By Daniela Torres
Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, and while it has brought about a lot of positive changes, it has also raised concerns about its effects on young adult mental health.
As someone who is concerned about the welfare of young adults, it is important to address these concerns that will affect my generation. The impact of social media on young adult mental health cannot be ignored. One of the biggest negative effects is the impact on self-esteem.
Social media platforms encourage users to present an idealized version of themselves, and this can lead to young adults feeling inferior or inadequate when comparing themselves to others.
Interestingly noted psychologist Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson wrote in Psychology Today, “Last year, a large group of media psychologists from the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland, including myself, published a large meta-analysis of studies examining screen time and social media impacts on mental health. We found little evidence social media or other screen use worsens mental health.”
It is not surprising at all that nowadays many young adults are experiencing anxiety, depression, and poor body image as a result of social media use.
Another issue is the potential for cyberbullying. With social media providing anonymity, it has become easier for individuals to bully and harass others online in many ways, which we have recently seen with transphobia and political differences.
This can have a significant impact on young adults’ mental health, leading to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.
This is significant when you consider that according to an analysis by the Kaiser Foundation, data revealed that in 2023 half of young adults ages 18 to 24 have reported anxiety and depression symptoms.
Social media can also lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially when young adults spend too much time on social media instead of interacting with people in person.
Social media can create a false sense of connection, leading young adults to believe they have more friends than they actually do and this can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, especially when virtual connections are not maintained in real life.
Overall, social media can have a significant negative impact on young adult mental health, including impacts on self-esteem, cyberbullying, and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Lawrence Robinson and Melinda Smith, M.A. wrote about the role social media plays in mental health and they say “if you’re spending an excessive amount of time on social media and feelings of sadness, dissatisfaction, frustration, or loneliness are impacting your life, it may be time to re-examine your online habits and find a healthier balance.”
While social media can be a useful tool for communication and information sharing, which is very convenient in today’s world of fast-moving tech, it is crucial that young adults are aware of the potential risks and take steps to protect their mental health.
They should strive to strike a balance between online and offline activities, limit their time spent on social media, and seek help when necessary. By doing so, they can enjoy the benefits of social media while avoiding the potential negative effects.
Daniela Torres is a student at Dallas College.