Is Social Media Ruining Our Mental Health?

Katie Bilka, Reporter

   Your phone just lit up saying you got a notification that your favorite celebrity posted photos from last night’s awards show. “I’ve been waiting to see those!” you say to yourself. You open your phone quickly to see the post and stare at the photo for a long time, in awe at how someone could be so beautiful. You begin to wonder and think, “Why don’t I look as attractive as that celeb?” You start to scroll through all of the pictures on that page and your mood becomes more and more dispirited as each one goes by. You start to hate on yourself because you think you’re not as gorgeous, active, or respected as the celebrity is. You start to think you need to change yourself because you’re not meeting society’s standards of what a “perfect person” is like.


   I strongly believe that social media is a large factor in the majority of teenagers’ and young adults’ depression and anxiety. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults in a given year. The example scenario above is just one of many reasons why social media causes depression. Along with envy of other people, social media brings cyber bullying, stalkers, bad morals, and other threatening thoughts.

   People update their statuses on social media hourly, with topics like where they’re at, what book they just finished, what cafe they got their Chai latte at, and more (I admit that I’ve been entranced into doing this as well). This leakage of information can lead to cyber bullying and stalking. Others who think they are better than someone else may leave mean and hurtful comments. Though it usually stays mild, other cases involve severe bullying. Stalkers are people who are overly obsessed with another person to the point that it becomes unhealthy. They learn everything about a person that they can find and may even start anonymously contacting the person using a method called cat fishing: creating a new, fake identity to lure another person into their fictional life.

   The average person checks their phone 160 times per day or more. Whether it be for emails for something important or just checking Instagram to see recent posts on their timeline, people get sucked into those bright and deceiving screens, only to be betrayed later on down the road. 

   Out of curiosity, I conducted an experiment during GHS English teacher Kristina Collard’s newspaper class of 15 students seeing how many notifications and calls/texts each of them got within the hour long class period. I created three categories in which each notification could be placed in: social media, call/texts, and other notifications. Not surprisingly, the total number of social media notifications was the highest, coming to 67. There were 36 regular notifications and 31 in the calls/texts category. Subject junior Gabe Colomes said he always opens his notifications right away because he has nothing else to do, which is an unhealthy habit most people in the current technology age are accustomed to. 

   In my opinion, there are a couple of steps necessary to regain self worth and confidence in yourself. The first action is to be mindful and recognize that change in your mindset is imperative. Note all of the wonderful and unique qualities in your personality that make you, you. Secondly, acknowledge the fact that you might be in the habit of believing something that’s not true. Although it can be hard, try to differentiate fact from thought. Another suggestion is to exercise. Whether your “flaw” is not being in shape or not, working out has positively risen the levels of self esteem and improved mental health in people worldwide. If possible, give yourself some “me” time everyday, doing things you like, whether it be getting fresh air, relaxing inside with a book, or just putting yourself into a quiet and peaceful environment. Lastly, LOVE YOURSELF!!! Loving yourself is, in my opinion, the absolute key to regaining self worth. If you can’t accept yourself for who you are, then it won’t be as easy of a journey to embark on. 


*A couple of weeks go by*

   You just got home from your nearby gym that you’ve been attending for about two weeks now, with an amazing feeling inside. You sit down on your comfy couch for your daily social media rounds. After refreshing your timeline, you see that same celeb from before that got you into the negative, dark hole you got into before. Quickly, you snap yourself out of this pessimistic trance and encourage yourself that you are a wonderful human being who shouldn’t force yourself into being someone you’re not because the rest of society does. As you are reminded of this, your daily reminder to “LOVE YOURSELF:))” pops up on your phone. You smile and think, “I’m on the right track; things are looking up for me; I truly do love myself.”