What Can Excessive Use of Social Media Do to Your Mental Health?

By Ing Sopheap,

william-iven-19844-unsplash-min.jpgPhoto by William Iven on Unsplash

Seeing how skinny girls are popular on Instagram, a girl became obsessed with the social convention that being skinny is beautiful. She starved herself to the point that she put her health at risk. She never listened, no matter how many times she was told she was too skinny.

Until one day she woke up in a hospital and could not feed herself anymore. That’s when she realized she had been suffering from a dangerous eating disorder because of Instagram. But she has recovered after a year and learnt about the importance of self-love. Now, she no longer cares about the opinions of others.

The story is from a viral video on Facebook called “I became anorexia for Instagram”. An anonymous woman shared her painful experience to help people avoid the serious mistake she made.

As most of us are frequently exposed to social media, it’s essential to be aware of its potential negative effects.

Depression Symptoms

A study by the University of Missouri found that ‘surveillance users’ of Facebook are likely to develop depression symptoms caused by feelings of envy. ‘Surveillance users’ refers to those who use Facebook to see what their friends’ lifestyles are like and then compare them to theirs. This comparison can make them feel envy by seeing Facebook posts about expensive vacations, new houses or cars, or happy relationships.

Eating Disorders

Also, spending a lot of time on social media leads to negative body image and potentially results to development of eating disorder. This is based on a research at the University of Pittsburgh. People tend to compare themselves with the perfect bodies they see online. So, they start making unhealthy changes to their eating behaviors.

Sleeping Problems

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh suggest that there is a link between social media use and difficulty sleeping as well. The more frequently people visit social media, the higher the chances of them having sleeping problems. For example, they stay up late to post photos or get involved in heated discussions. On top of that, the bright light of the screens can disturb their sleep pattern. Not getting enough sleep will make you feel more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. Or even worse, you might develop mental disorders like depression or anxiety.

kev-costello-548721-unsplash-min.jpgPhoto by Kev Costello on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

After learning about some harmful effects of social media, I think what we see on social media is sometimes more of an illusion than a reality. People are just posting about their interesting or happy moments, while in reality they are actually facing some struggles in life too. There are ups and downs in everyone’s life, we just have to make the most out of it.

Also, it can be a good thing if you are inspired by people on social media in a positive way. Like being inspired to exercise and adjust your diet just to reach a healthy weight. But not torturing yourself mentally and physically to get the so-called ideal body.

Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we should use the platform to our advantage. For example, it can be a source of useful information or a way to stay connected with friends. So, let’s take a break from those sites and allow yourself to catch up on some sleep!


Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.

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