The Impact of Social Media on Students’ Mental Health:

The Impact of Social Media on Students:

How often do you find yourself doomscrolling? Endlessly scrolling through social media, going from one app to the other in a seemingly pointless cycle?

Social media has become an integral part of the lives of students, offering platforms for communication, connection, and self-expression. However, alongside its benefits, social media has also raised concerns about its impact on mental health, particularly among young people. From increased anxiety and depression to diminished self-esteem and body image issues, the effects of social media on students’ mental well-being are significant and multifaceted. Let’s delve into the numbers to better understand the impact of social media on students.

Rise in Anxiety and Depression

According to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, rates of anxiety and depression among young people have risen significantly over the past decade.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 91% of Gen Z adults (those born between 1997 and 2012) reported experiencing physical or emotional symptoms of stress, such as depression or anxiety, due to social media. The impact of social media on students has been incredibly mixed because of this, the increased connectivity has created a constant pressure to present a curated version of oneself online, coupled with the fear of missing out (FOMO), can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.

Negative Body Image

The impact of social media on students can create comparison with unrealistic beauty standards portrayed on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, this can lead to feelings of insecurity and dissatisfaction with one’s appearance.

Much research suggests that exposure to idealised images on social media platforms can contribute to negative body image and eating disorders among adolescents. This is not helped by celebrities such as the Rock, who achieved their physique with a bit of *help* claiming to be fully natural, giving young men the perception that such a physique is achievable and anything less is imperfect.

This also goes for young women who look up to models which have had much plastic surgery, or better yet, use photoshop to alter their appearance, giving more unrealistic expectations of beauty. Many “influencers” tend to fake their actual body images and sell their “personalised diet plans” which will supposedly help you achieve their aesthetic. This obviously doesn’t have the same results, and causes many women to have body dysmorphia. Showing that the impact of social media on students can result in a negative perception of themselves.


Cyberbullying, or the use of electronic communication to harass or intimidate others, is a pervasive issue on social media platforms. Students may experience bullying, harassment, or exclusion online, leading to profound psychological distress and even suicidal ideation in extreme cases.

According to a report by the Cyberbullying Research Centre, approximately 37% of students aged 12 to 17 have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetime. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that victims of cyberbullying were more likely to report depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation compared to those who had not experienced cyberbullying. In the past, even if an individual was bullied, that bullying often stopped after school. Whereas now, with the rise of the internet and social media, bullying can take place 24/7. This suggests that the impact of social media on students can be very negative.

Sleep Disturbances

Excessive use of social media, particularly before bedtime, can disrupt students’ sleep patterns and contribute to poor sleep quality. The blue light emitted by screens suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles, leading to difficulties falling asleep and disrupted sleep patterns.

One of our previous articles highlights the benefits of taking a social media detox, if you find yourself compulsively reaching for your phone at all times, it may be worth having a read and doing a social media detox!

Validation Seeking Behaviour

The impact of social media on students may make them become overly reliant on social media for validation and approval, seeking likes, comments, and shares to bolster their self-esteem. This validation-seeking behaviour can create a cycle of dependence on external validation, detracting from students’ ability to develop a strong sense of self-worth and resilience.

Much research has shown that once an individual gains significant status, and loses it for one reason or another (such as having their social media account blocked or deleted), they have a tendency to slip into depressive and suicidal episodes as a result, as they are no longer gaining the social validation.

Navigating the Digital Landscape: Strategies for Well-Being

While the impact of social media on students’ mental health is undeniable, there are steps that students, parents, educators, and policymakers can take to mitigate its negative effects:

  1. Digital Detox: Encourage students to take regular breaks from social media and limit their screen time, particularly before bedtime.
  2. Promote Digital Literacy: Educate students about the risks and pitfalls of social media, including cyberbullying, misinformation, and privacy concerns.
  3. Foster Open Communication: Create a supportive environment where students feel comfortable discussing their experiences with social media and seeking help if needed.
  4. Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Teach students healthy ways to cope with stress and manage their emotions, such as mindfulness, exercise, and creative outlets.
  5. Model Healthy Behaviour: Set a positive example by demonstrating healthy digital habits and prioritising face-to-face interactions and real-world connections.

The Impact of Social Media on Students’ Mental Health – Final Thoughts:

The impact of social media on students has changed the way students communicate, socialise, and navigate the world. While it offers numerous benefits, including connection and community, it also presents significant challenges to students’ mental health and well-being. By raising awareness of the potential risks associated with social media and promoting strategies for navigating the digital landscape safely and responsibly, we can empower students to harness the positive aspects of social media while safeguarding their mental health.

Want to know what other problems are commonly faced by students other than the impact of social media on students? Check out one of our previous articles on the top 5 most common student problems!

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