these studies remind us that we need to acknowledge the potential risks of social media use and be active in our approach to making sure our children use these platforms responsibly.