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The Real Effects of Social Media on Mental and Physical Health

1 month ago

1454  0
Posted on Jun 17, 2024, 12 p.m.

The world we live in today has become increasingly connected, thanks to social media. However, the widespread and intense use of social platforms has raised concerns regarding their impact on mental and physical health.

Let’s take a look at statistics showing how people consume social media on a daily and monthly basis:

  • There are over five billion people on social media in 2024.
  • 69% of adults and over 80% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media.
  • On average, social media users engage with 6-7 different platforms each month.
  • People spend an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes per day online.
  • Short videos (less than one minute) capture the most attention of 66% of social media users.

Numerous studies and expert opinions have been conducted on this topic. In this article, we will explore the real effects of social media on our well-being. Also, discover some ways to prevent the negative impacts of social media at the end of this article.

Social Media Effects on Mental Health

Social media platforms are a place where people mostly share things about themselves. We can see numerous content, such as selfies on Instagram, YouTube videos, and achievements on Facebook.

However, online platforms often reward self-promotion and attention-seeking behaviors by counting likes and comments, for example. On one side, this encourages narcissistic behavior, which is when someone has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. 

Users may highlight their own lives and accomplishments as a way to seek validation and boost their self-image. This behavior also happens to individuals with lower self-esteem in real life.

In other words, people who feel less confident about themselves in real life might use social media more frequently to create a more flattering or idealized version of themselves online. 

When they look at others' achievements, they can get stressed and force themselves to have the same or better accomplishments. This "racing" culture can lead to severe depression and anxiety.

Social Media Effects on Physical Health

We use smartphones, tablets, or computers to explore social media. These devices produce blue light through screens, which can cause eye strain, especially in prolonged use. 

Blue light can disturb the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. As a result, excessive screen time before bed can make falling asleep difficult and may contribute to neck pain and other sleep disturbances.

Poor sleep, whether in quality or quantity, is connected to several physical health problems. For example, not getting enough sleep can increase heart disease risk. It can also lead to high blood pressure, which is another serious health issue. 

Over time, poor sleep can contribute to early mortality, meaning a shorter lifespan. Meanwhile, on a daily basis, those who sleep less are more likely to be less productive and focused during the day.

How to Prevent These Effects

Now it's important to have a healthy habit by prioritizing mental and physical health. Preventing ourselves from using social media for too long is a way to have a balanced life.

However, minimizing the effects highlighted above requires more than strategy. Consistency is no less important in building a new habit of reducing screen time use. 

Regular screen breaks: Regularly break from screens throughout the day to reduce eye strain and mental fatigue. You can also leverage day-off to really break free from any device.

Prioritize quality sleep: Implement sleep hygiene, such as avoiding screens before bed, to reduce blue light emissions that can disturb your sleep.

Set boundaries and promote a balanced life: Encourage yourself to have a balanced lifestyle that includes offline activities. Try indulging in activities like exercising, doing hobbies, and spending time with your loved ones.

These three easy steps are very practical and prevent over-reliance on social media. They also encourage you to improve social interaction and seek entertainment from your surroundings. 

If necessary, practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises. Mindfulness can help manage stress and anxiety triggered by social media use.


It may sound impossible to cut ties with all social media platforms today. While it seems like so, we can still prevent prolonged use and addiction to these online platforms.

It’s also crucial to have boundaries and set limitations to social media usage for our health. Long-term screen use, especially on social media, can lead to anxiety, depression, selfish behavior, and even physical pain.

Many research studies and expert opinions have discussed this issue. So, let’s invest in a more balanced and wiser lifestyle by limiting social media use and engaging more in healthy physical activities.

This article was written for WHN by Andre Oentoro who is the co-founder of Milkwhale, an infographic design company.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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