Yes, Social Media is Terrible (For Your Mental Health)

Social Media Mental Health

A link between social media and poor mental health has been demonstrated before. Social media use has been associated with issues such as anxiety and depression in previous studies. Designed to be addictive, many people have difficulty putting down their phones (especially teens). However, it was always possible to argue the relationship existed because depressed and lonely people simply used more social media.

A new study makes that argument harder, by finding a casual link between social media use and mental health. The study examined the use of Facebook, Instagam and Snapchat (though, sadly, not Twitter). The researchers took a group of students, and told half the sample they could only use social media for 10 minutes per day, per platform (though 30 minutes seems still seems like a lot). They verified this by monitoring their phones. The other half of the sample were able to use social media as normal.

The result? After three weeks, the group that was restricted in their use showed decreases on measures of depression and loneliness. Put another way: the group that was asked to use social media less became happier.

It turns out, many of the Silicon Valley employees who run such companies don’t allow their children to use the services they create.

It is probably worthwhile to examine your own use, and try a social-media vacation. If your struggling with a mood disorder, deleting those apps could be a helpful, if difficult, first step.