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434- Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director:
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox Podcast, Case Management Toolbox

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– Examine the extent of social media use
– Explore the positive and negative impacts of social media on mental and physical health
– Identify resiliency factors
What Research Tells Us
– The number of social media accounts is moderately correlated inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, ODD, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, as well as fear of missing out (FoMO) and loneliness.
– Chicken/Egg-
What Research Tells Us
– Internet use in general significantly affects participation in IRL experiences.
– Increased time spent online is related to
– A decline in communication with family members (or inadequate support to begin with)
– Reduction of the internet user's social circle
– Reduction in sleep
– Increased feelings of depression and loneliness
– Chicken or egg
– Internet cause or ancillary behaviors cause-
What Research Tells Us
– People spend the majority of their time on SNS looking at peers’ profiles and photos, rather than posting or updating their own profiles
– Computer-mediated communication may lead to the mistaken impressions about physical appearance, educational level, success, intelligence, moral integrity, and happiness of other people, thus increasing depression.
– Constant self-evaluation and competition with other users, incorrectly perceiving characteristics of others and feelings of jealousy may positively or negatively influence self-esteem.

What Research Tells Us
– Technology-based Social Comparison and Feedback-Seeking (SCFS) was found to be associated with depressive symptoms when comparing people with similar levels of overall frequencies of technology use, offline Excessive Reassurance-Seeking (ERS), and prior depressive symptoms
– Stronger associations between technology-based SCFS and depressive symptoms for unpopular individuals
– May increase FoMo
– Allows for unhealthy perseveration

What Research Tells Us
– Higher psychological distress was associated with displaying depression language on Facebook and with less satisfaction with friend’s responses
– Depression was negatively correlated with how much social support participants thought they received from their Facebook networks
– Sudden cessation of online social networking (i.e., lack of Internet connection) may in some chronic users cause signs and symptoms of psychological withdrawal
– Some researchers identify that due to the wide array of activities available on SNS, it is difficult to conclude which parts contribute to preoccupation and withdrawal (gaming, FoMo, attention etc…)
– Easily reach millions of people with information to improve their health literacy
– Increase health-related behaviors through gamification and social support (Garmin,, SparkPeople)
– Allows for potential screening and early identification of problems #bigbrother
– May bring to light conversations and behaviors that existed all along IRL
– Increases communication with IRL friends at a distance

Resiliency Factors
– IRL support
– Self esteem
– A sense of belonging
– Self-awareness
– Effective communication skills
– Psychological flexibility
– Alternate sources of validation
– Understanding of the algorithms on SNS
– Fewer stranger connections
– What social media factors influence depression/anxiety in people
– Number of likes
– Whether it appears other people are happier, more successful or more popular
– Check-ins during extended absences
– Comments (support, flaming, disinhibition)
– Public presentation vs. reality
– Other factors contributing factors
– Pre-existing mood disorders
– Insufficient/ineffective IRL supports

– Social media itself is not necessarily harmful
– Social media can provide opportunities for positive interactions
– People’s reaction to social media
– May mirror their IRL activities like excessive attention seeking
– May be the opposite of RL presenting an idealized self which then makes them feel even more isolated