Almost everyone has a phone. Almost everyone has social media networks. And almost everyone uses it on a day-to-day basis. So, I’m sure you know what social media is, or have used social media networks many times before. YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat to name a few. Knowing that so many of us (each of these had over 1000 million active users as of January 2022 according to Statista) use social media so often, would you really blindly continue this cycle without considering what social media could be doing to our personal wellbeing?


Of course, social media is considered a tool for socialising with family, friends and lovers. It’s even in the name: ‘social’ media! Many teens believe social media is extremely important for them to keep up with their friends on a daily basis, have meaningful conversations, and share key moments in their life. And it’s not just teens that believe social media’s an important social tool. According to a Gallup poll from May 2020, 53% of adults in the USA felt that social media was a very important way to keep in touch with people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, how can a source of communication also be a source of isolation?


Well, Sherry Turkle explores this in her book ‘Alone Together’, suggesting that people have a tendency to confuse social media usage with authentic communication. She explores how people generally act differently online and are less afraid to hurt others. Further, social anxiety – the fear of missing out – has led to teenagers spending too much time engaging with social media sites, causing detachment.


With social media, it is easier to hide behind a screen – it is easier to catfish, stalk, and bully others online. According to the i-Safe Foundation, over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying. Appalling, right?


Have you ever compared yourself to others you see online? They might seem to have perfect skin, or a nicer shaped nose, or a body shape that you wish for. Naturally, people tend to compare themselves, and their own lives, to online influencers. While you lay in bed, they’re on a beach in some tropical place. A study produced by King university showed that 87% of women and 65% of men compared themselves to images found on social media. Social comparison is awfully common.


Promoting body positivity combats these negative effects, e.g., the use of the tag #instagramvsreality. These tackle the prominent issue of body dysmorphia, predominantly caused by what we see online.


No doubt, social media is inescapable. Everyone has a tinge of that fear of missing out – a tinge of social anxiety. It’s perfectly normal in today’s society. But please be aware of the effects social media can have on your physical, mental, and social health and well-being. After all, you are using it pretty much every day, aren’t you?