How Much Does Social Media Effect Our Mental Health?
By Alysha Pluta, Contributing Writer
Imagine this: you spend over eight hours a day on social media. Scrolling through posts, comparing your life to the lives of others, seeing things that make you question our society, your life, etc. and wonder: will things ever get better?
It takes a toll on you.
It’s hard seeing all those things at a constant. Everybody has this technology right at their fingertips and some have nothing better to do than tear others down. It’s difficult to watch.
It’s even more difficult when it’s happening to you.
There’s so much out there on social media that can negatively affect mental health. Many times, people are unaware of it until the toll gets to be too much, which can be very harmful.
But how much do La Roche students notice these changes in their mental health?
A recent survey showed that 68 percent of La Roche students notice a difference in their mental health after spending time on social media.
The Redhawk Post conducted the survey in late September and early October.
Out of the 100 students surveyed, 65 were female, 31 were male, and four were nonbinary or genderfluid. The students that took part in this survey were between the ages of 17 and 26.
The Redhawk Post asked students to rate how much social media impacts their mental health based on a scale of one to five. One meant social media hasn’t effected their mental health noticeably. Five meant it has impacted them and their mental health greatly.
Fifty-eight percent of students chose either a four or a five, meaning they have noticed a change in their mental health because of social media. Out of the 100 students surveyed, 14 of them said it hardly impacts them.
Twenty-one-year-old, Gracie Crim said: “Social media has changed over time. It used to be a platform to exhibit things in your life: vacations, selfies, siblings, new jobs, etc. Instagram specifically has transformed into a big self-image platform. When scrolling through Instagram specifically it is constant pictures of which are edited. People see these images and they begin to question how they feel about themselves. It is horrible for this generation specifically as they also are the generation that is more open about mental health issues they have.”
The survey asked students which social media accounts they have. It provided the options of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok, and Twitter.
One 21-year-old student said he used to have all the social media platforms the survey listed. But after using them for over eight hours a day, he said he decided it was best to delete them.
“It’s been a blessing since I got off of social media,” he said.
The rest of the 99 students surveyed said they currently have accounts on between one and five of the social media platforms the survey mentioned.
It also asked how long students have had their social media accounts. Thirty-eight percent of students said they had their social media accounts for six to seven years.
Another 30 percent of the students reported having their social media accounts for over eight years. Twenty-one students said they had social media accounts for four to five years. And eight said to have had them for three years or less.
Fifty-seven students admitted to spending between three to five hours per day on their social media accounts. For some this is necessary. Madeline Riccardi, junior English major said, “I have a job in social media, so it really matters.”
For some, those three to five hours can take a mental toll. Fifty-three percent of students admitted that they occasionally feel mentally drained after spending too much time on social media. Junior English major, Max Robinette said, “Social media is like an emotional rollercoaster sometimes.”
Michelle Bischak, 26, said, “We need to get back to social interactions and in person conversations. Putting our phones down can benefit our physical, social, spiritual, and mental health.”
Five students commented that their mental health changes depending on what their social media feed for the day is. “The only time I find happiness from social media is seeing my friends do things that make them happy, watching a show or listening to music,” 19-year-old Paola Otero said.
Out of the students surveyed, five said they’ve never noticed feeling mentally drained or exhausted after being on social media.
The survey asked if the effect of social media on students’ mental health is good or bad; 57 percent of students responded neutrally. Thirty-one students said the effect was either bad or very bad and 14 said social media benefited their mental health.
Do students need a certain number of likes, comments, shares, etc. on their posts to feel validated?
Sixty-one said they do not need interactions on their posts to feel validated and another 21 percent said they did. Eighteen percent of students surveyed said they do not post.
Students gave mixed responses when asked if they ever find themselves comparing their lives to the people they see on social media.
The survey asked them to rate this on as scale of one to five. One meant they never compare themselves to others’ social media pages and five was they always find themselves doing it. The results were:
- 17 students rated it a one
- 17 students rated it a two
- 29 students were neutral, rating it as a three
- 26 students rated it a four
- 11 students rated it a five
It also asked how social media effects students’ self-image.
Delaney Brining, 19, said, “Depending on post I see on my social media. Some affect me negatively, some positive. For example, people showing workout affects me positively because it motivates me more but for bikini pictures and other things, I sometimes feel down about myself.”
Really interesting article. One of the students in my research writing class is writing a paper on this issue, so I hope he reads this article. Personally, I’ve gotten rid of most of my social media accounts (I used to be on Twitter, Facebook, and–very briefly–Instagram) because they take too much time away from activities I consider important. Plus I’m angered by the revelations about how social media companies purposely manipulate users into reading misinformation and disinformation, so I decided not to let these corporations manipulate me!