Social Media and Mental Health

When was the last time you messaged a relative on Facebook, Snapchat-ted a friend, liked a picture on Instagram, or tweeted a thought? It’s highly likely you have used one of these social media platforms to engage with people in the world around you.

The rise of social media has undeniably been observed across the world. As human beings we are apparently more connected than ever before. The advantages of social media are numerous, including increased connectedness, visibility, and availability of information. For most, social media has become an integral part of their daily routines.

Despite its advantages, studies increasingly have demonstrated a link between social media use and poorer mental health. For instance, a recent study randomly assigned 143 undergraduate students into two groups. One group was asked to maintain their regular use of Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, and the other group was asked to limit the use of each platform to 10 minutes per day for a maximum of 30 minutes per day. As expected, the results suggest that people who limited their time spent on social media showed significantly less depression and loneliness after a three-week period. This can possibly be explained by the reduction in comparing oneself to others on social media, and thus, feeling more positive about oneself. 

Even though social media is a great way to stay connected with others, reducing the usage of social media has the paradoxical effect of helping people feel less lonely and depressed. I therefore challenge you to experiment yourself by limiting your time spent on social media and noticing the benefits it can bring you. 

Mathilde Theriault, B.A. Hons., is a clinical psychology resident at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Toronto and a candidate in the Doctor of Psychology program (Psy.D.) at the Universite de Moncton in New Brunswick. She provides psychological treatment and assessment services to individual adults and couples in the areas of depression, anxiety and stress, trauma, personality disorders, and relationship difficulties.