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Mental Health and Social Media
Amanda Vu
West Coast University
Society has increasingly exposed themselves to technology overtime. Though, some still might
question: is the exposure of the applications, such as social media, on their smart devices
beneficial for their mental health? Parents are worried whether or not the upbringing of their
children and teens with social media would be an advantage or disadvantage. Research had
focused their studies on social media’s effect on the development of young adults and teenagers.
Researchers analyzed the brain activities, sleep patterns, and lifestyle of the children and
teenagers as they continued to use social media. From multiple case studies, it was demonstrated
that social media all had negatively affected the self-esteem, sleeping schedules, and health of
the participants. Rather, social media’s effects were connected to depression and suicide. Results
of the case studies’ findings shows society to become much more aware and cautious about the
disadvantages of social media on their mental health.
Keywords: social media, teenagers, young adults, mental health, influences
Mental Health and Social Media
Technology allows society to connect and maintain relationships with one touch away
because of their smart devices. Society has been viewed to be reliant on text messages and social
media such as, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, over the years. Though, many are
not aware of social media’s effects on societies’ overall health. Currently, many case studies
have gone in depth into how social media puts society, especially young adults and teenagers, in
harm. The disadvantages of social media heavily outweigh its advantages. An estimated ninety
percent of people in the United States use technology within the last hour in order to entertain or
relax themselves before sleep. Using social media before bed can interrupt the body’s internal
clock, or the circadian rhythm (Why Electronics May Stimulate You Before Bed). It may even
prevent the brain from secreting an efficient amount of melatonin, a hormone in the brain that
induces sleep. By using a functional MRI, researchers were able to view the responses of
adolescents when other social media users interacted with them. Those who had conducted the
case study were able to see how each response had negatively affected the participants’
behaviors and mental health.
The researchers had developed a functional MRI paradigm in order to view the behaviors
and reactions of the teens and young adults while using social media (Sherman, L. E., Payton, A.
A., Hernandez, L. M., Greenfield, P. M., & Dapretto, M., 2016). The fMRI paradigm allowed the
researchers to see which stimuli were activated during the brain’s response to other user’s
interactions on their profile. The higher the activity of different neural regions, the more positive
the feedback. In another research, a SCOFF Questionnaire and Eating Disorder Screen for
Primary Care test was used for about 2,000 young adults who used social media (Sidani, J. E.,
Shensa, A., Hoffman, B., Hanmer, J., & Primack, B. A.,2016). All participants between the ages
of nineteen and thirty-two were each selected randomly online. Also, the subjects were asked to
estimate how much they were on social media thirty minutes before they had gone to sleep for
the night. Most social media participants had estimated times that were much less than they had
actually used their phone before bed. After the researchers had used the Patient-Reported
Outcomes Measurement Information System, or PROMIS, to measure the participants’
disturbance of sleep (Levenson, J. C., Shensa, A., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., & Primack, B. A.,
2017). The PROMIS Sleep Disturbance Measure calculated the correlation of social media to the
participants’ sleep patterns. Altogether, researchers were able to combine their data to conclude
social media’s effect on society.
The PROMIS Sleep Disturbance measure had calculated the amount of sleep the young
adults were actually getting with the influence of social media. A short-wave length is produced
from the smart devices, which disturbs people’s sleep pattern. The blue light decreases the
secretion of the melatonin hormone in the brain and body. Some of the participants were
observed to wake up in the middle of the night to check the interactions, for example, likes and
comments, their posts would receive. If not many other users had liked or commented on their
posts, the participant would be likely to have about a one-point-six odds ratio for an increased
sleep disturbance (Levenson, J. C., Shensa, A., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., & Primack, B. A.,
2017). The fMRI had recorded the stimuli of the participants who had received little and many
likes on their posts. The researchers also had concluded that the participants would be more
likely to interact with other users who had more likes and comments on their post (Sherman, L.
E., Payton, A. A., Hernandez, L. M., Greenfield, P. M., & Dapretto, M., 2016). The brain gave a
higher, positive feedback when the social media participants had a higher amount of likes and
comments on their post. This was determined by the increase of different neural regions’ activity.
The brain’s feedback resulted with a This connects the influence of other people’s actions on
social media with those within the study. The participants believed that receiving more likes and
being a part of another post that received a high amount of user interaction was rewarding. The
last test had also provided evidence of social media’s negative influence on society. The case
study had determined that individuals who had spent the most time, considering how much time
was spent per day and how many visits per week, were likely to have an increasingly higher
chance of developing an eating disorder. The adjusted odds ratio was calculated to be within the
range of two and two-point-five. Due to the influence, people would skip out on meals and be
occupied by social media.
Table 1. Multitask Learning for Mental Health Conditions with Limited Social Media Data 2017
Note. The data observed and analyzed by researchers of 9,611 social media users. Listed
are the top disorders that are associated with the use of social media and is compared with
neurotypicality. About a quarter of the social media users examined were suffering from anxiety.
Table 2.. The brain activity and stimuli of social media users who had received a few amount of
likes or a great amount of likes (Sherman, L. E., Payton, A. A., Hernandez, L. M., Greenfield, P.)
Note. The social media users that were analyzed displayed the most positive feedback
within their fMRI brain scan when their posts received many likes compared to when their posts
receive few likes.The variable, “z”, is determined by the brain’s neural regions that had reacted
to the posts. Participants had had the most brain activity when they had received a great amount
of likes and comments on their own post. When they revieved few likes, their z had equalled to
All three tests had mainly demonstrated the negative outcomes that were connected.
Social media influences users to bandwagon, cause disturbance to sleep, and cause eating
disorders. The conductors of the case studies did not mention much information or data for
participants who received a great feedback by their interactions with other people on their social
media accounts. The research methods and results were professionally and meticulously
performed and collected. All three tests had been recorded in a short period of time, which does
not allow society to determine the long-term effects of their mental health due to social media. It
was predicted that negative interactions such as, receiving a little amount of likes or negative
comments, could lead individuals to depression and anxiety, but there is not enough research to
prove these allegations. If more case studies that examine the link between mental health and
social media were to be held over longer periods of time, this would allow for an even deeper
How and Why Using Electronic Devices at Night Can Interfere With Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved
March 19, 2019, from
Hovy, D., Mitchell, M., & Benton, A. (2017). Multitask Learning for Mental Health
Conditions with Limited Social Media Data – Semantic Scholar. Retrieved March 1, 2019,
Levenson, J. C., Shensa, A., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., & Primack, B. A. (2017, September 01).
Social Media Use Before Bed and Sleep Disturbance Among Young Adults in the United
States: A Nationally Representative Study. Retrieved March 1, 2019, from
Sherman, L. E., Payton, A. A., Hernandez, L. M., Greenfield, P. M., & Dapretto, M. (2016, July).
The Power of the Like in Adolescence: Effects of Peer Influence on Neural and Behavioral
Responses to Social Media. Retrieved March 1, 2019, from
Sidani, J. E., Shensa, A., Hoffman, B., Hanmer, J., & Primack, B. A. (2016, September). The
Association between Social Media Use and Eating Concerns among US Young Adults.
Retrieved March 1, 2019, from

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