The Adverse Effects of Social Media: how do they affect our mental health and well-being?


There has been a great anxiety over the last two decades about the link between social media use and psychological issues caused by the usage. According to the Office for National Statistics (see Figure 1 below), on 2011 to 2012 in UK 7% of children reported spending over 3 hours on a social media platform on a typical school day. Despite research results showed a connection between increased social media use in the young people population and increased psychological problems in the same population, it is blurred how social media use may be related with these changes.


Figure 1Children’s times spent on social websites

The negative effect of the use of the Internet on one’s psychological health is not a newly discovered concern. Many studies talk about the rise of social media usage and its negative outcomes such as increased depression, anxiety, compulsive behavior, loneliness, and narcissism (Amelia Strickland, 2014).

 Social Media and Depression

According to Pantic et al. (2012), time that high school students spent on Facebook was positively associated with depression. Furthermore, Rosen et al. (2013), claim that people who spent more time online and those who performed more Facebook image management evidenced more clinical symptoms of major depression. Moreover, another study of American university students showed that people who use more intense social media platforms increased their feeling of loneliness (Lou et al., 2012). Based on the above studies, findings showed that young people who stated having more social media friends faced lower emotional adjustment to their college life. Also, those who spent more time on social media platforms found that they have lower self-esteem from those who spent less time.   

Social Media and Narcissism

People with high levels of social media activity were reported of having lower levels of depression but higher levels of narcissism (Rosen et al., 2013). These lower levels of depression that were found still cannot be considered as a positive effect. Furthermore, according to the American Psychiatric Association (2000), narcissistic personality disorder is correlated with an impressive sense of self-importance, self-promotion, vanity, and superficial relationships. Also, many studies showed that social networking sites worsen narcissism (Rosen et al., 2013). The more time someone spent on social media platforms and the higher the frequency of checking his/her updates, the higher the narcissism scores. 

Social Media and Anxiety

Many studies connect social media to anxiety and obsessive behavior. Rosen et al. (2013) points out that younger people, particularly the iGeneration and Net Generation, frequently check their social media platforms for new messages and updates, and when they are unable to do so, their anxiety levels increase rapidly.



American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental
disorders, fourth edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR)
. Washington, DC: American
Psychiatric Association.

Lou, L. L., Yan, Z., Nickerson, A., & McMorris, R. (2012). An examination of the reciprocal
relationship of loneliness and Facebook use among first-year college students.
Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(1), 105–117.

Pantic, I., et al. (2012). Association between online social networking and depression in
high school students: Behavioral physiology viewpoint. Psychiatria Danubina, 24(1),

Rosen, L.D., Whaling, K., Rab, S., Carrier, L.M., & Cheever, N.A. (2013). Is Facebook
creating ‘‘iDisorders’’? The link between clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders
and technology use, attitudes and anxiety. Computers in Human Behavior, 29,

Stickland, A. C. (2014). Exploring the Effects of Social Media Use on the Mental Health of
Young Adults.


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