The Correlation between Social Media and Mental Health

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 6
Words: 1443
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: Master


Social media has gradually become an essential part of society’s day-to-day engagements as people spend hours on popular social media platforms each day. Several entertainment contents and positive impacts accompany social media use, but they can also lead to mental health challenges. This literature review examines the relationship between mental health and social media and how emotional attachment to social media results in cognitive health-related outcomes.

The Impact of Social Media on Adolescent’s Brain Development

While social media is viewed as entertainment and enjoyment, excessive engagement in it has detrimental effects. In their research, Bajc et al. (2019) analyze how adolescents and children are increasingly using social media and how it affects their thinking patterns. The source indicates a series of negative and positive effects on children and adolescents’ future psychological well-being; however, the negatives outweigh the positives (Bajc et al., 2019). Social media can be an essential tool in providing connection and reconnection opportunities for individuals. Nevertheless, overusing it to extent of addiction may result in dire effects such as anxiety.

The methods through which people engage with social media can affect one’s daily activities and offline relationships. An article by Crone and Konijn (2018) analyzed data on social media usage and brain growth in adolescence, which revealed the sensual increase in adolescents and how neuroscience explains the association between this growth and social media usage. The article argues that adolescents have developed a high sensitivity to social media rejection and acceptance and that this has consequently protracted the growth of cognitive control and contemplative processing (Crone & Konijn, 2018). Therefore, they have become accustomed to being particularly sensitive to emotion-inducing media. The article is a proper illustration of how neuroscience can help comprehend social media’s influence on adolescents and their mental well-being and judgment formation.

Mental health refers to the state of well-being through which individuals can comprehend their capabilities, work well, and solve daily life challenges. In this respect, Bryant (2018) explores the potential physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development problems associated with using these tools on adolescents and how they transform their mental capabilities. The author further describes adolescence as the very vulnerable and vital stage of development in which youths start to create their identities and develop beneficial relationships; however, social media has had a notable influence on this area of their growth. Overall, the work is an indispensable source for looking for social networking sites affecting youths and how these sites put adolescents in danger.

The aspect of social media and its effects on mental development from adolescents’ points of view dictates that these sites are a threat to cognitive development and well-being. They may result in the causation of anxiety and mood disorders, addiction trends, and low self-esteem resulting from cyberbullying (O’Reilly et al., 2018). Literature serves as a relevant course in promoting adolescent mental well-being alongside possible effects via social media platforms. Therefore, according to the literature reviewed, despite social media being enjoyable, it negatively impacts adolescents’ mental development and the development of adults.

Social Media and Mental Disorders

Recent studies provide a systematic analysis of combined evidence about how social media has influenced psychological distress, depression, and anxiety in adolescents. Researchers have classified their findings depending on addiction, time spent, investment and activity carried out on the media platforms. In a study by Betul, McCrae and Grealish (2020), there is an argument that all four domains influence psychological distress, anxiety, and depression. According to them, social media influences self-concept, which consequently may lead to anxiety and depression. The research is both engaging and fundamentally essential in terms of explaining social media and mental disorders.

People are social beings in need of others’ companionship, and social media is a primary form of communication in the contemporary world. Through qualitative and quantitative data, Baker (2019) examines the correlation between social media and anxiety, self-concept transformations, and depression. The author discusses the implications of students’ perception of social media addiction and how they are actively engaged. The article has also explored the four major social media domains, including active use, addiction, activity, and social media time. Therefore, the article is relevant to studies concerning protective and risky pathways of social media engagement. However, it is yet to be determined to what extent social media have impacted the public. There have also been further identifications of depression and anxiety causations, which call for more exploration.

As noted earlier in the introduction, mental health disorders are heavily associated with excessive social media usage. In support, Koehler (2020) used descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests to indicate social media’s impact on specified individuals’ mental health. Although the article is mainly focused on the adverse effects of social media, it does mention several benefits brought about by utilizing such platforms. Therefore, the article informs scholars and researchers on mental health provisions and management in association with social media.

Social connection with other individuals can relieve sadness, anxiety, and stress. However, Karim et al. (2020) envision social media as a significant cause of mental health issues. They summarize the effects that continuous use of social media has on a human being’s mental health. Moreover, it shortlists and examines sixteen sources for the evaluation of quality. The outcomes of the article are divided into two categories of adverse effects, including depression and anxiety. However, the source also mentions how the regulation of time spent on social media can positively impact mental health. Therefore, the source is reliable as it is well researched and highly descriptive.

Positive Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Presently, there has been an ongoing debate about social media’s positive and negative effects on psychological health. A comparison between the benefits and disadvantages of adolescents’ social media platforms is carried out by Kennedy (2019) in his work. The article argues that social media can promote positivity and well-being feelings alongside creating a sense of appreciation and societal belonging. Social media provides the necessary health information required to build new relationships and maintain the existing ones by creating a self-identity and self-expression platform for the course. The study is essentially equipped with methods by which social media can be exploited positively. The users’ potential advantages need to be cautiously measured against the potential risks to achieve this.

In well-comprehensible mental mechanisms, including social comparison either downwards or upwards, social media significantly affects adolescents’ and young adults’ behaviors. According to Yalda (2017), the comparison may be in impression management, self-disclosure, and self-respect, affecting adolescents’ behaviors both positively and negatively. The article is an excellent source of examined and researched information concerning how social media influences adolescents’ development and the benefits and costs of their social media engagements. It is also important to note that most people on social media platforms sharing their life experiences with mental issues and seeking support from others and treatment information are dealing with social media platforms’ symptoms.

In exploring normal social behavior compared to those actively involved in these platforms routinely, it is perceived that mental health is affected by the tools’ consistent use. According to Bekalu et al. (2019), the pros and cons of using social media on mental health can be measured via its use in the community and the level of dose effects. There is a strong indication of positive associations between the two. The sources’ research findings suggest that social media and mental health might not outweigh its positive effects. The source is critical in analyzing social media’s positive characterization in terms of mental health.

A presentation of the current image of how social media has evolved into a prominent mental illness fixture for various individuals facing mental issues from all over the world is made by Naslund, Bondre, Torous, and Aschbrenner (2020) in their article. The article covers a wide range of social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedln, and Snapchat. The study indicates that individuals suffering from mental illnesses have used social media to reach out to others and offer emotional and other forms of support to those undergoing the same. Through social media sharing and providing a range of treatment options, many people have been able to access help for their mental disorders. The article is insightful, and it emphasizes social media as a positive aspect of the current world.

In conclusion, as social media continues to grow and become a daily means of communication, more research needs to be done. There is a need for society, especially the youths, to learn how to manipulate social media intelligently and develop their minds to avoid mental damage. Therefore, adolescents must understand social media’s valid engagement to build healthy relationships and monitor learning and communication without becoming dependent on it.


Bajc, A., Tomšič, Ž., Kajzar, J., Jereb, A., & Starc, A. (2019). The impact of social media on children’s mental health. Web.

Baker, E. (2019). The influences of social media: Depression, anxiety and self-concept (Master’s thesis, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois) Web.

Bekalu, M. A., McCloud, R. F., & Viswanath, K. (2019). Association of social media use with social well-being, positive mental health, and self-rated health: Disentangling routine use from emotional connection to use. Health Education & Behavior, 46(2), 69S-80S. Web.

Betul, K., McCrae, N., & Grealish, A. (2020). A systematic review: The influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), 79-93. Web.

Bryant, A. (2018). The effect of social media on the physical, social-emotional, and cognitive development of adolescents. Honors Senior Capstone Projects. 37. Web.

Crone, E. A., & Konijn, E. A. (2018). Media use and brain development during adolescence. Nature Communications, 9(1), 588. Web.

Karim, F., Oyewande, A. A., Abdalla, L. F., Chaudhry Ehsanullah, R., & Khan, S. (2020). Social media use and its connection to mental health: A systematic review. Cureus, 12(6), e8627. Web.

Kennedy, K. (2019). Positive and negative effects of social media on adolescent well-being (Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato). Web.

Koehler, S. N., & Parrell, B. R. (2020). The impact of social media on mental health: A mixed-methods research of service providers’ awareness (Master’s thesis, California State University, San Bernardino) Web.

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 Science, 5, 245–257. Web.

O’Reilly, M., Dogra, N., Whiteman, N., Hughes, J., Eruyar, S., & Reilly, P. (2018). Is social media bad for mental health and well-being? Exploring the perspectives of adolescents. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 23(4). Web.

Yalda T. U., Nicole B. E., & Kaveri, S. (2017). Benefits and costs of social media in adolescence. Pediatrics, 140(2), S67-S70. Web.