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How Can Social Media Be Harmful to Our Health?

Social media is supposed to connect us, but it can cause us to feel more alone, isolated, and lonely. Studies have shown that decreasing social media time can actually help with feelings of loneliness.

Contributing Writer
Updated Jul 21, 2022
How Can Social Media Be Harmful to Our Health?

There is no doubt that social media is popular in our society today. With social media apps, such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, there is no shortage of ways to access social media. Social media has become a staple of most people’s lives with the average person spending 145 minutes on social media every day. With high numbers of time spent on social media, one has to wonder what social media does to our health. Is it harmful or is it beneficial?

Gauging Social Media

“We're the lonely generation/A pixelated version of ourselves/Empty conversations/I've disconnected, now I'm by myself” (Echosmith, “Lonely Generation”).

Social media is saturated in instant gratification, photoshopped bodies, and perfect lives. It is hard to go on social media and not feel bad about oneself.

From my own personal experience, I know every time I open Instagram, my feed is filled with engagement announcements, weddings, baby showers, and beautiful vacation photographs.

In years past when I would see this in my feed, it made me feel like I was lacking something in my life, or I was missing out on something. It took me a long time to realize social media is only a highlight reel.

It is very rare that somebody would share a post of themselves in tears or being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Social media is harmful to our mental health because it causes us to feel negatively about our own selves and our own lives.

Academic studies have shown that long-term use of social media has been linked with anxiety, depression, loneliness, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

From my own personal experience, I have seen that prolonged durations on social media does cause me to experience more anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

Maybe you have found this to be true in your own life too. Social media is supposed to connect us, but it can cause us to feel more alone, isolated, and lonely. Studies have shown that decreasing social media time can actually help with feelings of loneliness (Ibid.).

Furthermore, viewing that others are having more fun or living better lives than ourselves can make us feel poorly about ourselves. Seeing friends, family, and other social media personalities living out our dreams can cause us to feel crestfallen and depressed with life.

This type of feeling can fuel further social media and cause increased feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

In the modern day, it can seem as if social media has become our entire world. Social media has made it possible to connect with others without seeing them face-to-face or talking on the phone with them.

Due to this so-called advantage of social media, we as a whole have become more disconnected from others in our real lives. Instead of connecting with those around us, we disconnect from the real world and connect to the cyber world.

This can become a dangerous thing when we choose to live in the world of social media rather than engaging in real life. As Christians, we need to understand that social media is just for entertainment, and we don’t technically need it to survive.

When we spend countless hours on social media, we need to reflect on ourselves. Do we really want to look back in 15 years and find that we spent our lives scrolling through social media rather than truly living?

While there is nothing wrong with having a social media account, it can become a bad thing once we become obsessed with it and fail to live our real lives God has given us.

Generation Information 

We are now living in a time that prioritizes constant information. Through the constant bings of the cell phone, constant DM notifications, and endless emails, it can become quite stressful, and anxiety-ridden to turn on a phone or a computer.

It causes me great anxiety just to see a single email come into my inbox, much less 50 or 100. In this generational age, we have had to cope and adapt to the never-ending amount of information that is constantly being shared with us each day through social media and the Internet.

It can become overwhelming and stressful at times. This shows us that increased exposure to social media and the Internet for long durations of time can cause us to experience anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

Due to living in a social media-obsessed world, we have no choice but to cope or not be involved with it. As Christians, we have freedom in Christ, yet the Bible does warn us about not using our freedom as a cover-up for evil (Galatians 5:1; 1 Peter 2:16).

It is hard not to get swallowed into the trap of social media, but we have the power in us to set boundaries on our social media usage.

Oftentimes, the only way we can connect to family and friends is through updates on Instagram or Facebook, yet we should strive to connect with them personally by taking the time to get coffee with them or call them on our lunch break.

Only seeing friends and family through the screen of your phone or computer is isolating in and of itself. Try to reach out and connect with them on a more personal level rather than just watching on the sidelines of social media.

Mental Health Concerns

As already mentioned, social media does a number on your mental health, such as causing increased anxiety, depression, loneliness, suicidal behaviors, and eating disorder behaviors. It is best to know yourself and establish boundaries for yourself.

My word of advice is to not follow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself or causes you to experience different levels of anxiety or self-hate.

I personally don’t recommend following any fitness accounts or “health” accounts if you have a past history of an eating disorder or if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder.

Numerous “recovery” accounts are also promoting pseudo recovery, which could cause you to experience a setback in your mental health.

Even if you have never struggled with an eating disorder, I recommend you practice great caution in your activity with “health” accounts because they often promote eating disorder behaviors.

In the same way, be mindful of who you follow on social media because even friends or family members can cause you to feel anxious, depressed, or bad about yourself.

If you follow celebrities, make sure you always keep in mind that the photos, videos, or reels are most likely photoshopped and edited.

When we see photoshopped and edited photos, we often feel bad about ourselves because we don’t look like the photo that our favorite celebrity posted. At these times, it is vital to remember that these photos are airbrushed and photoshopped.

It is best to not compare ourselves or our lives to what we see on social media. Social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives, and most people are only going to post the smiles, laughs, and good times.

Don’t compare your life to a highlight reel of somebody else’s. Therefore, it has been shown through numerous academic and scientific studies that social media is harmful to our health.

It is harmful to our health because it can cause increased risks of anxiety, depression, loneliness, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. While social media was created to connect us together, it has actually caused us to disconnect from real life.

For further reading:

How Can a Social Media Fast be a Blessing?

What Does the Bible Say about Anxiety?

What Should Christian Singles Know about Online Dating?

Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Faith Over Fear! You can find all of our episodes on Listen below to our latest episode on FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out):

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/grinvalds

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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