How Social Media Affects Students Mental Health

May 20, 2021

Knowing how social media affects students’ mental health can be a real challenge. It seems social media is increasing students’ anxiety and depression, outweighing any positive benefit it could potentially give. This guide gives you more detail about the social media effects and how you can solve them.

Social media does have a positive effect on students, whether by teaching social skills or strengthening relationships. The use of these social platforms regularly can also have a negative impact, particularly on young users’ mental health and well-being. 

Parents, students, and teachers must understand the impact of social media, particularly the risks these services pose to their mental health. This guide provides tools and tips to strengthen students’ social networks and improve their overall mental wellness.

Role Of Social Media Play on Mental Health

Our mental health and our happiness are very affected by the strength of our connections, which is why we need the company of others to thrive in life. Having a real conversation with others can reduce anxiety, depression and stress, provide comfort and joy, increase self-esteem, prevent loneliness, and even add years to your life. On the other hand, a lack of strong social connections can negatively impact your mental and emotional health.

Many students use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube to find and connect with others in today’s new generation. While each has advantages, it is essential to remember that social media can never replace real-world human connections.

It takes face-to-face contact with others to activate the hormones that reduce stress and make you feel healthier, happier, and more positive. Investing more time on social media, even though it is intended to bring people closer together, it can make you feel more lonely and isolated. It can also bring mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

How Social Media affects Mental Health

If you research the current status of social media, you will find that it has a more negative impact than a positive. While students use social media to connect with others and form friendships, they also face trolls, toxic comparisons, cyberbullying, and sleep deprivation. Spending more time scrolling on social media can result in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Here’s how social media affects student’s mental health:

Making Comparisons

Social media is known for posting great photos and putting status. Even though many students are aware that their peers only share their highlight reels on social media, it is difficult to avoid making comparisons. Everything from physical appearance to life successes and failures is evaluated on social media.

Less FaceTime

Even students need to practice social interaction skills daily. When students spend more time online than in person, it is difficult to develop empathy and compassion. Human connection is a powerful tool for developing skills that will last a lifetime.

Having Too Many Fake Friends

Following and collecting thousands of friends have become a trend on social media. Students make new friends on social media through friends of friends. More people on the friend list means more people can access your snaps, personal details, and use them for other purposes. 

Focusing On Likes

The desire to gain more likes on social media can lead to students making bad decisions. Such bad decisions include accepting risky social media challenges, changing their appearance, and engaging in negative behaviors.

Cyberbullying

Through social media, girls are more at risk of cyberbullying than boys. Cyberbullying is linked to anxiety, depression, and an increased risk of suicidal thoughts. Many students report being bullied on social media, and many other users receive offensive comments. Social media platforms like Twitter can be a hotspot for spreading lies, hurtful rumors, and abuse that can leave long-lasting emotional scars.

The Impact of social media on the mental health of students

According to a recent Pew Research Center, 95% of teenagers own a smartphone, and 45% say they are online almost constantly. Around 70% of teenagers use Snapchat and Instagram, while 85% use YouTube. Many researchers are still trying to fully understand the effects of social media. Although social media can be an effective teaching tool, many researchers are concerned about its role in increasing student’s anxiety and stress. 

Many potential risks of social media’s impact on students’ mental health are overlooked by teachers, parents, and the students themselves. According to the ADAA, a teen’s obsessive use of social media can result in impulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruption of proper mental functions, paranoia, and loneliness.

Research has shown that excessive use of social media can have negative effects on mental health. Here are some ways in which social media can impact the mental health of students:

Depression

Researchers are beginning to investigate the relationship between depression and social media. While they have not found a cause and effect relationship between social media and depression. Moreover, they have discovered that social media use can be associated with an intensification of depression symptoms, such as decreased social activity and an increase in loneliness.

Moreover, a study published in Computers in Human Behavior discovered that using social media sites is more strongly connected with depression than the amount of time spent online. According to the study, people who had more than seven social media accounts impose three times the risk of depression.

Anxiety

Most students are emotionally invested in their social media accounts. They are under pressure to respond quickly online and also have well-written posts, and perfect photos — imposing anxiety. Indeed, some studies have found that the larger a teen’s online social circle, the more anxiety they feel, keeping up with everything online.

Furthermore, if students make a mistake online, this can be a significant source of stress. Many students, particularly girls, are concerned about what others think of them and how they react when they see them again. When you add in cyberbullying, slut-shaming, and other nasty online behaviours, it’s easy to see why social media is a natural source of anxiety for many students.

Sleep Deprivation

Students may spend so much time on social media that they begin to lose valuable sleep. As a result, sleep deprivation can cause poor grades, moodiness, overeating, and exacerbate existing problems such as anxiety, depression, and ADD.

In a survey, it was discovered that one-fifth of the students wake up almost constantly during the night to check social media. The study also showed that girls were significantly more likely than boys to wake up and check their phones for social media. Besides feeling irritable and tired, a lack of sleep can lower the immune system and increase the likelihood of becoming ill.

Envy

While jealousy and envy are natural emotions, they can harm a student’s brains if they keep dwelling on what someone else has or has experienced that they do not. Most young people tend to post only the good things that happen to them or make light of the bad with amusing anecdotes. The reader may believe that other people have more exciting lives than they do.

Unfortunately, many young students are unaware that people only post their highlight reels on social media and keep difficult experiences off the Internet. While another person’s life may appear to be perfect online, they struggle just like everyone else. It is easy for students to fall prey to the comparison trap and believe that they’re not good enough. As a result, anger, loneliness, depression, and various other issues can arise

If envy is not addressed, it can lead to bullying and mean behaviour. Also, many mean girls target others because they are envious of the target’s success, clothes, boyfriend, or a variety of other factors.

Communication Issues

While social media is a marvellous way to stay in touch with friends and family, it cannot replace face-to-face communication. Online, students cannot see or hear a person’s facial expressions or tone of voice. There is a high chance of misunderstandings when people try to be sarcastic or funny online.

Young students who prioritize social media may get distracted by taking photos that show what kind of fun they’re actually having, as opposed to actually having fun. As a result, their friendships may be hindered more.

Many young students spend so much time online checking statuses and that they forget to interact with people near them. As a result, when social media takes centre stage in a person’s life, friendships and dating relationships may suffer. As a result, it will affect student’s personal life and relationships.

Isolation

According to a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, excessive use of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat increase feelings of loneliness rather than decreases. In contrast, the study discovered that limiting your use of social media can make you feel less lonely and isolated. Also, it can improve student’s overall well-being.

FOMO

The most effective social media on students is Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). While FOMO has existed far longer than social media, sites like Facebook and Instagram appear to exacerbate feelings that others have more fun or live better lives than you. The feeling that you’re missing out on certain things can lower your self-esteem, cause anxiety, and drive you to use social media even more.

FOMO can compel you to check your phone every few minutes. It drives you to check for updates and to respond compulsively to each alert, even if it means escaping sleep at night, risking life while going, or prioritizing social media interaction over the real-world conversation.

Tips and Resources

Using Monitoring App

The more you know about your student’s social media interactions, the better you’ll be able to address any issues. There are many student’s mobile monitoring apps, such as fenced.ai, which can assist you in limiting your student’s data usage or restricting their phone use to specific times of the day. You can also change their privacy settings on the various platforms to limit their exposure to bullies or predators.

Teachers and parents can both monitor their social media handles. This non-intrusive monitoring app allows teachers and parents to gain full access to a student’s web browser history and find what they were doing remotely. This app will enable you to block harmful applications that can expose students to cyberbullying and other internet hazards.

Students are meant to focus on the class rather than on social media. This monitoring app allows you to choose when students can access their phones. Also, it offers you instant alerts when they are in danger on social media.

Limiting Time Spent on Social Media

Spending less time on social media may be the single most effective way for students to ensure that their use of the services positively impacts their lives.

Researchers published that students who limited their time on social media were more positive and had better self-images. Students who restrict their social media use are reported to be less depressed and lonely. Also, the higher levels of depressed students were likely seen to be feeling much better.

Knowing What You Feel Online is Not Real

Social media can cause students to judge their self-worth based on what others think of them. It can lead them to create a false persona to be accepted by others. It is necessary to know that everything you see online about the person is not accurate. Teachers should teach their students that what they see on social media often does not reflect reality.

People only post their luxury photos and happy moments to get more followers. Students should understand that everyone has bad days and struggle in their life. Knowing about the actual reality online can be a great tip to make students engage less on social media.

Being Aware of How Media Makes You Feel

Students naturally compare themselves to those they interact with on social media, but this can be harmful to a healthy self-image. Researchers report that undergraduate women feel worse about their appearance after viewing the social media page of someone they consider more attractive.

Social comparison can take many forms online, which can harm young social media users. Students should remind themselves that social media makes people and things appear better and more appealing than real life.

Avoid Falling into Negatively Trap

Due to social media, students are falling into a cycle of negativity. According to the National Center for Health Research, young people who feel good about themselves tend to post only good things online, creating a positive feedback loop. On the other hand, those with low self-esteem may find themselves posting only negative things, which puts them in a negative feedback loop.

FAQ’s Related To Students’ Mental Health 

  1. Why is social media harmful to students?
    Social media can never replace real world connections and spending more time on social media can make students more lonely and isolated. Face-to-face contact is required to activate the hormones that reduce stress and makes them more positive and happier. 
  1. How social media and social comparison affect mental health?

Jealousy and envy are strong emotions and they can harm student’s brains. You can’t avoid comparisons with social media. Social media is all about posting cool pictures, videos, and putting statuses. 

  1. What percentage of students suffer from mental health?

According to mental health clinicians, anxiety was the main concern of mental health for the academic student year 2019-2020 in the United States. 

About 24.1 percent of students were diagnosed with anxiety whereas 18.3 percent of students were reported to have depression. A total of 17.4 percent of students were reported having relationship problems, family problems, and stress.

Summary

Social media is a relatively new field of study that is rapidly expanding and gaining popularity. There are numerous unexplored and unexpected constructive responses associated with it. Using social media platforms can harm a student’s mental health. 

However, the extent to which social media use affects the general public has yet to be determined. High usage of social media can affect depression and anxiety in a student’s life.

Applying these tips and resources can keep students more engaged in the real world than social media. Also, it can also improve their mental health and overall wellness.

Author Bio:

Andrew Thompson: Andrew Thompson is a Professional Content Writer and a Homeschooling Teacher who enjoys writing based on actual student problems — solving them and improving one’s study skills.

Featured image created on Canva

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