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Social Dilemma: Social Media and Your Mental Health

The social media platform Instagram made headlines last year because it suppresses comparisons and hurts the feeling associated with attaching popularity to shared content by suppressing likes. But are these efforts combating mental health problems, or are they just putting band-aids on wounds?

This is a small step in the right direction. Even if you delete the like, you still have the opportunity to compare and give feedback. People can still compare themselves with others, and people can still comment.

Reward risk

Social media is intensive. Use it to activate the brain's reward center by releasing dopamine, a feel-good chemical associated with pleasurable activities such as sex, food, and social interaction. These platforms are designed to be addictive and are related to anxiety, depression and even physical illness.

According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teenagers in the United States use social media. This puts a large population at an increased risk of feeling anxious, depressed or sick due to social media use.

But what makes users change their minds, even if it does make them feel uncomfortable?

When the outcome is unpredictable, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Think about slot machines: if gamers know that they will never make money by playing games, then they will never play. The idea of potential future rewards keeps the machine in use. The same is true for social media sites. People don't know how many likes a picture will receive, who will "like" the picture, and when the picture will receive likes. The possibility of unknown results and expected results allows users to keep interacting with the website.

In order to enhance self-esteem and feel a sense of belonging in social circles, people post content hoping to get positive feedback. Combine that content with the potential future reward structure, and you get a way to constantly check the platform.

When commenting on other people’s social activities, people tend to make comparisons. For example, do I get as many likes as others? Or why this person doesn't like my post, and the other person likes it? They are looking for verification on the Internet to replace the meaningful connections they might make in real life.

FOMO-fear of missing out-is also important. If everyone else is using social media sites, and if someone doesn’t join, worry that they will miss jokes, connections, or invitations. Lack of experience can lead to anxiety and depression. When people go online to check that they are excluded from an activity, it affects their thoughts and feelings, and affects their bodies.

A 2018 study in the United Kingdom linked social media use to reduced sleep, interruptions and delays, which are related to depression, memory loss and poor academic performance. The use of social media can more directly affect the health of users. Researchers know that the connection between the brain and the gut can transform anxiety and depression into nausea, headaches, muscle tension and tremors.

Fragile digital age

The earlier teenagers start using social media, the greater the impact of the platform on their mental health. This is especially true for women. Although adolescent males tend to express aggression physically, women express it by ostracizing others and sharing harmful comments. Social media increases the opportunities for such harmful interactions.

An example of a seventh-grade student whose best friend chooses a new best friend and posts a picture of them in a movie or weekend trip. Twenty years ago, this girl might have been excluded from the activities of her best friend, but she might not know unless she was told explicitly.

In addition to providing young people with a window to view missed experiences, social media also distorts appearance and reality. When teenagers’ bodies change, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat increase the likelihood of seeing unrealistic, filtered photos.

In the past, teenagers would read magazines containing edited photos of models. Now, these images can be scrolled by thumb at any given time. Apps that provide users with spray guns, teeth whitening, and more filters are easy to find and easier to use. It's not just celebrities who look perfect, everyone is like that.

When filters are applied to the digital world, it may be difficult for adolescents to distinguish what is real and what is not. This is a physically and emotionally difficult time for them.

Middle school has posed a challenge to all the development and changes of students. When they enter puberty, their task is to establish their identity when the frontal lobe of the brain is not fully developed and impulse control is lacking. All of this happened when their relationship with their peers became more important. This is a very vulnerable group of people who can access things that are not expedient before they post or press the send button. I think this is something that needs attention.

Adults are also very vulnerable. In recent years, plastic surgeons have seen more and more patients want to look like their filtered Snapchat and Instagram photos. An article published in the New York Times in June 2018 tells the story of a newlywed couple who almost separated after their honeymoon. The reason is: the wife spends more time on travel planning and selfies than she and her husband spend.

How does the platform change?

Social platforms have positive aspects. For example, they allow people to keep in touch with family and friends around the world. She is aware of the potential flaws of completely banning young people from accessing websites that have become part of their generation's lives—not only to keep them informed of recent gatherings and conversations, but also often as an expected source of announcements and news. These platforms have opened Pandora's Box because they are developing faster than we can study their impact.

We need to take a step back and examine the role that technology plays in our society as a whole. People need to be satisfied instantly and stay at home instead of going to local shops or cinemas to interact with the community. Even dating apps will reduce the motivation of single adults to reach other people in the community if they think they can contact them on the app first.

In addition to restricting likes like Instagram, social platforms also consider completely reducing public sharing. By emphasizing one-to-one communication, they may act more as messaging services. However, no matter how likely the social media giants are to change their methods, individuals can control their behavior.


People usually don’t change the way they use social media just because they hear that social media is bad for them. It is better for individuals to see what their limits are. It may be unrealistic for most social media users to quit completely. However, they can monitor their behavior to see how their use affects them and how to take action.

A person experiences impostor syndrome when he or she has long-term self-doubt and is exposed as a "fraud" in terms of success and intelligence. Whether it’s another beautiful holiday or someone’s bouquet, my thoughts changed from "Why not me?" to those things that I shouldn't get, I don't know why, it makes me feel bad.

We should encourage people to rate their emotions on a scale of 0-10 before and after using social media sites at the same time each week, and conduct their own behavioral experiments, where 10 is the strongest emotional experience. If you find using them After you feel less happy, you might consider changing the way you use social media sites, such as reducing the time you use them and doing other activities you like.

A 2018 study by the University of Pennsylvania showed that this kind of self-monitoring can change a person's perception of social media.

Researchers for this study observed 143 undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to two groups. The first group was asked to limit Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to ten minutes per day on each platform, while the second group was asked to continue using their social media for three weeks as usual. Compared with the group who continued to use social media, the loneliness and depression of the limited group were significantly reduced during these three weeks.

Compared with the beginning of the study, the anxiety and fear of missing out in both groups were significantly reduced.

I would love to say that my use is completely healthy, but I find that I am still comparing with others. Now I can recognize what will help or hurt my mental health. My therapist and I agreed that I will limit my app usage to two hours per day on all platforms. Now I know when to quit and take care of myself.

Set a good example

Parents can make a plan for how much time family members spend on the device. Strategies like this teach children healthy media use and good sleep hygiene.

When teenagers start using social media, parents can ask them to hand over their phones at night and understand that parents can view posts and messages. This helps parents understand the situation, because sometimes young people share their struggles online without their parents knowing.

Surveillance also encourages teenagers to remember that everything they share online is a permanent fingerprint. If they don't want their parents to see it, then it should not be published.

Some families have changed the way they use social media. Try a policy that prohibits selfies or stipulates that children can post photos of tangible objects but not themselves. In this way, children can share their experiences without having to emphasize their appearance.

A common argument is that when children say they missed opportunities because of restricted mobile phone use-they are not allowed to be on the platform or cannot go online after a period of time.

The frequency with which parents use electronic products can set the tone for what their children allow. If you want your kids to put down their phones during dinner, this is more likely to happen if you do the same.

Parents should remind their children that good friends will find ways to spend time with them. Find a way for children to talk to each other to get away from those FOMO feelings and participate in social interactions. If teenagers know that they cannot use their mobile phones or are not allowed to access websites used by their friends after a period of time, then they can ask their friends to tell them about any plans when they meet at school or call one of their home phones or parents’ phones so that they can remain included.

The way parents use social media is a role model for their children. A review of research conducted by the University of Texas on the use of mobile devices by parents when interacting with their children found that mobile use can lead to parental distractions, increased attention when parents are distracted, and conflicts with other caregivers.

The frequency with which parents use electronic products can set the tone for what their children allow. If you want your kids to put down their phones during dinner, this is more likely to happen if you do the same.