How Social Media Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us

While social media can offer positive experiences to users, it also presents users with some not-so-great things.

As humans, we crave connection with others. Positive relationships have a big influence on our mental health. Being socially connected to others leads to positive health benefits, including greater feelings of joy and happiness, improved self-esteem, and less feelings of loneliness.

In today’s world, we often find ourselves, as well as our adolescents, turning to platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter to connect with others. While social media can offer positive experiences to users, it also presents users with some not-so-great things. Let’s explore how social media helps, hurts, and hooks us.

How social media helps:

  • Connects us to family and friends: It really is amazing how easily we can stay up-to-date on all the happenings with some of the most important people in our lives.
  • Connects us to communities and people with shared interests: How great is it that you can find a group of people (all over the world!) who you share common interests with online? 
  • Provides an outlet for creativity: Social media platforms like Instagram and Youtube, allows people to share their passions. Furthermore, it simultaneously allows others the access to enjoy and celebrate those passions through social content shared. 
  • Learn new information or find new causes to support: There’s no denying that social media, and the internet in general, really does give us limitless access to new information (the good and the bad, eh?).

How social media hurts:

  • Time-waster: Those dreaded screen-time notifications… yikes, anyone else? Check out these social media-use statistics here to really blow your mind.
  • Promotes feelings of comparison and inadequacy: Looking at a highlight reel of someone else’s life can definitely have us comparing ourselves to others.
  • Encourages social isolation versus real human-connection: Ever catch yourself sitting at the dinner table, but looking at your phone? Moments like these can be missed opportunities for some quality conversation and socialization. 
  • Potential to increase feelings of depression and anxiety: According to a study performed by California State University, individuals that visited any social media site 58 times per week or more were 3 times more likely to feel socially isolated and depressed (compared to individuals who used social media sites 9 times or less per week).

How social media hooks:

  • Constant, easy access to our phones and devices: “Hmm… why did I pick up my phone again?”
  • Notifications: There’s two types of people: those who have 1,234 unread notifications on their phone and those who can’t ignore those pesky, little, red notification bubbles. 
  • Targeted advertisements: Is my phone listening to me? No, I don’t need 5 throw pillows, thank you very much.
  • App design and human nature: It’s a little scary to think about, but many social media apps are designed with human behavior in mind. They can *literally* be addictive physically and psychologically. Read this article to learn more about social media’s effect on the brain.

Bottomline:

Social media can be fun and great, but be mindful of your social media intake– if it is exacerbating negative feelings of stress, worry, or anxiety, put your phone down. Create boundaries and limit engagement with social media platforms that may hurt your mental health and overall well being. Bonus: Modeling these behaviors for our adolescents shows them that we can enjoy social media without it ruling our lives. 

Looking for more tips and strategies to help curb social media use with your children? We like the tips highlighted in this article from California State University.


Did you know Everyday Speech has lesson plans addressing subjects including using social media, cyber bulling, and general cyber skills etiquette? Join our community of 14,000+ educators who trust us to help teach these social skills.

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