The Downside of Social Media

For many, using social media is a daily activity. There are benefits to these online platforms, such as staying connected with friends and family, but excessive amounts of time spent on social media can affect mental health and well-being.

Hiding behind smartphones and social media can greatly impact mental health. Recent studies show there’s a link between social media use and feelings of loneliness, social isolation and anxiety. If you rely only on social media to communicate with others, you could lose valuable, real-life interactions.

In addition, it’s normal to care what people think, but social media can take this to another level. Obsessing over how many people like or comment on posts can greatly impact self-esteem. In fact, some social media users become fixated on comparing themselves to others, which is linked to poor well-being and depression. For example, a 2018 study found a relationship between Instagram use and negative body image in women due to comparisons of unrealistic images.

The following questions can help you determine if social media negatively affects your mental well-being. On any given day, do you:

  • prefer to engage with people online rather than in person?
  • compare yourself to others when you’re on social media?
  • need to post to social media in order to feel validated?
  • get anxious when you can’t access social media for a few hours?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you can benefit from decreasing the amount of time you spend on social media and increasing time connecting with friends and family in person. To reduce the temptation, try turning off notifications for social media apps on your phone. You can also pick one day each week to be social media free. Once you’ve logged out, focus on things that make you happy, like spending time with loved ones, reading a book or trying a new recipe.

If you or someone you know needs to seek professional help for mental health, make an appointment with your primary care provider. Most Medical Mutual health plans cover services to treat mental illness. If you need to find an in-network primary care provider or mental health specialist, visit and click Find a Provider under the Resources & Tools tab or call Customer Care toll free at 1-800-382-5729.

Sources: American Psychological Association, National Institutes of Health, Anxiety and Depression Association of America