Social Media Mental Health, Literacy, and Safety

by | Feb 8, 2024 | Mental Health | 0 comments

Social Media and mental health.

Social Media Effects on Mental Health

Over the last decade, our society has seen incredible technological advancements and developments of multiple social media platforms, which are at our fingertips. As a community, we’ve seen adolescents and young adults increase their phone a social media usage. While we have so much access to social media and the internet, we lack social media literacy and safety. 

It has been researched and proven that social media has benefits for individuals and the community. However, so many young people are using technology and social media without having the emotional and mental maturity to handle the information and content that they consume on the internet. This leads to significant risks for mental health challenges, inappropriate phone and social media usage, and even illegal usage. 

[Social media] “can enhance connection, increase self-esteem, and improve a sense of belonging. But it can also lead to tremendous stress, pressure to compare oneself to others, and increased sadness and isolation” (Zsila & Reyes, 2023). Engaging in social media allows people to connect from all over the world and consume educational or positive content. Social media can create communities of support and connection, which can improve people’s social connectedness, mood, and social functioning. 

However, social media has many risks to explore as well. Social media has much adult content that children are consuming more and more in today’s society. This poses many risks to mental health, predatory relationships, and physical safety risks. Too much social media consumption can lead to depression, low self-concept and self-esteem, anger, sadness, and social withdrawal (Zsila & Reyes, 2023). Moreover, the insurmountable notifications and text messages we receive daily can cause anxiety, feeling on edge, or even addiction (Pantić, 2014). With today’s research, there is not a true consensus on the effects of social media and mental health, but there is evidence of harm and benefits.

We need to improve social media literacy and safety. Be mindful of social media usage, content, and consumption. 

Social Media Literacy

I’ve mentioned social media literacy a few times throughout this blog, so what is it? When we think of the word literacy, something that comes to mind may be reading, comprehending, or understanding. Social media literacy is very similar and was adapted from the definition of media literacy (Polanco-Levicán & Salvo-Garrido, 2022). The definition of social media literacy is still currently being adapted, but its preliminary conception is being defined as a person’s ability to consume, produce, understand, and analyze social media content (Polanco-Levicán & Salvo-Garrido, 2022). Having social media literacy can improve our safety and create less risk to mental health challenges.

Social Media Safety

As we’ve said, social media can have many risks to our mental health and our physical safety. Parents should monitor the usage and content their children are consuming – or keep an open dialogue and answer questions to help their children understand or process what they are learning on social media. Moreover, parents should teach their children about social media literacy and safety. It is the responsibility of guardians to make sure their children are safe and consuming age-appropriate media. This can be challenging in today’s technology climate, however, fostering positive relationships with children to develop open and honest communication can help alleviate secrecy and mistrust. 

Moreover, it is important for adults and adolescents to private their accounts, change passwords at least every year, and delete and report suspicious activity on social media platforms. Other things to follow to keep yourself safe on social media are to not post travel plans, or tag locations while you’re at them, and not post personal information (full name, email, phone, address, etc.) publicly (McCoy, 2023).

Social media safety is crucial for our physical safety and health and our mental health. To protect our mental health, we can set limits and timers to shut our phones off after a certain time of day or after a certain length of time using our phones. Take breaks from social media and phone usage. Find healthy alternative activities to fill the time you may have spent on your phone, such as coloring, painting, crocheting, writing, reading, or physical exercise. Spend quality time with loved ones – you may even want to talk about and process content you’ve explored on social media.

References

McCoy, K. (2023, May 5). The dos and dont’s of social media safety. The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Pantić, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652–657.

Polanco-Levicán, K., & Salvo-Garrido, S. (2022). Understanding Social Media Literacy: A Systematic review of the concept and its competences. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(14), 8807.

Zsila, Á., & Reyes, M. E. S. (2023). Pros & cons: impacts of social media on mental health. BMC Psychology, 11(1).


*If you are looking to find the perfect provider to help you through your journey, please contact Bridgeview Clinical Service (630) 536-8073 or  email jadie@bridgeviewcounseling.com, or netali@bridgeviewcounseling.com to schedule an intake. *

*If you are looking for an internship or a job in mental health care (admin, LPC, LCPC) please email netali@bridgeviewcounseling.com to schedule an internship. *