For good or ill, there is no doubt that social media has become a staple in our world, with almost everyone having some form of account. But what are the effects of social media on mental health?

This is a question that has been debated for many years, and there is still no clear answer. However, there are several studies that have looked at the effects of social media in different age groups.

In this blog post, we will take a cursory look at the effects of social media in children, adults, and families.


The Effects of Social Media in Children


In children, social media can have both positive and negative effects.

On the positive side, social media can help children connect with friends and family members who live far away. It can also be a great way for children to express themselves creatively.

However, there are also some negatives associated with social media use in children. For example, too much screen time can lead to problems with concentration and attention span, as well as issues related to anxiety and depression.

Additionally, social media can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying, peer pressure, and low self esteem.


The Effects of Social Media in Adults


The same is true for adults, social media can have both positive and negative effects.

Again, on the positive side, social media can help people stay connected with friends and family members. It can also be a great way for people to find information and connect with others who share their interests.

But… Social media addiction is also a concern among adult users. According to one study, heavy social media users are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who do not use social media as often.

Additionally, excessive Facebook usage has been linked to a decrease in self-esteem and body image satisfaction.


The Effects of Social Media on Families


As for families, excessive social media use can create significant problems.

In the extreme cases, there have been young parents who have become so obsessed with their social media feeds that they have neglected their own children. This is certainly the extreme, but regularly in our work with kids, we hear of parents who set very different rules of phone usage for themselves than they do with their children.

Mom and Dad may require the kids to leave their phones when it’s time for dinner, but then bring their own phones to the table; the old ‘do as I say, not as I do’ trick. If you’re concerned about you, your family’s, or your child’s social media usage, there are several things you can do to limit the problem.

Here are a few tips:

  • Set screen time limits: Decide how much time each day is allowed to be spent on social media and stick to it.
  • Create rules for using social media: Establish rules for how social media should be used (e.g. no phone at dinner) and make sure everyone in the family follows them.
  • Disable notifications: Turn off notifications so that you aren’t constantly getting pinged every time someone posts something new.
  • Monitor your usage: Keep track of how much time you spend on social media each day and week, and see if there are any patterns of overuse.
  • Talk to your kids about social media: Talk to your children about the dangers of cyberbullying and why it’s important to use social media responsibly.


The bottom line is that we still need more research to understand the full effects of social media on mental health. However, what we do know is that social media can be both good and bad for our mental wellbeing.

If you or your family could benefit from a conversation about healthy social media use boundaries with a mental health provider may prove helpful. If you would like to talk to one of the therapists at Cedar Tree Counseling feel free to reach out. We’re here to help.

Matthew Hanlon

Matthew Hanlon

Men & Couples Therapist | MA, LMFT

I help men and their families, who are hurting, angry, and struggling to find their way through life’s challenges, to create real and lasting change.

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