Is Social Media as Harmful to our Mental Health as we Think?

Okay, so we’ve all seen the articles – ‘Six Ways Social Media Negatively Affects Your Mental Health‘; ‘New Studies Show Just How Bad Social Media Is For Mental Health‘; ‘The Evil Way that Social Media Messes with Your Mental Health‘ and so on.

There’s no doubt that social media can have negative effects on mental health but, like most things, people have focused primarily on the negative, ignoring completely the positive effects social media has had and continues to have on its users.

While it may have negative effects on user’s self-esteem – social media is a reflection of our best selves and our happiest moments so people who aren’t in the same mood or mindset may be affected by our seemingly perfect life – it can also have a positive effect on our confidence levels. When we post a photo or status and it gets likes and comments, compliments and well-wishes – we feel good about ourselves.

And of course, while we tend to get envious when we see someone else living their best life online, this isn’t unusual. Though this feeling isn’t restricted to social media. When we see people in the street we might be envious of something they’ve said or something they’re wearing or who they’re with. Social media does have the power to trigger feelings of jealousy but so does talking to someone in real life who’s just back from a three-week holiday to Florida.

Social media is also thought to cause issues around memory –  it is believed that apps distort our memory. As we snap the perfect pictures, we are guilty of looking through the lens rather than experiencing the memory as it happens. Though social media can also help us remember important events and good times –  a number of social media apps have functions where you can look back on your social media posts over the years and re-post old photos and memories –  so we don’t forget things we want to remember.

Another thing which is brought up in discussions around mental health and social media usage is night-time scrolling. Before we go to bed, it’s not uncommon to have a quick check of our social profiles and this can affect how quickly we get to sleep. Though what we see when we check our phones before sleeping can positively affect us. Chatting to our s/o, friends we haven’t seen face-face for a while or to friends across different time zones is always a good way to end the day on a high.

Social media, smartphones and the internet are also thought to have made us more distracted and dependent on constant updates, information and entertainment. Though is this really a bad thing? We have unlimited amounts of information at our fingertips and as a result, we consume media daily, keeping up with news from around the world.

So, is social media as dangerous to our health as we are led to believe?

While it can of course negatively affect mental health and well-being, this has to be balanced with the positive affects – social media builds communities and allows people to find the support they need.

Still not convinced? Here’s 5 empowering Instagram accounts to follow online should you need some further support or inspiration.

@theempoweredwomenproject

Founded by Mandy-Rose Jones in 2018, The Empowered Woman Project has expanded from being Mandy’s blog to be the platform for stories told by women from all backgrounds who have faced a variety of issues. The project also hosts a podcast and a number of inclusive events as well as practising random acts of kindness wherever possible on empowerment street missions.

@letstalkaboutmentalhealth

An aesthetically-pleasing account managed by Jessica Walsh, an NYC designer and art director, Let’s Talk About Mental Health is a project which aims to help end the stigma around mental health. Made up of powerful images and touching quotes, the account is an important and empowering one.

@gurlstalk

Founded by Adwoa Aboah, an activist and model, GURLS TALK is a movement and Instagram safe space where taboo subjects are discussed, and boundaries are challenged. Subjects explored through the project are self-care, mental health, body image and sexuality among others.

@thewomensorganisation

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Words of wisdom .. 💪🏻

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A campaign for equality and empowerment, The Women’s Organisation helps to raise women’s aspirations, develop their confidence and allow them access to enterprise, employment and training. Established in 1996, the campaign has helped over 50,000 women.

@feministfightclub

Based on the best-selling book by Jessica Bennett –  a survival manual for a sexist workplace –  Feminist Fight Club is a space to empower and celebrate women and fight the patriarchy as one united group.



To read more of Siobhan’s articles, visit her page at: https://siobhandivers.wixsite.com/portfolio.





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Siobhan Divers
Siobhan Divers

20-something Glasgow-based History & Journalism graduate and freelance writer with a passion for all things creative. Covers everything from politics and sports to lifestyle, the arts and travel.

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