Monica Vermani C. Psych.

Social Networking

How your social media habits are damaging your relationships, are your social media activities causing real-life problems.

Posted August 9, 2023 | Reviewed by Davia Sills

  • Individuals are spending more time than ever on screens and electronic devices.
  • How people engage in social media can negatively impact real-life relationships with themselves and others.
  • It's important to take steps to manage one's social media engagement and care for important relationships.

We’ve all participated in or witnessed social disconnection in action… people gathered together, with gazes fixed on screens rather than interacting with one another. Screens and social media have become a part of everyday life. Social media , at its best, has provided us with many ways to connect, interact and expand our social networks exponentially. In 2022, on average, people spent 152 minutes a day on social networking … slightly higher than the previous year’s 147-minute average.

Clearly, social media is on the rise. Not just how much, but where, when, and how we engage in social media could be negatively impacting our real-life relationships. Our relationships matter. Our deep connections and close social and romantic relationships with others are key to our happiness and longevity.

What’s the problem?

Though social media has become a part of our regular lives, in terms of our awareness of and our ability to manage the impacts of social media on our relationships—our relationships with the people in our lives and with ourselves—we have some catching up to do.

“Social Media Use and Its Impact on Relationships and Emotions” (Christensen, Spencer Palmer), a 2018 Brigham Young University study , found that: “the more time an individual spent on social media, the more likely they were to experience a negative impact on their overall emotional well-being and a decreased quality in their relationships.” The study also found that social media use negatively impacted interpersonal relationships due to: “distraction, irritation, and decreased quality time with their significant other in offline settings” and that participants reported increased “frustration, depression , and social comparison” related to their engagement in social media.

Driving intimate partner disconnection

According to a 2019 Pew Research Center study , 51 percent of people in a committed relationship reported that their partner is: “often or sometimes distracted by their cellphone while they are trying to have a conversation with them, and 4 in 10 say they are at least sometimes bothered by the amount of time their partner spends on their mobile device.”

Besides the disconnection resulting from screen distractions, partners can often feel threatened by real or imagined online third parties, including rekindled connections to former partners, habitual engagement with social media influencers, and habitual use of online pornography . These forms of engagement can lead to insecurities, an erosion of trust, and relationship breakdowns.

Feelings of low self-worth

Although it is not unheard of for people to share their struggles and hard times on their social media platforms, most people present an upbeat, curated—and sometimes highly filtered and photoshopped—that is to say, unrealistic—version of their lives to their online followers. “The Effects of Active Social Media Engagement with Peers on Body Image in Young Women” by Jacqueline Hogue and Jennifer S Mills, a 2019 York University body image study , concluded that comparisons “may lead to increased body concerns in young women.” When we compare ourselves to people with out-of-reach lifestyles, career success, beauty, or wealth, these comparisons can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and hopelessness.

It is important that we build awareness of how our social media habits impact our relationships—with ourselves and the people we care about—and that we take steps to manage and take care of our time, our energy, and our real-life relationships.

7 steps to creating healthier social media habits

If your online life is negatively impacting your relationships…

Listen to what the people in your life are saying to you about your social media habits. Observe their reactions to your decreased interactions.

Build awareness about your social media habits and engagement. Make an effort to track the amount of time you spend online for a week.

Create healthy boundaries around your online activities if you find you are spending too much time on social media. Scheduling brief times throughout the day to engage in social media and silencing notifications from social media apps could be a healthy first step in curbing over-engagement.

Put some distance between you and your devices daily. Go out for dinner, watch a movie, take a walk, or meet up with friends and leave your devices behind.

Prioritize your real-life relationships. Make an effort to stay mindful of how your actions and presence impact other people, and be engaged in person with friends, colleagues, and family members.

essay on how social media affects relationships

Unfollow unhealthy, unrealistic, attention -seeking social media influencers. Social media “models” and lifestyle influencers often present a false sense of who they are and set unrealistic goals and aspirations that can negatively impact your sense of self-worth or the self-worth of your partner.

Seek the help of a mental health professional if your social media engagement has led to feelings of low self-worth or depression or if your social media usage has become unmanageable.

Monica Vermani C. Psych.

Monica Vermani, C. Psych., is a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of trauma, stress, mood and anxiety disorders, and the author of A Deeper Wellness .

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12 ways social media affects relationships, from research & experts.

Abby Moore

Romanticizing other people's relationships is not a new concept (thanks, rom-coms). Unlike a movie script, though, social media shows real couples living real lives.

But can looking at these seemingly perfect couples online interfere with our own romantic relationships? Here, how social media can affect your relationships and more.

How social media can affect relationships

Social media, if used sparingly, is not necessarily bad for relationships.

Research has shown social media use can both positively and negatively affect relationships , depending on how it's used.

For example, social media can contribute to unhealthy comparison and unrealistic expectations for what relationships are supposed to be like, and couples may spend more time curating an "image" of who they are rather than focusing on the relationship itself. 

Social media use has also been linked to poor body image and depression, which can negatively affect relationships.

Negative effects on relationships

Social media can create unrealistic expectations.

Although there are some useful resources shared via social media, "what you will mostly see are curated and filtered posts that only highlight unrealistic images of what a relationship is," says sex and behavioral therapist Chamin Ajjan, M.S., LCSW, A-CBT .

Attempting to measure up can distract you and your partner from the relationship.

Inevitably, real life won't look like the endless highlight reels we see on social media, which can lead to disappointment in either yourself, your partner, or both.

"You may begin to feel jealous of how much someone posts about their partner and feel resentment toward your partner for not doing the same," Ajjan says. "The lifestyles you are scrolling through may change how satisfied you are in your relationship because they seem to be better than what you have."

It can lead to jealousy

Some research has linked social media use with increased jealousy 1 and relationship dissatisfaction in college students.

If you are prone to jealousy because of an insecure attachment style , research says you may be more likely to get stuck in a cycle of endless scrolling to keep an eye on your partner's activities .

People may get upset seeing their partner liking or commenting on other people's posts, stoking concerns that their partner is interested in other people (or worse, is already cheating).

The use of Facebook, in particular, has been shown to increase feelings of suspicion and jealousy in romantic relationships among college students.

"This effect may be the result of a feedback loop, whereby using Facebook exposes people to often ambiguous information about their partner that they may not otherwise have access to," one study writes.

For example, cookies and Facebook algorithms can cause a partner's "hidden" interests to pop up on their feed.

The desire to find more information about them can perpetuate further social media use and feelings of mistrust.

(Notably, many of these studies have been conducted on college students, so it’s possible that there would be differences among older couples.)

Excessive social media use is linked to couples fighting more

A 2013 study found that, among couples who had been together for less than three years, spending more time on Facebook was linked with more "Facebook-related conflict" 2 and more negative relationship outcomes.

One study found that those who are dating people who overshare on social media 3 tend to have lower relationship satisfaction (though positive posts about the relationship itself every now and then seemed to mediate that effect).

Social media might make daily life seem less interesting

The drool-worthy image of a couple on vacation can trigger feelings of envy, which can keep you from appreciating where you are in the present moment. 

"Social media tends to ignore the gritty and mundane parts of a couple's lives," says Ken Page, LCSW , psychotherapist and host of The Deeper Dating Podcast .

Struggles, chores, compromise, and intimacy in the midst of challenges—these small mini triumphs are valuable, he says.

Just remember: A vacation can make you feel happy, but it's the everyday moments that lead to ultimate satisfaction .

When relationships end, it is so often those tiny, mundane moments that evoke the deepest nostalgia, Page adds. 

It can distract you from spending quality time with your partner

Though internet addiction 4 and Facebook addiction 5 are not considered mental health disorders by the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), researchers recognize both as dependence issues, which can interfere with quality of life.

The more we become hooked on the dopamine rush of social media, Page says, the less engaged or excited we will feel for the quieter, simpler moments of life.

"But those are often the moments when our loved one reveals something personal and intimate," he explains.

Next time you and your partner are together and both focused on your phones, bring awareness to that.

"Practice valuing real-time connection over internet connection," he says. This can help increase emotional intimacy. 

It can affect our mental health

Even though social media is meant to promote connection, multiple studies have linked social media use with loneliness 6 , mood disorders, and poor self-esteem 7 .

People with preexisting mental health issues may also be more susceptible to social comparisons, due to a negative cognitive bias 8 , one study found.

On the flip side, lowering social media use has been shown to reduce loneliness and depression symptoms .

Though these issues are more individualistic than relational, they can bleed into romantic relationships.

When a partner is suffering from mental health issues , they may be closed off to intimacy or become codependent .

It can lead to body image issues

The filtered and edited images you see all over social media can cause insecurities about your own body to surface, Ajjan says.

Several studies have linked social media use and body image issues 9 .

A person's body image issues can significantly affect their relationships.

One Journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine study shows that heterosexual women with body image issues 10 have a harder time becoming sexually aroused. 

Another study found the way wives perceive their own sexual attractiveness 11 , based on negative body image, directly affects the marital quality of both the wife and the husband.  

In other words, these insecurities triggered by social media can interfere with emotional and physical intimacy and the overall quality of a relationship. 

It can make us more narcissistic

Excessive social media use is linked to narcissistic traits 12 in some cases.

Research confirms that addictive social media use reflects a need to feed the ego and an attempt to improve self-esteem, both of which are narcissistic traits.

And different types of social media play into different aspects of narcissism.

For example, people who frequently tweet or post selfies may be displaying grandiosity, one of the common traits of narcissism .

Since you can be narcissistic without having a personality disorder , it's possible to develop these traits over time—and at least one small study has found excess social media use may be a trigger .  

And of course, being in a relationship with a narcissist is not healthy and can lead to trauma later on.

Positive effects on relationships

Social media helps single people meet each other.

In the digital age we live in, it's not uncommon for people to meet online or through dating apps—in fact, it may be more common.

A 2017 survey found 39% of heterosexual couples reported meeting their partner online, compared to just 22% in 2009.

A later study analyzing the results found that " Internet meeting is displacing the roles that family and friends once played in bringing couples together."

According to one survey , online dating can be especially helpful for the LGBTQ+ community .

Of the adults who took the survey, 28% say they met their current partner online, compared with 11% of partnered straight adults.

It can keep you connected to your partner

Whether it's sending a funny meme over Instagram or taking a quick Snapchat, social media is an easy way for couples to interact throughout the day in a fun, low-pressure manner.

This is particularly helpful for couples who don't live together and people in long-distance relationships . According to a survey published in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking journal, young adults in long-distance romantic relationships 13 are better able to maintain them if they're using social networking sites.

People who have their partner in their profile photo or have their relationship status public on Facebook also tend to be happier with their relationship 14 , for what that's worth.

You can learn about relationships from experts

"There are plenty of accounts that offer up good information to help develop and maintain a healthy connection," Ajjan says. "There is a lot of good information on social media from relationship bloggers, psychotherapists, and many others that highlight how to improve your relationship."

As long as it's coming from a place of growth and not comparison, this type of social media can motivate you to work on parts of the relationship that have been neglected, she explains.  

It's like a time capsule of memories

Social media platforms have practically replaced printed photograph albums as a place to store and share our memories.

In this sense, Page says social media can be used to honor the activities you do and the things you create together. 

Unlike a physical photo album, social media has the added component of followers.

"In this way, social media can be an institutionalized way to express love publicly and invite community support," he says, "both of which enhance a couple's ability to flourish." 

Tips to manage social media use

  • Turn off your notifications. One study 15 found that smartphone notifications can cause a decline in task performance and negatively influence cognitive function and concentration. Turn off your notifications to avoid any distractions and focus more on the present.
  • Set aside a time to scroll. Whether that be every hour or every few hours, designate 15-20 minutes to getting on social media, answering texts, or taking calls to avoid the constant urge to get on your phone and scroll and focus on quality time with your partner.
  • Try a social media detox. Research shows that intentionally refraining from getting on social media can prevent harmful effects and reduce the risk of compulsive social media behavior in individuals. Designate a period of days, weeks, or even months to avoid any social media use.
  • Be transparent and communicate. If you are struggling with your body-image or find yourself feeling jealous or insecure, talk with your partner and explain how you are feeling. It may be time to avoid getting on social media altogether and focus on quality time with your significant other.

The takeaway

Scrolling through social media all day is, unfortunately, not a hard habit to pick up.

While these platforms can offer helpful resources, they can also lead to jealousy, mental health issues, and unrealistic expectations in relationships.

On top of that, the act of being on your phone constantly can distract from intimacy with a partner. 

"Social media is not all bad," Ajjan says, "but if you find yourself comparing your relationship to what you are seeing online, it may be helpful to unfollow accounts that make you feel bad and focus more on accounts that make you feel empowered in your relationship."

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  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4912993/

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Dating and relationships in the digital age, from distractions to jealousy, how americans navigate cellphones and social media in their romantic relationships.

essay on how social media affects relationships

Pew Research Center has long studied the changing nature of romantic relationships as well as the role of digital technology in people’s lives. This particular report focuses on the patterns, experiences and attitudes related to digital technology use in romantic relationships. These findings are based on a survey conducted Oct. 16 to 28, 2019, among 4,860 U.S. adults. This includes those who took part as members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses, as well as respondents from the Ipsos KnowledgePanel who indicated that they identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Recruiting ATP panelists by phone or mail ensures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. This gives us confidence that any sample can represent the whole U.S. adult population (see our Methods 101 explainer on random sampling). To further ensure that each ATP survey reflects a balanced cross-section of the nation, the data is weighted to match the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.

For more, see the report’s Methodology . You can also find the questions asked, and the answers the public provided in the topline .

Amid growing debates about the impact of smartphones and social media on romantic relationships, a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2019 finds that many Americans encounter some tech-related struggles with their significant others.

Chart shows about half of Americans in romantic relationships say they deal with their partner being distracted by their phone

Partnered adults under the age of 50 are particularly likely to express the feeling that their partner is distracted by their phone, with those ages 30 to 49 most likely to report this. Fully 62% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 52% of 18-to 29-year-olds who are in a romantic relationship say their partner is at least sometimes distracted by their phone when they’re trying to talk them. Still, this issue is not confined to younger age groups: 41% of partnered Americans ages 50 and older say they have encountered this in their relationship at least sometimes.

With phones being such a distraction, people might be tempted to look through their partner’s phone. However, there is widespread agreement among the public that digital snooping in couples is unacceptable. Seven-in-ten Americans – regardless of whether they are in a relationship – say it is rarely or never acceptable for someone to look through their partner’s cellphone without that person’s knowledge. Still, 34% of partnered adults say they have looked through their partner’s cellphone without that person’s knowledge, with women being more likely than men to say they have done this (42% vs. 25%).

Chart shows younger social media users are especially likely to check up on their exes, talk about their love life on these sites

Moreover, social media has become a place where some users discuss relationships and investigate old ones. Roughly half of social media users (53%) say they have used these platforms to check up on someone they used to date or be in a relationship with, while 28% say they have used social media to share or discuss things about their relationship or dating life. For adult users under the age of 30, those shares who have used social media to checked-up on a former partner (70%) or posted about their own love life (48%) are even higher.

But social media can also be a source of annoyance and conflict for some couples. Among those whose partner uses social media, 23% say they have felt jealous or unsure of their relationship because of the way their current partner interacts with others on these sites, and this share rises to 34% among those ages 18 to 29.

Still, some users view these platforms as an important venue for showing love and affection. This is especially true for younger users who are partnered: 48% of 18- to 29-year-old social media users say social media is very or somewhat important for them in showing how much they care about their partner.

These are some of the main findings from a nationally representative survey of 4,860 U.S. adults conducted online Oct. 16 to 28, 2019, using Pew Research Center’s American Trend Panel.

Terminology

40% of partnered adults say they are bothered by the amount of time their partner spends on their cellphone.

Chart shows four-in-ten partnered Americans say they are at least sometimes bothered by how much time their partner spends on their cellphone

In addition, 24% of partnered Americans report that they are at least sometimes bothered by the amount of time their partner spends on social media, while a somewhat smaller share (15%) say they feel this way about their partner playing video games.

Chart shows women are about twice as likely as men to say they are often bothered by the amount of time their partner spends on their cellphone

Beyond gender differences, people’s attitudes also vary by age. Some 18% of partnered adults ages 18 to 49 say they are often bothered by the amount of time their partner spends on their phone, compared with 6% of those ages 50 and older. Younger adults in romantic relationships also are more likely than their older counterparts to say they are often bothered by the amount of time their partner spends on social media (11% vs. 4%) and playing video games (7% vs. 3%).

Roughly half of partnered people say their significant other is distracted by their phone at least sometimes when they try to talk to them

Chart shows about half of Americans in a relationship say their partner is distracted by their phone when they are trying to talk to them

When asked to reflect on their partner’s cellphone use, 51% of Americans in a romantic relationship say their partner is at least sometimes distracted by their cellphone when they are trying to have a conversation with them, including 16% who say their significant other is often distracted by their mobile device.

This pattern differs by age: Roughly six-in-ten partnered adults ages 30 to 49 say their significant other is at least sometimes distracted by their cellphone when they are trying to hold a conversation with them, compared with 52% of those ages 18 to 29 and even smaller shares for those ages 50 and older (41%). Among those in relationships, younger adults also are more likely than older adults to assert that their partner is often distracted by their phone when they are trying to have a discussion (20% vs. 10%).

Women who are in a relationship are more likely than men to say their partner is often distracted by their phone while they are trying to hold a conversation, but this gender difference is most pronounced among younger adults. Three-in-ten partnered women ages 18 to 29 say their significant other is often distracted by their phone while they are trying to hold a conversation, compared with 15% of men in this age group who say this.

About one-in-three partnered adults say they have looked through their current spouse or partner’s phone without their knowledge, but there’s strong public consensus this is unacceptable

Chart shows a majority of Americans think it is unacceptable for someone to look through their partner’s phone without their knowledge

Majorities across major demographic groups view these actions as unacceptable, but there are some Americans who are more accepting of this behavior than others.

Women are more likely than men to think it is at least sometimes acceptable for someone to look through their partner’s cellphone without their knowledge (35% vs. 24%). And about one-third of adults under the age of 65 (33%) view this as acceptable, compared with 16% of those 65 and older.

Americans’ views on the acceptability of looking through a partner’s phone varies by current relationship status. Americans who are married or cohabiting are more likely than those who are single or in a committed relationship to say that looking through a significant other’s phone without that person’s knowledge is sometimes or always acceptable.

Chart shows about one-in-three Americans who are in a romantic relationship say they’ve looked through their partner’s phone without that person’s knowledge

Among adults who are partnered, women are far more likely than men to report that they have looked through their current partner’s phone without that person’s knowledge (42% vs. 25%). And while 52% of partnered adults ages 18 to 29 say they have done this, those shares are 41% among those ages 30 to 49, 29% among those ages 50 to 64 and 13% among those 65 and older.

These actions also vary by the type of relationship. Roughly four-in-ten Americans (41%) who are living with a partner report that they have looked through their current partner’s phone without that person’s knowledge, compared with 27% of those who are in committed relationship and 34% of those who are married. However, this pattern is largely due age differences in relationship status, as twice as many adults under 50 live with a partner than do those 50 and older. While 48% cohabiters under 50 report having gone through their partner’s phone without that person’s knowledge, only 18% of cohabiters ages 50 and older say the same.

There also are some differences by race and ethnicity. About half of Hispanic adults who are in a relationship say they have looked through their partner’s phone, compared with a third among their black or white counterparts.

Those in partnered relationships also are more likely to look through their partner’s cellphone without that person’s knowledge if they think it is acceptable to do so (61% say they have done this). Smaller shares of partnered adults who deem this unacceptable say they have personally gone through their current partner’s phone – though still about one-in-five say they have done this.

It is fairly common for partners to share the password or passcode to their cellphone

Chart shows adults who are in a committed relationship – but who are not married or cohabiting – are less likely to share passwords with their partner

There also are some differences by age. Among partnered adults, those ages 18 to 49 are more likely than those ages 50 and older to say they have given their cellphone password to their spouse or partner (81% vs. 69%). On the other hand, older adults are more likely than younger adults to say they have shared their email password with their significant other (70% vs. 59%).

Most social media users see other people post about their relationship or dating life, but relatively few say these posts affect how they feel about their own relationship

Chart shows few social media users in relationships say that social media makes them feel differently about their own relationship

Overall, eight-in-ten social media users see others post about their relationship on social media often or sometimes. This differs by both age and gender. Women are slightly more likely than men to see these posts (84% vs. 77%). In addition, 90% of social media users ages 18 to 49 say they see these types of post at least sometimes, compared with 68% of those ages 50 and older.

A majority of social media users who are in a relationship (81%) say they see posts about other people’s relationships when using social media. Among these partnered social media users, 78% of those who are married say they at least sometimes see posts about other people’s relationships, compared with 89% of those who are living with partner and 86% of those in a committed relationship.

Overall, seeing these posts appears to have little effect on how people view their own romantic relationships. A large majority of partnered adults (81%) who at least sometimes see posts about other people’s relationships say that these posts have not made much of difference in how they feel about their own relationship. On the other hand, relatively few say these posts make them feel better (9%) or worse (9%) about their relationship.

Chart shows 33% of social media users who are single and looking say seeing relationship posts make them feel worse about their dating life

A third of the social media users who are single and looking and who say they see others’ posts about their love life say that seeing these posts makes them feel worse. This compares with 62% who report that such posts by others do not make much of a difference in how they feel about their own dating life. Just 4% say it makes them feel better.

These relationship-focused posts tend to have a bigger impact on women than men. Among social media users who are single and looking, women who see relationships posts at least sometimes are more likely to report that seeing these posts on social media makes them feel worse about their dating lives than are their male counterparts (40% vs. 28%).

About three-in-ten social media users say they have discussed their love life on social media

Chart shows about three-in-ten social media users say they post about their love life, but this varies by age, relationship status

About four-in-ten social media users who are either Hispanic or lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) say they have ever posted about their dating life or relationship on social media, while around one-quarter of white, black and straight social media users say the same.

Younger social media users also are more likely to have posted about their love lives on social media previously. While about half of social media users ages 18 to 29 have ever posted on social media about their dating life or relationship, a third of 30- to 49-year-olds say the same. By comparison, far fewer social media users ages 50 and older (11%) say they ever post about their relationship or dating life.

Roughly half of social media users have used these sites to check up on an ex-romantic partner

Chart shows 70% of younger social media users say they’ve checked up on their exes via these platforms

Social media users ages 18 to 49 are far more likely than those ages 50 and older to report using social media to check up on an ex-romantic partner. Seven-in-ten 18- to 29-year-olds report that they have used these platforms to check up on someone they used to date or be in a relationship with. That share is lower – though still a majority – among users ages 30 to 49 and falls sharply among those ages and 50 and older.

There also are some notable differences, depending on a person’s relationship status. About two-thirds each of social media users who are cohabiting or in a committed relationship say they have used social media to check up on someone they used to date. Meanwhile, 56% of single people, and even fewer married people (45%), say the same. In addition, social media users who have a high school degree or less education are less likely to report that they have used to social media to check up on an ex-romantic partner than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree or who have some college experience.

Younger Americans in relationships are especially likely to view social media as having an important role in connecting and keeping up with their partner

Chart shows younger adults are especially likely to see social media as an important way to show how much they care about their partner

There also are age differences when it comes to the importance social media users place on these platforms for keeping up with their significant other’s life. About four-in-ten partnered users ages 18 to 29 say social media is somewhat or very important when it comes to keeping up with what’s going on in their partner’s life, compared with 29% of those ages 30 to 49 and only 17% of those ages 50 and older.

Married social media users are more likely than those who are cohabiting or in a committed relationship to say they do not see social media as important for keeping up with what’s going on in their partner’s life or for showing how much they care about their partner.

The level of importance that partnered adults place on social media also varies by race and ethnicity as well as by sexual orientation. Nonwhite social media users are more likely than white users to say these platforms are a very or somewhat important for keeping up with their partner’s life and showing how much they care. 4 Among partnered social media users, LGB adults are more likely than those who are straight to say social media is at least somewhat important for keeping up with their partner’s life or showing how much they care.

Even when controlling for age, racial and ethnic differences persist when it comes to the likelihood of saying social media is a personally important way to keep up with one’s partner or show how much they care. Similarly, marital status and sexual orientation are significant predictors of how important it is for people to use social media to keep up with one’s partner, even after controlling for age differences.

Social media can be a source of jealousy and uncertainty in relationships – especially for younger adults

Chart shows about one-quarter of partnered Americans say their partner’s social media use has made them feel jealous, unsure about their relationship

Overall, 23% of partnered adults whose significant other uses social media say they have felt jealous or unsure about their relationship because of the way their current spouse or partner interacts with other people on social media. But this share is even higher among those in younger age groups.

Among partnered adults whose significant other uses social media, 34% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 26% of those ages 30 to 49 say they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media, compared with 19% of those ages 50 to 64 who say this and 4% of those ages 65 and up. Nearly four-in-ten unmarried adults with partners who are social media users (37%) say they have felt this way about their current partner, while only 17% of married people say the same.

Women also are more likely to express displeasure with how their significant other interacts with others on social media. Women who say their partner uses social media are more likely than men to say they have felt jealous or unsure of their relationships because of how their partner interacts with others on social media (29% vs. 17%).

Among those whose partner uses social media, about three-in-ten nonwhite adults who are in a relationship report having felt jealous or uncertain in their current relationship based on their partner’s social media interactions, compared with 19% of white adults who say the same. About one-third of LGB partnered adults whose significant other uses social media report that they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media, while 22% of straight people say this. College graduates are less likely to report having felt this way than those with some college experience or a high school degree or less.

  • These items were only asked among those whose partner uses these digital technologies, but are presented here among all partnered adults. This group does include portions of those who say their partner does not own a cellphone (4%), use social media (27%) or play videos games (47%). Please read the Methodology section for full details on how these questions were asked. ↩
  • Prior research from 2019 shows that the majority of both men (84%) and women (79%) in the U.S. report owning a smartphone . In addition, about three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are online almost constantly , and this does not differ by gender. Prior work in 2018 found that men under 50 are more likely than women under 50 to report playing video games at least sometimes. ↩
  • These items were only asked among those who use these digital technologies, but are presented here among all partnered adults. This group does include portions of those who say they do not use the internet or use social media. Please read the Methodology for full details on how these questions were asked. ↩
  • Nonwhite includes those who identify as black, Asian, Hispanic, some other race or multiple races; these groups could not be analyzed separately due to sample size limitations. ↩

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December 21, 2021 / Reading Time: ~ 12 minutes

Effects of Social Media on Interpersonal Relationships

Kyler Shakespear

Popularization of social media has been an ever-growing phenomenon since the rise of internet communication technology. With the college aged demographic at the forefront of this social frontier, they are the ones most heavily affected. This paper seeks to address the relationship between social media and connectivity and communication in relationships, both online and offline. The paper employs a mixed methods survey distributed to college-aged students that addresses aspects of social media and their impact on relationships. The results found that social media makes relationships online seem superficial, while offline relationships suffer as well because of a general trend of declining mental health and self esteem that seems to be a result of certain aspects of social media. This paper has implications for further research into the effects of social media on relationships and provides a discussion that addresses the need to understand how technology is changing social interactions. Mental health, as well as the impersonality and anonymity that come from communicating through online mediums seem to be some of the most prominent forces affecting relationships.

Introduction

Modern communication technology is a ubiquitous force that seems to be influencing all aspects of people’s lives around the world, receiving both much praise and criticism. These mixed feelings make it hard to tell if the course of technology is leading us down a path to a more developed society, or stalling growth and causing a social stagnation that makes us dependent on likes and followers. Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? Are the criticisms valid enough for us to consider fixing the apparent issue, or are they simply resulting from a fear of change? Apprehension towards new technologies has always been a hindering force in the acceptance of new things. After all, even Socrates had his reservations about the written word, citing that it “leads to forgetfulness, since it encourages one to rely on written characters instead of the memory” (Greene, 1951, p. 23). Perhaps the biggest way that modern media affects society today is through its impact on relationships. Arguably the strongest technological force impacting modern relationships is social media, permeating the lives of most everybody in the younger generations. Social media seems to diminish relationships by negatively impacting mental health and self esteem, and removing cues that are important in relational upkeep and maintaining the idea that the other communicant is a real person.

My main focus for the purposes of this paper is how the relationships of college-aged people are affected. I define this age range between eighteen and twenty-two, though the upper distinction may be blurred a little bit because, for example, graduate students or students who took a gap year before beginning secondary school will be a little older. Because of this, anyone in their early or mid twenties is still of interest. I chose this demographic for multiple reasons. Firstly, because the college demographic is one that is most engaged with social media use. A study from 2010 found that “72% of all college students have a social media profile with 45% of college students using a social media site at least once a day” (Sponcil & Gitimu, 2012, p. 2). This figure is slightly outdated, being eleven years old at the time of this writing, though given the further rise of social media prevalence even since then, it is safe to say that the number would be equal or higher now. One study shows that “social media usage has increased nationally by almost 1000 percent in eight years [as of 2015] for people between 18 and 29” (Griffin, 2015)

Figure 1. Social media usage among the 18-29 demographic. From Social Media Is Changing How College Students Deal With Mental Health, For Better Or Worse by R. Griffin, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/social-media-college-mental-health_n_55ae6649e4b08f57d5d28845  

Another reason that this demographic was chosen is because they are the first generation to grow up with social media being a relevant force since their early lives. Facebook began in 2004—an eighteen year old would have only been a year old at this time; certainly young enough to be impacted by it since before they could remember. (While Facebook may be neither the current biggest nor the first major social media, it is a relevant reference point due to its still quite large standing since very near the beginning of social medias) Even a thirty year old would have been thirteen at this time; old enough for it to become popular in their early adolescence, which is when most engagement with social media typically begins. Both Facebook and Instagram for example require that users be at least thirteen years old to create an account. For these reasons, I found the college-aged demographic most fitting.

To supplement this paper with my own research, I have employed a survey asking questions about various aspects of social media and how respondents felt they impacted their relationships. The survey consists of several ten point Likert-type scale questions as well as a few short answer questions. I reached out mostly to students at the University of Washington Tacoma campus and twenty-one respondents answered the survey. While I recognize the fairly small sample size that could have been prevented by posting my survey to social media, I avoided doing so to eliminate possible bias from asking people about social media on social media because people who don’t use it would be left out, and I believe that I have sufficient secondary research to supplement it. The majority of respondents fell between the ages of nineteen and twenty-four, with one thirty-six year-old and one twenty-nine year-old (one respondent did not answer the age question), therefore I contend that my survey results are relevant to the demographic of focus. 

Mental Health & Self Esteem

One of the most widely-heard criticisms of social media is its negative impact on mental health. Body image issues, low self esteem, anxiety, and addiction are but some of the most widely attributed faults. But what do these issues really prove about relationships? Well, research shows that mental health and self esteem can have quite an impact. According to Harris and Orth (2019), “the link between people’s social relationships and their level of self-esteem is truly reciprocal in all developmental stages across the life span, reflecting a positive feedback loop between the constructs” (p. 1). In other words, self esteem both determines the quality of connectivity in social relationships, and is determined by the quality and quantity of them. Low self esteem makes it much more difficult to connect with others. If one is unsure about oneself, then they are much less likely to be confident enough to open up and be able to connect on a deeper level. 

While it is important to know how mental factors dictate relationships, it is first necessary to understand how exactly social media affects mental health. With a survey of 627 participants, Christensen (2018) found that excessive social media use corresponded with a lower general sense of emotional well-being (p. 33). He mentions how people who show higher dependency on their phones also show higher levels of depression and decreased attention, both factors that can contribute to a decline in the quality of relationships (p. 33). One common effect of depression is a loss of interest in things that one would normally enjoy. In relationships, showing a lack of interest can have the effect of making the other person feel that they are not liked or are not interesting enough. This can be a blow to self esteem which, as spelled out earlier, can further harm relationships. Additionally, decreased attention can lead to distractibility and can again make the other person feel there is a lack of interest. In some ways therefore, social media can affect the emotional health of both parties, regardless of whether or not they are both heavy users. 

Christensen (2018) also mentions a study which found that “interaction with online peers contributed to compromising the function of offline relationships and increased the potential for Internet addictions” (p. 32). As I will explore more deeply later in this paper, interacting with people online that are not known offline reduces subtle cues that would make in-person communication much more difficult if not present. Getting used to communicating only through a limited-cues medium makes normal face-to-face communication harder and therefore increases the likelihood that online interactions are sought more and more until they displace in-person interactions. In my survey, only 50% of respondents answered that they use social media more to keep up with people they already know than to meet new people they don’t know in person. This means that a lot of the communication that happens in online relationships stays strictly online and is not supplemented with face-to-face communication.  Griffin (2015) quotes Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders director Dr. Anne Marie Albano, saying, “Social media and other technologies can give an individual a false sense of having true relationships, which can get in the way of developing peer support and mentor relationships. In actuality, they never cross over to make an engaging relationship with such people in the real world.” As a result of this, college students are less likely to have tangible relationships and are beginning college with less social experience as teenagers than was true of the past (Griffin, 2015). This all can make it harder to form new real world relationships. Meeting new people and making new connections isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when done online it is important not to replace in-person interactions to avoid running the risk of developing the addictive tendencies that social media seems to draw out of many. Watson (2016) claims that “social media is appealing to its users because it is easy to use, provides users with instant gratification and allows the user to be in total control.” These factors all make addictive personalities have even more trouble with putting their phones down.

Understanding how social media affects mental health is not just important for the sake of understanding relationships, but also for the sake of mental health itself. For many college students, this age is a time of heavy transition and sometimes uncertainty. This type of stress can make them much more susceptible to mental health problems. But additionally, understanding how this trend affects relationships is important because, as we saw earlier, successful relationships do play a role in mental health and self esteem. 

Reduction of Cues

Baym (2015) defines social cues as the nuances of communication that “provide further information regarding context, the meanings of messages, and the identities of the people interacting” (p. 9). As she explains, it is the missing cue of a shared location that makes texting the question “where are you?” much more common than asking it in face-to-face interactions. Cues are very important to social interaction. In romantic relationships, physical touch is a cue that is important to many couples. Even simpler than this, slightly changing one’s tone of voice can dramatically alter the meaning of a sentence. To demonstrate this, consider the sentence “I didn’t say he took the money.” Placing the emphasis on each word in the sentence completely changes its meaning. Online mediums have ways of mimicking in-person cues. Italicizing words can take the place of intonation (“I didn’t say he took the money” vs “I didn’t say he took the money”), or emojis to simulate facial expressions or reactions. Sometimes, online mediums can create their own cues in place of ones that are not present. 

Reducing cues in an interaction reduces the personality and expressiveness of each participant. When there aren’t enough cues, interaction can feel impersonal and anonymous. This is a problem that can really hinder the connectivity of communicants over an online medium. While the anonymity that many online platforms grant can help people to feel more comfortable opening up honestly and sharing valuable information, the other side of the coin is that many people do not feel that their actions online have any real-world consequences. This can lead them to be ruder, more disrespectful, and less tolerant of others’ views. Even if people don’t act like blatant jerks when they feel they are anonymous, the reduction of cues can make the quality of the relationship feel like it is not as real. A general trend I found from my survey is that the more friends or followers a person has, the smaller percentage of them they perceive to be ‘real’ friends. This is because interacting with such a mass of followers reduces the cues available to be sent to and from each one. Another question asked of the participants was how close they feel in their online relationships compared to offline. They were asked to rate their degree of connectivity on a scale from one to ten, one being that they feel no connection, five being the same as in-person, and ten being significantly more connected. Not surprisingly, the numbers were not very high. The average response was a 3.71, with nobody rating higher than a seven. This confirms that a reduction of cues results in a feeling of lower connectivity. 

Figure 2. Connectivity in online relationships

Reduced connectivity is not the only negative side effect of limited social cues in social media however. Another result is the disconnect between communication and the idea that the other communicant is a real person. Without sufficient cues, it is hard to see how somebody else is reacting to one’s messages, and that can lead many people to ignore or forget about others’ emotions. It makes communication feel much more impersonal and inconsequential. One phenomenon that can be attributed to this is ghosting. Ghosting is a phenomenon most present in romantic relationships where one party decides to cut all ties with the other and does not respond to any attempts at contact. Ghosting is so common in fact that the term applied to it is easily recognisable to mostly anyone on the internet. Isaf (2020) mentions a survey which found that only 36% of men and 23% of women had never experienced ghosting before (p. 62). She goes on to explain that “a Huffington Post article attributed the motivation for ghosting to a desire to avoid confrontation, difficult conversations, and hurting someone’s feelings. However, relationship research has shown that in the long run, ghosting often leads to worse confrontations than would have otherwise occurred with an alternative breakup strategy” (Isaf, 2020, p. 61). Many people who turn to ghosting feel that since they are not saying anything to hurt the other person’s feelings, they are mitigating the emotional harm. After all, by blocking them, they do not receive any cues from the other end, so there’s no way to see what harm they have done. In fact, all this does is make the other person feel that they aren’t worth the confrontation. This ends up harming the person on the receiving end all the more while the ghoster escapes unscathed. This is one of the many reasons why trust is very sceptically placed in online situations, especially on dating apps, where romantic relationships are supposed to involve honest communication and trust. When asked how trustworthy online dating profiles are, survey respondents again, not surprisingly, did not tend to rate very high. The average rating for this question was 3.78. Obviously, problems of impersonality severely limit trust in online relationships.

Figure 3. Trust in online dating profiles

Lack of trust is a big issue that can stunt and altogether stop the growth of a relationship. Reduction of social cues in online mediums like social media and dating apps lead to a feeling that either there is no reason to care about the person on the other end, there is no reason for the person on the other end to care, or both. Due to the ever-expanding presence of social media in modern life, it is important to know how to deal with online communication, and that starts with understanding its strengths and its limitations.

From the evidence gathered, it seems that social media is a socially poisonous force. In reality however, it isn’t all negative. While not ideal communication, it presents the opportunity to still be able to connect with people who might otherwise not be seen. After all, being able to talk to family members who live in another country, or a friend from high school who now lives in another state is better than no communication at all. The important point is that it is necessary to understand the limits and drawbacks of the forces that are so ever-present in our lives. Understanding the lack of cues will help to recognize and avoid tendencies that hurt trust and impersonality. Knowing how social media impacts mental health can help make it easier to mitigate harm by taking a different approach, like for example restricting people you follow to only those whom you deem close enough friends or people you would actually like to keep in touch with. When left unchecked, social media can result in some truly ugly effects for mental health, trust, and communication. It is still a very recent development in the course of human history and thus is still being perfected. While at the moment it is far from perfect, tailoring social media platforms to fit specific, healthy communication purposes can drastically increase the quality of connectivity in relationships. Instead of centering apps around how many followers and likes one can get, it might be more beneficial for everybody to focus it around forming deeper connections rather than more numerous shallow ones. Filling one’s world with empty communication and shallow relationships can make it feel both overwhelmingly crowded and desperately lonely at the same time. This may be at least in part the reason why mental health and anxiety are such common problems now. “In the last year, anxiety has superseded depression as the most prevalent mental health disorder across college campuses, according to a study by the American College Health Association” (Griffin, 2015). College students are currently the most affected demographic, and thus it is extremely important to address such an issue. 

Perhaps the next step is a study focused around how to turn social media into a positive force, employing a psychological approach to address the issues of mental health and addiction as well as a communications-oriented approach aiming to add cues necessary to making interactions online more genuine. Fixing these issues with social media and in turn helping improve the quality of relationships produced can be a great benefit that is worth striving for.

Baym, N. K. (2015). Personal Connections in the Digital Age (Digital Media and Society) (2nd ed.). Polity.

Christensen, S. P. (2018). Social Media Use and Its Impact on Relationships and Emotions. All Theses and Dissertations, 6927. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/etd/6927

Greene, W. C. (1951). The Spoken and the Written Word. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 60 , 23–59. https://doi.org/10.2307/310884

Griffin, R. (2015, July 22). Social Media Is Changing How College Students Deal With Mental Health, For Better Or Worse . HuffPost. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/social-media-college-mental-health_n_5 5ae6649e4b08f57d5d28845

Harris, M. A., & Orth, U. (2020). The link between self-esteem and social relationships: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 119 (6), 1459–1477. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000265

Isaf, M. (2020). The Role of Social Media in Dating Trends Among Gen Z College Students. Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 11 (2), 59–68. https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/communications/journal/wp-content/u ploads/sites/153/2020/12/06-Isaf_EJfinal.pdf

Sponcil, M., & Gitimu, P. (2012). Use of social media by college students: Relationship to communication and self-concept. Journal of Technology Research . Published. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266344276_Use_of_social_media_by_college_students_Relationship_to_communication_and_self-concept

Watson, K. (2016, November 28). How Social Media Addictions Strain Relationships with College Students . Progressions. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://progressions.prsa.org/index.php/2016/11/28/how-social-media-addictions-strain-relationships-with-college-students/

And So It Was Written

essay on how social media affects relationships

Author: Kyler Shakespear

Published: December 21, 2021

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A research-based approach to relationships

The Impact of Social Media on Relationships

Genesis Games, LMHC

Is social media a threat to your relationship wellness?

Blog_Social Media and Dating Relationships

In 2019, the average person spent 144 minutes per day on social media (Clement, 2020). According to Media Dependency Theory, the higher dependence a person has on media the stronger the influence of media on the individual’s perceptions and behaviors (Joo & Teng, 2017, p. 36). A study conducted in 2018 by Brigham Young University found that extensive social media usage is linked with decreased emotional wellness and lower satisfaction in interpersonal relationships (Christensen, 2018). In other words, if you think your relationship is being negatively impacted by social media, you are not being “dramatic,” it actually is (you can read more here ) . 

It’s important not to downplay or dismiss the role social media plays in relationships. Acknowledging and talking about it can actually help strengthen your bond.

Benefits of Social Media

Let’s highlight the positives first. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 55% of Gen Z feel supported through social media. Social media allows people to connect to family and friends who might be on the other side of the world. You can connect with people who have similar interests who you might never meet otherwise. In romantic relationships, where couples are long-distance or have to travel often for work, it can help them feel like they are part of each other’s day-to-day life, even when apart. Social media has also become a hub for mental health professionals and relationship experts like myself —making support and education that can motivate individuals and couples to seek help.

Is Social Media a Threat to your Relationship?

Social Media can become a threat to your romantic relationship when meaning and boundaries are not clearly defined and agreed upon. As well as, when couples fall into a comparison trap.

Life is full of symbols that hold different meanings depending on lived experiences, family of origin, and culture. It’s important that you discuss with your partner what social media symbolizes and what meaning it holds for the two of you. Understanding what social media represents for each of you, might help you understand how your partner chooses to engage online.

Boundaries 

Boundaries get a bad reputation. For many, it feels like a “bad word.” The truth is that boundaries allow you to love the other person in a way they can feel.  Digital boundaries come up in my work with couples all the time because we all live in a world that is more interconnected than ever. 

Talk about expectations about the role social media will play in your relationship. Thinking that social media and real-life are two different parallel spaces will only lead you to feel frustrated and disappointed. 

Digital boundaries need to be discussed from the start of the relationship. Consider the following:

  • Do you update your relationship status?
  • How much do you share about your relationship on social media?
  • Who do you follow?
  • What pictures do you like or leave comments on?
  • How do you navigate direct messages?
  • Do you share your login information with your partner?
  • How much time is spent on social media?

This one might be the most challenging one, even for the couples who are self-aware and communicate clearly about their engagement on social media. People can go above and beyond to curate a perfect feed with the enhanced highlights of their relationship. The beautiful bouquet of lush flowers, the five-star weekly dinner dates, the romantic beachfront getaways they go on every other weekend, the vintage custom-made ring, and the heartfelt poems they write to each other just because. This is all you see. You don’t see the criticism or the defensiveness. You don’t see them crying. You don’t see the hard conversations and the vulnerability that accompanies those. You don’t see the behind-the-scenes. Yet, you compare your good enough and imperfect relationship to a perfectly curated “Instagramable” relationship. 

This is the recipe for perpetual disappointment because your reality will never measure up to the highlights of someone else’s relationship. Oftentimes, when you fall into the comparison trap, your insecurities bubble up to the surface. Maybe you feel insecure about your partner’s commitment and this is triggered when you see couples getting engaged, moving in together, or buying their first home. Maybe you feel insecure because you crave more quality time and this is triggered when you see other couples going on regular date nights and couples-only vacations. Regardless of your insecurities, don’t allow social media to fuel arguments between you and your partner. Your relationship is not less real because it’s not up to par with the social media standards of the perfect relationship.

How to Navigate Social Media as a Couple

  • Prioritize quality time without social media
  • Check-in with your partner before you post about them or your relationship
  • Don’t snoop through your partner’s social media
  • If you wouldn’t do it in- person, then don’t do it online
  • Tone and intent are harder to gauge online, so give your partner the benefit of doubt
  • Have ongoing conversations about social media and your relationship

Final Thought

Despite how digitized life is, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable talking about the impact social media has on relationships. Social media seems too trivial to argue about. Yet, it brings up real feelings, and those matter. 

Addressing social media boundaries doesn’t have to be a colossal challenge. Be willing to have open and ongoing honest conversations with your partner with the goal of better understanding each other. Also, work together to establish boundaries that lead to emotional and commitment safety within the relationship. 

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Genesis Games is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and the owner of a virtual practice located in Sunny South Florida. She is a Level 3 Gottman Method trained couples therapist. She works with individuals and couples navigating a variety of relationship issues and life adjustments. Genesis is passionate about making relationship wellness and mental health information readily accessible and easy to digest. She has created a complementary and interactive online course on healthy relationships. Visit her website for more information on her work.  Follow her on Twitter and Instagram .

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Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review

Fazida karim.

1 Psychology, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology, Fairfield, USA

2 Business & Management, University Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu, MYS

Azeezat A Oyewande

3 Family Medicine, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology, Fairfield, USA

4 Family Medicine, Lagos State Health Service Commission/Alimosho General Hospital, Lagos, NGA

Lamis F Abdalla

5 Internal Medicine, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology, Fairfield, USA

Reem Chaudhry Ehsanullah

Safeera khan.

Social media are responsible for aggravating mental health problems. This systematic study summarizes the effects of social network usage on mental health. Fifty papers were shortlisted from google scholar databases, and after the application of various inclusion and exclusion criteria, 16 papers were chosen and all papers were evaluated for quality. Eight papers were cross-sectional studies, three were longitudinal studies, two were qualitative studies, and others were systematic reviews. Findings were classified into two outcomes of mental health: anxiety and depression. Social media activity such as time spent to have a positive effect on the mental health domain. However, due to the cross-sectional design and methodological limitations of sampling, there are considerable differences. The structure of social media influences on mental health needs to be further analyzed through qualitative research and vertical cohort studies.

Introduction and background

Human beings are social creatures that require the companionship of others to make progress in life. Thus, being socially connected with other people can relieve stress, anxiety, and sadness, but lack of social connection can pose serious risks to mental health [ 1 ].

Social media

Social media has recently become part of people's daily activities; many of them spend hours each day on Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, and other popular social media. Thus, many researchers and scholars study the impact of social media and applications on various aspects of people’s lives [ 2 ]. Moreover, the number of social media users worldwide in 2019 is 3.484 billion, up 9% year-on-year [ 3 - 5 ]. A statistic in Figure  1  shows the gender distribution of social media audiences worldwide as of January 2020, sorted by platform. It was found that only 38% of Twitter users were male but 61% were using Snapchat. In contrast, females were more likely to use LinkedIn and Facebook. There is no denying that social media has now become an important part of many people's lives. Social media has many positive and enjoyable benefits, but it can also lead to mental health problems. Previous research found that age did not have an effect but gender did; females were much more likely to experience mental health than males [ 6 , 7 ].

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Impact on mental health

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which people understand their abilities, solve everyday life problems, work well, and make a significant contribution to the lives of their communities [ 8 ]. There is debated presently going on regarding the benefits and negative impacts of social media on mental health [ 9 , 10 ]. Social networking is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. Both the quantity and quality of social relationships affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk [ 9 ]. The Displaced Behavior Theory may help explain why social media shows a connection with mental health. According to the theory, people who spend more time in sedentary behaviors such as social media use have less time for face-to-face social interaction, both of which have been proven to be protective against mental disorders [ 11 , 12 ]. On the other hand, social theories found how social media use affects mental health by influencing how people view, maintain, and interact with their social network [ 13 ]. A number of studies have been conducted on the impacts of social media, and it has been indicated that the prolonged use of social media platforms such as Facebook may be related to negative signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress [ 10 - 15 ]. Furthermore, social media can create a lot of pressure to create the stereotype that others want to see and also being as popular as others.

The need for a systematic review

Systematic studies can quantitatively and qualitatively identify, aggregate, and evaluate all accessible data to generate a warm and accurate response to the research questions involved [ 4 ]. In addition, many existing systematic studies related to mental health studies have been conducted worldwide. However, only a limited number of studies are integrated with social media and conducted in the context of social science because the available literature heavily focused on medical science [ 6 ]. Because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, the potential links between their use and mental health have not been widely investigated.

This paper attempt to systematically review all the relevant literature with the aim of filling the gap by examining social media impact on mental health, which is sedentary behavior, which, if in excess, raises the risk of health problems [ 7 , 9 , 12 ]. This study is important because it provides information on the extent of the focus of peer review literature, which can assist the researchers in delivering a prospect with the aim of understanding the future attention related to climate change strategies that require scholarly attention. This study is very useful because it provides information on the extent to which peer review literature can assist researchers in presenting prospects with a view to understanding future concerns related to mental health strategies that require scientific attention. The development of the current systematic review is based on the main research question: how does social media affect mental health?

Research strategy

The research was conducted to identify studies analyzing the role of social media on mental health. Google Scholar was used as our main database to find the relevant articles. Keywords that were used for the search were: (1) “social media”, (2) “mental health”, (3) “social media” AND “mental health”, (4) “social networking” AND “mental health”, and (5) “social networking” OR “social media” AND “mental health” (Table  1 ).

Out of the results in Table  1 , a total of 50 articles relevant to the research question were selected. After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, duplicate papers were removed, and, finally, a total of 28 articles were selected for review (Figure  2 ).

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PRISMA, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Peer-reviewed, full-text research papers from the past five years were included in the review. All selected articles were in English language and any non-peer-reviewed and duplicate papers were excluded from finally selected articles.

Of the 16 selected research papers, there were a research focus on adults, gender, and preadolescents [ 10 - 19 ]. In the design, there were qualitative and quantitative studies [ 15 , 16 ]. There were three systematic reviews and one thematic analysis that explored the better or worse of using social media among adolescents [ 20 - 23 ]. In addition, eight were cross-sectional studies and only three were longitudinal studies [ 24 - 29 ].The meta-analyses included studies published beyond the last five years in this population. Table  2  presents a selection of studies from the review.

IGU, internet gaming disorder; PSMU, problematic social media use

This study has attempted to systematically analyze the existing literature on the effect of social media use on mental health. Although the results of the study were not completely consistent, this review found a general association between social media use and mental health issues. Although there is positive evidence for a link between social media and mental health, the opposite has been reported.

For example, a previous study found no relationship between the amount of time spent on social media and depression or between social media-related activities, such as the number of online friends and the number of “selfies”, and depression [ 29 ]. Similarly, Neira and Barber found that while higher investment in social media (e.g. active social media use) predicted adolescents’ depressive symptoms, no relationship was found between the frequency of social media use and depressed mood [ 28 ].

In the 16 studies, anxiety and depression were the most commonly measured outcome. The prominent risk factors for anxiety and depression emerging from this study comprised time spent, activity, and addiction to social media. In today's world, anxiety is one of the basic mental health problems. People liked and commented on their uploaded photos and videos. In today's age, everyone is immune to the social media context. Some teens experience anxiety from social media related to fear of loss, which causes teens to try to respond and check all their friends' messages and messages on a regular basis.

On the contrary, depression is one of the unintended significances of unnecessary use of social media. In detail, depression is limited not only to Facebooks but also to other social networking sites, which causes psychological problems. A new study found that individuals who are involved in social media, games, texts, mobile phones, etc. are more likely to experience depression.

The previous study found a 70% increase in self-reported depressive symptoms among the group using social media. The other social media influence that causes depression is sexual fun [ 12 ]. The intimacy fun happens when social media promotes putting on a facade that highlights the fun and excitement but does not tell us much about where we are struggling in our daily lives at a deeper level [ 28 ]. Another study revealed that depression and time spent on Facebook by adolescents are positively correlated [ 22 ]. More importantly, symptoms of major depression have been found among the individuals who spent most of their time in online activities and performing image management on social networking sites [ 14 ].

Another study assessed gender differences in associations between social media use and mental health. Females were found to be more addicted to social media as compared with males [ 26 ]. Passive activity in social media use such as reading posts is more strongly associated with depression than doing active use like making posts [ 23 ]. Other important findings of this review suggest that other factors such as interpersonal trust and family functioning may have a greater influence on the symptoms of depression than the frequency of social media use [ 28 , 29 ].

Limitation and suggestion

The limitations and suggestions were identified by the evidence involved in the study and review process. Previously, 7 of the 16 studies were cross-sectional and slightly failed to determine the causal relationship between the variables of interest. Given the evidence from cross-sectional studies, it is not possible to conclude that the use of social networks causes mental health problems. Only three longitudinal studies examined the causal relationship between social media and mental health, which is hard to examine if the mental health problem appeared more pronounced in those who use social media more compared with those who use it less or do not use at all [ 19 , 20 , 24 ]. Next, despite the fact that the proposed relationship between social media and mental health is complex, a few studies investigated mediating factors that may contribute or exacerbate this relationship. Further investigations are required to clarify the underlying factors that help examine why social media has a negative impact on some peoples’ mental health, whereas it has no or positive effect on others’ mental health.

Conclusions

Social media is a new study that is rapidly growing and gaining popularity. Thus, there are many unexplored and unexpected constructive answers associated with it. Lately, studies have found that using social media platforms can have a detrimental effect on the psychological health of its users. However, the extent to which the use of social media impacts the public is yet to be determined. This systematic review has found that social media envy can affect the level of anxiety and depression in individuals. In addition, other potential causes of anxiety and depression have been identified, which require further exploration.

The importance of such findings is to facilitate further research on social media and mental health. In addition, the information obtained from this study can be helpful not only to medical professionals but also to social science research. The findings of this study suggest that potential causal factors from social media can be considered when cooperating with patients who have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Also, if the results from this study were used to explore more relationships with another construct, this could potentially enhance the findings to reduce anxiety and depression rates and prevent suicide rates from occurring.

The content published in Cureus is the result of clinical experience and/or research by independent individuals or organizations. Cureus is not responsible for the scientific accuracy or reliability of data or conclusions published herein. All content published within Cureus is intended only for educational, research and reference purposes. Additionally, articles published within Cureus should not be deemed a suitable substitute for the advice of a qualified health care professional. Do not disregard or avoid professional medical advice due to content published within Cureus.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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Science News

Social media harms teens’ mental health, mounting evidence shows. what now.

Understanding what is going on in teens’ minds is necessary for targeted policy suggestions

A teen scrolls through social media alone on her phone.

Most teens use social media, often for hours on end. Some social scientists are confident that such use is harming their mental health. Now they want to pinpoint what explains the link.

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By Sujata Gupta

February 20, 2024 at 7:30 am

In January, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook’s parent company Meta, appeared at a congressional hearing to answer questions about how social media potentially harms children. Zuckerberg opened by saying: “The existing body of scientific work has not shown a causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health.”

But many social scientists would disagree with that statement. In recent years, studies have started to show a causal link between teen social media use and reduced well-being or mood disorders, chiefly depression and anxiety.

Ironically, one of the most cited studies into this link focused on Facebook.

Researchers delved into whether the platform’s introduction across college campuses in the mid 2000s increased symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. The answer was a clear yes , says MIT economist Alexey Makarin, a coauthor of the study, which appeared in the November 2022 American Economic Review . “There is still a lot to be explored,” Makarin says, but “[to say] there is no causal evidence that social media causes mental health issues, to that I definitely object.”

The concern, and the studies, come from statistics showing that social media use in teens ages 13 to 17 is now almost ubiquitous. Two-thirds of teens report using TikTok, and some 60 percent of teens report using Instagram or Snapchat, a 2022 survey found. (Only 30 percent said they used Facebook.) Another survey showed that girls, on average, allot roughly 3.4 hours per day to TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, compared with roughly 2.1 hours among boys. At the same time, more teens are showing signs of depression than ever, especially girls ( SN: 6/30/23 ).

As more studies show a strong link between these phenomena, some researchers are starting to shift their attention to possible mechanisms. Why does social media use seem to trigger mental health problems? Why are those effects unevenly distributed among different groups, such as girls or young adults? And can the positives of social media be teased out from the negatives to provide more targeted guidance to teens, their caregivers and policymakers?

“You can’t design good public policy if you don’t know why things are happening,” says Scott Cunningham, an economist at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Increasing rigor

Concerns over the effects of social media use in children have been circulating for years, resulting in a massive body of scientific literature. But those mostly correlational studies could not show if teen social media use was harming mental health or if teens with mental health problems were using more social media.

Moreover, the findings from such studies were often inconclusive, or the effects on mental health so small as to be inconsequential. In one study that received considerable media attention, psychologists Amy Orben and Andrew Przybylski combined data from three surveys to see if they could find a link between technology use, including social media, and reduced well-being. The duo gauged the well-being of over 355,000 teenagers by focusing on questions around depression, suicidal thinking and self-esteem.

Digital technology use was associated with a slight decrease in adolescent well-being , Orben, now of the University of Cambridge, and Przybylski, of the University of Oxford, reported in 2019 in Nature Human Behaviour . But the duo downplayed that finding, noting that researchers have observed similar drops in adolescent well-being associated with drinking milk, going to the movies or eating potatoes.

Holes have begun to appear in that narrative thanks to newer, more rigorous studies.

In one longitudinal study, researchers — including Orben and Przybylski — used survey data on social media use and well-being from over 17,400 teens and young adults to look at how individuals’ responses to a question gauging life satisfaction changed between 2011 and 2018. And they dug into how the responses varied by gender, age and time spent on social media.

Social media use was associated with a drop in well-being among teens during certain developmental periods, chiefly puberty and young adulthood, the team reported in 2022 in Nature Communications . That translated to lower well-being scores around ages 11 to 13 for girls and ages 14 to 15 for boys. Both groups also reported a drop in well-being around age 19. Moreover, among the older teens, the team found evidence for the Goldilocks Hypothesis: the idea that both too much and too little time spent on social media can harm mental health.

“There’s hardly any effect if you look over everybody. But if you look at specific age groups, at particularly what [Orben] calls ‘windows of sensitivity’ … you see these clear effects,” says L.J. Shrum, a consumer psychologist at HEC Paris who was not involved with this research. His review of studies related to teen social media use and mental health is forthcoming in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

Cause and effect

That longitudinal study hints at causation, researchers say. But one of the clearest ways to pin down cause and effect is through natural or quasi-experiments. For these in-the-wild experiments, researchers must identify situations where the rollout of a societal “treatment” is staggered across space and time. They can then compare outcomes among members of the group who received the treatment to those still in the queue — the control group.

That was the approach Makarin and his team used in their study of Facebook. The researchers homed in on the staggered rollout of Facebook across 775 college campuses from 2004 to 2006. They combined that rollout data with student responses to the National College Health Assessment, a widely used survey of college students’ mental and physical health.

The team then sought to understand if those survey questions captured diagnosable mental health problems. Specifically, they had roughly 500 undergraduate students respond to questions both in the National College Health Assessment and in validated screening tools for depression and anxiety. They found that mental health scores on the assessment predicted scores on the screenings. That suggested that a drop in well-being on the college survey was a good proxy for a corresponding increase in diagnosable mental health disorders. 

Compared with campuses that had not yet gained access to Facebook, college campuses with Facebook experienced a 2 percentage point increase in the number of students who met the diagnostic criteria for anxiety or depression, the team found.

When it comes to showing a causal link between social media use in teens and worse mental health, “that study really is the crown jewel right now,” says Cunningham, who was not involved in that research.

A need for nuance

The social media landscape today is vastly different than the landscape of 20 years ago. Facebook is now optimized for maximum addiction, Shrum says, and other newer platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, have since copied and built on those features. Paired with the ubiquity of social media in general, the negative effects on mental health may well be larger now.

Moreover, social media research tends to focus on young adults — an easier cohort to study than minors. That needs to change, Cunningham says. “Most of us are worried about our high school kids and younger.” 

And so, researchers must pivot accordingly. Crucially, simple comparisons of social media users and nonusers no longer make sense. As Orben and Przybylski’s 2022 work suggested, a teen not on social media might well feel worse than one who briefly logs on. 

Researchers must also dig into why, and under what circumstances, social media use can harm mental health, Cunningham says. Explanations for this link abound. For instance, social media is thought to crowd out other activities or increase people’s likelihood of comparing themselves unfavorably with others. But big data studies, with their reliance on existing surveys and statistical analyses, cannot address those deeper questions. “These kinds of papers, there’s nothing you can really ask … to find these plausible mechanisms,” Cunningham says.

One ongoing effort to understand social media use from this more nuanced vantage point is the SMART Schools project out of the University of Birmingham in England. Pedagogical expert Victoria Goodyear and her team are comparing mental and physical health outcomes among children who attend schools that have restricted cell phone use to those attending schools without such a policy. The researchers described the protocol of that study of 30 schools and over 1,000 students in the July BMJ Open.

Goodyear and colleagues are also combining that natural experiment with qualitative research. They met with 36 five-person focus groups each consisting of all students, all parents or all educators at six of those schools. The team hopes to learn how students use their phones during the day, how usage practices make students feel, and what the various parties think of restrictions on cell phone use during the school day.

Talking to teens and those in their orbit is the best way to get at the mechanisms by which social media influences well-being — for better or worse, Goodyear says. Moving beyond big data to this more personal approach, however, takes considerable time and effort. “Social media has increased in pace and momentum very, very quickly,” she says. “And research takes a long time to catch up with that process.”

Until that catch-up occurs, though, researchers cannot dole out much advice. “What guidance could we provide to young people, parents and schools to help maintain the positives of social media use?” Goodyear asks. “There’s not concrete evidence yet.”

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Home — Essay Samples — Sociology — Sociology of Media and Communication — Social Media

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Argumentative Essays About Social Media

This is a comprehensive resource to help you find the perfect social media essay topic. Whether you're navigating the complexities of digital communication, exploring the impact of social media on society, or examining its effects on personal identity, the right topic can transform your essay into a captivating and insightful exploration. Remember, selecting a topic that resonates with your personal interests and academic goals not only makes the writing process more enjoyable but also enriches your learning experience. Let's dive into a world of creativity and critical thinking!

Essay Types and Topics

Below, you'll find a curated list of essay topics organized by type. Each section includes diverse topics that touch on technology, society, personal growth, and academic interests, along with introduction and conclusion paragraph examples to get you started.

Argumentative Essays

Introduction Example: "In the digital age, social media platforms have become central to our daily interactions and self-perception, particularly among teenagers. This essay explores the impact of social media on teen self-esteem, arguing that while it offers a space for expression and connection, it also presents significant challenges to self-image. "

Conclusion Example: "Having delved into the complex relationship between social media and teen self-esteem, it is clear that the digital landscape holds profound effects on individual self-perception. This essay reaffirms the thesis that social media can both uplift and undermine teen self-esteem, calling for a balanced approach to digital engagement."

Introduction Example: "As political landscapes evolve, social media has emerged as a powerful tool for political mobilization and engagement. This essay investigates the role of social media in shaping political movements, positing that it significantly enhances communication and organizational capabilities, yet raises questions about information authenticity. "

Conclusion Example: "Through examining the dual facets of social media in political mobilization, the essay concludes that while social media is a pivotal tool for engagement, it necessitates critical scrutiny of information to ensure a well-informed public discourse."

Compare and Contrast Essays

Introduction Example: "In the competitive realm of digital marketing, Instagram and Twitter stand out as leading platforms for brand promotion. This essay compares and contrasts their effectiveness, revealing that each platform caters to unique marketing strengths due to its specific user engagement and content dissemination strategies. "

Conclusion Example: "The comparative analysis of Instagram and Twitter highlights distinct advantages for brands, with Instagram excelling in visual storytelling and Twitter in real-time engagement, underscoring the importance of strategic platform selection in digital marketing."

Descriptive Essays

Introduction Example: "Today's social media landscape is a vibrant tapestry of platforms, each contributing to the digital era's social fabric. This essay describes the characteristics and cultural significance of current social media trends, illustrating that they reflect and shape our societal values and interactions. "

Conclusion Example: "In portraying the dynamic and diverse nature of today's social media landscape, this essay underscores its role in molding contemporary cultural and social paradigms, inviting readers to reflect on their digital footprints."

Persuasive Essays

Introduction Example: "In an era where digital presence is ubiquitous, fostering positive social media habits is essential for mental and emotional well-being. This essay advocates for mindful social media use, arguing that intentional engagement can enhance our life experiences rather than detract from them. "

Conclusion Example: "This essay has championed the cause for positive social media habits, reinforcing the thesis that through mindful engagement, individuals can navigate the digital world in a way that promotes personal growth and well-being."

Narrative Essays

Introduction Example: "Embarking on a personal journey with social media has been both enlightening and challenging. This narrative essay delves into my experiences, highlighting how social media has influenced my perception of self and community. "

Conclusion Example: "Reflecting on my social media journey, this essay concludes that while it has significantly shaped my interactions and self-view, it has also offered invaluable lessons on connectivity and self-awareness, affirming the nuanced role of digital platforms in our lives."

Engagement and Creativity

As you explore these topics, remember to approach your essay with an open mind and creative spirit. The purpose of academic writing is not just to inform but to engage and provoke thought. Use this opportunity to delve deep into your topic, analyze different perspectives, and articulate your own insights.

Educational Value

Each essay type offers unique learning outcomes. Argumentative essays enhance your analytical thinking and ability to construct well-founded arguments. Compare and contrast essays develop your skills in identifying similarities and differences. Descriptive essays improve your ability to paint vivid pictures through words, while persuasive essays refine your ability to influence and convince. Finally, narrative essays offer a platform for personal expression and storytelling. Embrace these opportunities to grow academically and personally.

Some Easy Argumentative Essay Topics on Social Media

  • The Impact of Social Media: Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Is Social Media Enhancing or Eroding Our Real-Life Social Skills?
  • Should There Be Stricter Regulations on Social Media Content to Protect Youth?
  • Social Media's Role in Relationships: Communication Enhancer or Barrier
  • Does Social Media Contribute to Political Polarization?
  • The Role of Social Media in Shaping Perceptions of Divorce
  • The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health: Benefit or Harm?
  • Can Social Media Be Considered a Reliable Source of News and Information?
  • Is Social Media Responsible for the Rise in Cyberbullying?
  • Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
  • Does Social Media Promote Narcissism and Self-Centered Behaviors?
  • The Role of Social Media in Business Marketing: Is It Indispensable?

Impacts of Social Media on Human Relationships

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Pros and Cons of Social Media: Social Networking

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Social Media Cons and Prons: Evaluating Its Advantages and Disadvantage

The importance of staying safe on social media, impact of social media on our lives, social media: negative effects and addiction, discussion on whether is social media beneficial or harmful for society, negative effects of social media: relationships and communication, social media pros and cons, social media - good and bad sides, a study of the role of social media concerning confidentiality of personal data, how social media causes stereotyping, social media addiction: consequences and strategies for recovery, the role of social media in making us more narcissistic, the effect social media is having on today's society and political atmosphere, digital/social media, censorship in social media, why teenagers are addicted to social media and how it affects them, advantages and disadvantages of social media for society, enormous impact of mass media on children, the role of social media in the current business world, social media is the reason for many of the world’s problems and solutions.

Social media refers to dynamic online platforms that enable individuals to actively engage in the generation and dissemination of various forms of content, including information, ideas, and personal interests. These interactive digital channels foster virtual communities and networks, allowing users to connect, communicate, and express themselves. By harnessing the power of technology, social media platforms provide a space for individuals to share and exchange content, fostering connections and facilitating the flow of information in an increasingly digital world.

In a peculiar manner, the inception of social media can be traced back to May 24, 1844, when a sequence of electronic dots and dashes was manually tapped on a telegraph machine. Although the origins of digital communication have deep historical roots, most contemporary narratives regarding the modern beginnings of the internet and social media often point to the emergence of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) in 1969. The year 1987 witnessed the establishment of the direct precursor to today's internet, as the National Science Foundation introduced the more robust and expansive NSFNET, a nationwide digital network. A significant milestone occurred in 1997 when Six Degrees, the first genuine social media platform, was launched.

Mark Zuckerberg is a notable figure in the realm of social media as the co-founder and CEO of Facebook. Zuckerberg played a pivotal role in transforming Facebook from a small networking platform for college students into a global social media giant with billions of users. His innovative ideas and strategic decisions have reshaped the way people connect and share information online, making him one of the most influential individuals in the digital age. Jack Dorsey is recognized as one of the key pioneers of social media, notably for co-founding Twitter. Dorsey's creation revolutionized online communication by introducing the concept of microblogging, allowing users to share short messages in real-time. Twitter quickly gained popularity, becoming a powerful platform for news dissemination, public conversations, and social movements. Dorsey's entrepreneurial spirit and vision have contributed significantly to the evolution of social media and its impact on society. Sheryl Sandberg is a prominent figure in the social media landscape, known for her influential role as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook.Sandberg played a crucial part in scaling and monetizing Facebook's operations, transforming it into a global advertising powerhouse. She is also recognized for her advocacy of women's empowerment and leadership in the tech industry, inspiring countless individuals and promoting diversity and inclusion within the social media sphere. Sandberg's contributions have left an indelible mark on the growth and development of social media platforms worldwide.

Social Networking Sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace. Microblogging Platforms: Twitter. Media Sharing Networks: Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Discussion Forums and Community-Based Platforms: Reddit and Quora. Blogging Platforms: WordPress and Blogger. Social Bookmarking and Content Curation Platforms: Pinterest and Flipboard. Messaging Apps: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.

Facebook (2004), Reddit (2005), Twitter (2006), Instagram (2010), Pinterest (2010), Snapchat (2011), TikTok (2016)

1. Increased Connectivity 2. Information Sharing and Awareness 3. Networking and Professional Opportunities 4. Creativity and Self-Expression 5. Supportive Communities and Causes

1. Privacy Concerns 2. Cyberbullying and Online Harassment 3. Information Overload and Misinformation 4. Time and Productivity Drain 5. Comparison and Self-Esteem Issues

The topic of social media holds significant importance for students as it plays a prominent role in their lives, both academically and socially. Social media platforms provide students with opportunities to connect, collaborate, and share knowledge with peers, expanding their learning networks beyond the confines of the classroom. It facilitates communication and access to educational resources, allowing students to stay updated on academic trends and research. Additionally, social media enhances digital literacy and prepares students for the realities of the digital age. However, it is crucial for students to develop critical thinking skills to navigate the potential pitfalls of social media, such as misinformation and online safety, ensuring a responsible and balanced use of these platforms.

The topic of social media is worthy of being explored in an essay due to its profound impact on various aspects of society. Writing an essay on social media allows for an in-depth examination of its influence on communication, relationships, information sharing, and societal dynamics. It offers an opportunity to analyze the advantages and disadvantages, exploring topics such as privacy, online identities, social activism, and the role of social media in shaping cultural norms. Additionally, studying social media enables a critical evaluation of its effects on mental health, politics, and business. By delving into this subject, one can gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex and ever-evolving digital landscape we inhabit.

1. Social media users spend an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes per day on social networking platforms. This amounts to over 7 years of an individual's lifetime spent on social media, highlighting its significant presence in our daily lives. 2. Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users, with more than 500 million of them using the platform on a daily basis. 3. YouTube has over 2 billion logged-in monthly active users. On average, users spend over 1 billion hours watching YouTube videos every day, emphasizing the platform's extensive reach and the power of video content. 4. Social media has become a major news source, with 48% of people getting their news from social media platforms. This shift in news consumption highlights the role of social media in shaping public opinion and disseminating information in real-time. 5. Influencer marketing has grown exponentially, with 63% of marketers planning to increase their influencer marketing budget in the coming year. This showcases the effectiveness of influencers in reaching and engaging with target audiences, and the value brands place on leveraging social media personalities to promote their products or services.

1. Schober, M. F., Pasek, J., Guggenheim, L., Lampe, C., & Conrad, F. G. (2016). Social media analyses for social measurement. Public opinion quarterly, 80(1), 180-211. (https://academic.oup.com/poq/article-abstract/80/1/180/2593846) 2. Appel, G., Grewal, L., Hadi, R., & Stephen, A. T. (2020). The future of social media in marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing science, 48(1), 79-95. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11747-019-00695-1?error=cookies_not_support) 3. Aichner, T., Grünfelder, M., Maurer, O., & Jegeni, D. (2021). Twenty-five years of social media: a review of social media applications and definitions from 1994 to 2019. Cyberpsychology, behavior, and social networking, 24(4), 215-222. (https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2020.0134) 4. Ruths, D., & Pfeffer, J. (2014). Social media for large studies of behavior. Science, 346(6213), 1063-1064. (https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.346.6213.1063) 5. Hou, Y., Xiong, D., Jiang, T., Song, L., & Wang, Q. (2019). Social media addiction: Its impact, mediation, and intervention. Cyberpsychology: Journal of psychosocial research on cyberspace, 13(1). (https://cyberpsychology.eu/article/view/11562) 6. Auxier, B., & Anderson, M. (2021). Social media use in 2021. Pew Research Center, 1, 1-4. (https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2021/04/PI_2021.04.07_Social-Media-Use_FINAL.pdf) 7. Al-Samarraie, H., Bello, K. A., Alzahrani, A. I., Smith, A. P., & Emele, C. (2021). Young users' social media addiction: causes, consequences and preventions. Information Technology & People, 35(7), 2314-2343. (https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/ITP-11-2020-0753/full/html) 8. Bhargava, V. R., & Velasquez, M. (2021). Ethics of the attention economy: The problem of social media addiction. Business Ethics Quarterly, 31(3), 321-359. (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/business-ethics-quarterly/article/ethics-of-the-attention-economy-the-problem-of-social-mediaaddiction/1CC67609A12E9A912BB8A291FDFFE799)

Relevant topics

  • Media Analysis
  • Effects of Social Media
  • Sociological Imagination
  • Discourse Community
  • Social Justice
  • Sex, Gender and Sexuality
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essay on how social media affects relationships

Feb 15, 2023

6 Example Essays on Social Media | Advantages, Effects, and Outlines

Got an essay assignment about the effects of social media we got you covered check out our examples and outlines below.

Social media has become one of our society's most prominent ways of communication and information sharing in a very short time. It has changed how we communicate and has given us a platform to express our views and opinions and connect with others. It keeps us informed about the world around us. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn have brought individuals from all over the world together, breaking down geographical borders and fostering a genuinely global community.

However, social media comes with its difficulties. With the rise of misinformation, cyberbullying, and privacy problems, it's critical to utilize these platforms properly and be aware of the risks. Students in the academic world are frequently assigned essays about the impact of social media on numerous elements of our lives, such as relationships, politics, and culture. These essays necessitate a thorough comprehension of the subject matter, critical thinking, and the ability to synthesize and convey information clearly and succinctly.

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We will provide various examples of social media essays so you may get a feel for the genre.

6 Examples of Social Media Essays

Here are 6 examples of Social Media Essays:

The Impact of Social Media on Relationships and Communication

Introduction:.

The way we share information and build relationships has evolved as a direct result of the prevalence of social media in our daily lives. The influence of social media on interpersonal connections and conversation is a hot topic. Although social media has many positive effects, such as bringing people together regardless of physical proximity and making communication quicker and more accessible, it also has a dark side that can affect interpersonal connections and dialogue.

Positive Effects:

Connecting People Across Distances

One of social media's most significant benefits is its ability to connect individuals across long distances. People can use social media platforms to interact and stay in touch with friends and family far away. People can now maintain intimate relationships with those they care about, even when physically separated.

Improved Communication Speed and Efficiency

Additionally, the proliferation of social media sites has accelerated and simplified communication. Thanks to instant messaging, users can have short, timely conversations rather than lengthy ones via email. Furthermore, social media facilitates group communication, such as with classmates or employees, by providing a unified forum for such activities.

Negative Effects:

Decreased Face-to-Face Communication

The decline in in-person interaction is one of social media's most pernicious consequences on interpersonal connections and dialogue. People's reliance on digital communication over in-person contact has increased along with the popularity of social media. Face-to-face interaction has suffered as a result, which has adverse effects on interpersonal relationships and the development of social skills.

Decreased Emotional Intimacy

Another adverse effect of social media on relationships and communication is decreased emotional intimacy. Digital communication lacks the nonverbal cues and facial expressions critical in building emotional connections with others. This can make it more difficult for people to develop close and meaningful relationships, leading to increased loneliness and isolation.

Increased Conflict and Miscommunication

Finally, social media can also lead to increased conflict and miscommunication. The anonymity and distance provided by digital communication can lead to misunderstandings and hurtful comments that might not have been made face-to-face. Additionally, social media can provide a platform for cyberbullying , which can have severe consequences for the victim's mental health and well-being.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the impact of social media on relationships and communication is a complex issue with both positive and negative effects. While social media platforms offer many benefits, such as connecting people across distances and enabling faster and more accessible communication, they also have a dark side that can negatively affect relationships and communication. It is up to individuals to use social media responsibly and to prioritize in-person communication in their relationships and interactions with others.

The Role of Social Media in the Spread of Misinformation and Fake News

Social media has revolutionized the way information is shared and disseminated. However, the ease and speed at which data can be spread on social media also make it a powerful tool for spreading misinformation and fake news. Misinformation and fake news can seriously affect public opinion, influence political decisions, and even cause harm to individuals and communities.

The Pervasiveness of Misinformation and Fake News on Social Media

Misinformation and fake news are prevalent on social media platforms, where they can spread quickly and reach a large audience. This is partly due to the way social media algorithms work, which prioritizes content likely to generate engagement, such as sensational or controversial stories. As a result, false information can spread rapidly and be widely shared before it is fact-checked or debunked.

The Influence of Social Media on Public Opinion

Social media can significantly impact public opinion, as people are likelier to believe the information they see shared by their friends and followers. This can lead to a self-reinforcing cycle, where misinformation and fake news are spread and reinforced, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

The Challenge of Correcting Misinformation and Fake News

Correcting misinformation and fake news on social media can be a challenging task. This is partly due to the speed at which false information can spread and the difficulty of reaching the same audience exposed to the wrong information in the first place. Additionally, some individuals may be resistant to accepting correction, primarily if the incorrect information supports their beliefs or biases.

In conclusion, the function of social media in disseminating misinformation and fake news is complex and urgent. While social media has revolutionized the sharing of information, it has also made it simpler for false information to propagate and be widely believed. Individuals must be accountable for the information they share and consume, and social media firms must take measures to prevent the spread of disinformation and fake news on their platforms.

The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health and Well-Being

Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of people around the world using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay connected with others and access information. However, while social media has many benefits, it can also negatively affect mental health and well-being.

Comparison and Low Self-Esteem

One of the key ways that social media can affect mental health is by promoting feelings of comparison and low self-esteem. People often present a curated version of their lives on social media, highlighting their successes and hiding their struggles. This can lead others to compare themselves unfavorably, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

Another way that social media can negatively impact mental health is through cyberbullying and online harassment. Social media provides a platform for anonymous individuals to harass and abuse others, leading to feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression.

Social Isolation

Despite its name, social media can also contribute to feelings of isolation. At the same time, people may have many online friends but need more meaningful in-person connections and support. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Addiction and Overuse

Finally, social media can be addictive, leading to overuse and negatively impacting mental health and well-being. People may spend hours each day scrolling through their feeds, neglecting other important areas of their lives, such as work, family, and self-care.

In sum, social media has positive and negative consequences on one's psychological and emotional well-being. Realizing this, and taking measures like reducing one's social media use, reaching out to loved ones for help, and prioritizing one's well-being, are crucial. In addition, it's vital that social media giants take ownership of their platforms and actively encourage excellent mental health and well-being.

The Use of Social Media in Political Activism and Social Movements

Social media has recently become increasingly crucial in political action and social movements. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have given people new ways to express themselves, organize protests, and raise awareness about social and political issues.

Raising Awareness and Mobilizing Action

One of the most important uses of social media in political activity and social movements has been to raise awareness about important issues and mobilize action. Hashtags such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, for example, have brought attention to sexual harassment and racial injustice, respectively. Similarly, social media has been used to organize protests and other political actions, allowing people to band together and express themselves on a bigger scale.

Connecting with like-minded individuals

A second method in that social media has been utilized in political activity and social movements is to unite like-minded individuals. Through social media, individuals can join online groups, share knowledge and resources, and work with others to accomplish shared objectives. This has been especially significant for geographically scattered individuals or those without access to traditional means of political organizing.

Challenges and Limitations

As a vehicle for political action and social movements, social media has faced many obstacles and restrictions despite its many advantages. For instance, the propagation of misinformation and fake news on social media can impede attempts to disseminate accurate and reliable information. In addition, social media corporations have been condemned for censorship and insufficient protection of user rights.

In conclusion, social media has emerged as a potent instrument for political activism and social movements, giving voice to previously unheard communities and galvanizing support for change. Social media presents many opportunities for communication and collaboration. Still, users and institutions must be conscious of the risks and limitations of these tools to promote their responsible and productive usage.

The Potential Privacy Concerns Raised by Social Media Use and Data Collection Practices

With billions of users each day on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social media has ingrained itself into every aspect of our lives. While these platforms offer a straightforward method to communicate with others and exchange information, they also raise significant concerns over data collecting and privacy. This article will examine the possible privacy issues posed by social media use and data-gathering techniques.

Data Collection and Sharing

The gathering and sharing of personal data are significant privacy issues brought up by social media use. Social networking sites gather user data, including details about their relationships, hobbies, and routines. This information is made available to third-party businesses for various uses, such as marketing and advertising. This can lead to serious concerns about who has access to and uses our personal information.

Lack of Control Over Personal Information

The absence of user control over personal information is a significant privacy issue brought up by social media usage. Social media makes it challenging to limit who has access to and how data is utilized once it has been posted. Sensitive information may end up being extensively disseminated and may be used maliciously as a result.

Personalized Marketing

Social media companies utilize the information they gather about users to target them with adverts relevant to their interests and usage patterns. Although this could be useful, it might also cause consumers to worry about their privacy since they might feel that their personal information is being used without their permission. Furthermore, there are issues with the integrity of the data being used to target users and the possibility of prejudice based on individual traits.

Government Surveillance

Using social media might spark worries about government surveillance. There are significant concerns regarding privacy and free expression when governments in some nations utilize social media platforms to follow and monitor residents.

In conclusion, social media use raises significant concerns regarding data collecting and privacy. While these platforms make it easy to interact with people and exchange information, they also gather a lot of personal information, which raises questions about who may access it and how it will be used. Users should be aware of these privacy issues and take precautions to safeguard their personal information, such as exercising caution when choosing what details to disclose on social media and keeping their information sharing with other firms to a minimum.

The Ethical and Privacy Concerns Surrounding Social Media Use And Data Collection

Our use of social media to communicate with loved ones, acquire information, and even conduct business has become a crucial part of our everyday lives. The extensive use of social media does, however, raise some ethical and privacy issues that must be resolved. The influence of social media use and data collecting on user rights, the accountability of social media businesses, and the need for improved regulation are all topics that will be covered in this article.

Effect on Individual Privacy:

Social networking sites gather tons of personal data from their users, including delicate information like search history, location data, and even health data. Each user's detailed profile may be created with this data and sold to advertising or used for other reasons. Concerns regarding the privacy of personal information might arise because social media businesses can use this data to target users with customized adverts.

Additionally, individuals might need to know how much their personal information is being gathered and exploited. Data breaches or the unauthorized sharing of personal information with other parties may result in instances where sensitive information is exposed. Users should be aware of the privacy rules of social media firms and take precautions to secure their data.

Responsibility of Social Media Companies:

Social media firms should ensure that they responsibly and ethically gather and use user information. This entails establishing strong security measures to safeguard sensitive information and ensuring users are informed of what information is being collected and how it is used.

Many social media businesses, nevertheless, have come under fire for not upholding these obligations. For instance, the Cambridge Analytica incident highlighted how Facebook users' personal information was exploited for political objectives without their knowledge. This demonstrates the necessity of social media corporations being held responsible for their deeds and ensuring that they are safeguarding the security and privacy of their users.

Better Regulation Is Needed

There is a need for tighter regulation in this field, given the effect, social media has on individual privacy as well as the obligations of social media firms. The creation of laws and regulations that ensure social media companies are gathering and using user information ethically and responsibly, as well as making sure users are aware of their rights and have the ability to control the information that is being collected about them, are all part of this.

Additionally, legislation should ensure that social media businesses are held responsible for their behavior, for example, by levying fines for data breaches or the unauthorized use of personal data. This will provide social media businesses with a significant incentive to prioritize their users' privacy and security and ensure they are upholding their obligations.

In conclusion, social media has fundamentally changed how we engage and communicate with one another, but this increased convenience also raises several ethical and privacy issues. Essential concerns that need to be addressed include the effect of social media on individual privacy, the accountability of social media businesses, and the requirement for greater regulation to safeguard user rights. We can make everyone's online experience safer and more secure by looking more closely at these issues.

In conclusion, social media is a complex and multifaceted topic that has recently captured the world's attention. With its ever-growing influence on our lives, it's no surprise that it has become a popular subject for students to explore in their writing. Whether you are writing an argumentative essay on the impact of social media on privacy, a persuasive essay on the role of social media in politics, or a descriptive essay on the changes social media has brought to the way we communicate, there are countless angles to approach this subject.

However, writing a comprehensive and well-researched essay on social media can be daunting. It requires a thorough understanding of the topic and the ability to articulate your ideas clearly and concisely. This is where Jenni.ai comes in. Our AI-powered tool is designed to help students like you save time and energy and focus on what truly matters - your education. With Jenni.ai , you'll have access to a wealth of examples and receive personalized writing suggestions and feedback.

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  7. Effects of Social Media on Interpersonal Relationships

    The average response was a 3.71, with nobody rating higher than a seven. This confirms that a reduction of cues results in a feeling of lower connectivity. Figure 2. Connectivity in online relationships. Reduced connectivity is not the only negative side effect of limited social cues in social media however.

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  9. The Impact of Social Media on Relationships

    In 2019, the average person spent 144 minutes per day on social media (Clement, 2020). According to Media Dependency Theory, the higher dependence a person has on media the stronger the influence of media on the individual's perceptions and behaviors (Joo & Teng, 2017, p. 36). A study conducted in 2018 by Brigham Young University found that extensive social media usage is linked with ...

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  14. Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic

    Abstract. Social media are responsible for aggravating mental health problems. This systematic study summarizes the effects of social network usage on mental health. Fifty papers were shortlisted from google scholar databases, and after the application of various inclusion and exclusion criteria, 16 papers were chosen and all papers were ...

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    APA's Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence makes these recommendations based on the scientific evidence to date: Youth using social media should be encouraged to use functions that create opportunities for social support, online companionship, and emotional intimacy that can promote healthy socialization.

  16. Impact of Social Media on Relationships Essay

    Impact of Social Media on Relationships Essay. Social networking can connect strangers across the world. As the evolution of communication continues, technology progresses and social networking grows. Social networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have grown to have billions of users. In fact in today's society, it is necessary or ...

  17. Social media harms teens' mental health, mounting evidence shows. What now?

    The effects of social media consumption on adolescent psychological well-being. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research , in press, 2024. doi: 10.1086/728739.

  18. The Impact of Social Media: Causes and Effects

    Social media can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression by creating a constant need for validation and comparison. The curated nature of social media feeds can lead individuals to develop unrealistic expectations and feelings of inadequacy. 3. Impact of social media on overall well-being and relationships.

  19. How Social Media Affects Relationships Essay

    The overall obsessiveness of having social media as a guide in relationships is detrimental to its success. Couples that are so focused on the aspect of social media tend to neglect the element of communication. The idea of a couple that is successful relies on their ability to effectively communicate with each other.

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    People's reliance on digital communication over in-person contact has increased along with the popularity of social media. Face-to-face interaction has suffered as a result, which has adverse effects on interpersonal relationships and the development of social skills. Decreased Emotional Intimacy.

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    Definition 2: Social media includes the various online technology tools that enable people to communicate easily via the internet to share information and resources. Social media can include text, audio, video, images, podcasts, and other multimedia communication. Definition of the new phenomenon "Facebook Jealousy".