How Social Media Can Impact Mental Health
By Cassie Shortsleeve
Social media is practically a way of life. It helps us keep up with the world, connects us with others, entertains us, and sometimes hooks us in, keeping us on apps longer than we’d like. It’s easy to have a love-hate relationship with it.
Even researchers who study social media admit that its relationship with our mental health is complicated. Social media use is a hard topic to study. Most people—84% to 90% of teens in the U.S.—use it, so it’s hard to find a group of nonusers for comparison.
In general, however, studies agree that there can be negative impacts of social media on mental health. Of course, social media doesn’t impact everyone in the same ways. How affected you are by your tech use depends on your personality or temperament, how much you use it, and your age.
Research suggests that certain ages—11 to 13 for girls, 12 to 14 for boys, and around the time you leave home (18 or 19)—tend to be “sensitive periods,” or times of massive brain and life changes that could leave you especially vulnerable to some of the negative impacts of social media.