How Does Social Media Really Affect Us?

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Social media gets a lot of attention because our lives are becoming increasingly intertwined in it. You can sign up for just about anything with a Facebook account login. All channels of social media somehow connect to one another so you can post across multiple platforms. Your phone can ring all day with notifications and alerts regarding activity within your social media world. Soon, Facebook has leaked, there will even be virtual reality hangout rooms where you can interact with your friends in a virtual space, interacting with mixed media and more.

What about real space, where real people live? Reports of the way social media affects the human brain are varied. Some reports reveal that social media engagement, from receiving a “like” on a photo to scrolling through a news feed can activate our brains the same way drugs like cocaine do. Other reports have found that social media can boost our self-esteem. Contrastly, reports have found that social media is devastating for body image and confidence. Every list of sleep recommendations includes staying away from social media before bedtime. Productivity suggestions emphasize not getting on social media first thing in the morning. It seems there’s no right way to balance social media use and continue to maintain mental health. According to On The Mind, these are some of the key ways we are affected by social media use:


Various research has found that the power of the “like” function, or any other function on social media which indicates a positive reaction to something we posted, stimulates the brain. It creates a reward circuit pattern, not unlike drugs and alcohol. Essentially, the article explains, we’ve trained ourselves to react to those positive reactions. When we don’t receive the response we think we do, we feel insecure and lose that quick boost of self-esteem we had just achieved.

Social Media For Good

Social media has produced a lot of positive movements which have helped to shift paradigms and unravel decades old way of thinking. From body positivity to wider acceptance of mental health, trending hashtags and challenges online have helped create conversation that might have taken decades more to have.

Social Media For Bad

On a similar coin to how social media has promoted unity and acceptance it has also created divides. Hidden behind the strength and security of social media platforms and screens, people can act in ways they might not normally act. Primarily, that means they can become online bullies. Online bullying, broadcasting live videos of violent acts, and other troubling uses of social media have come about, harming people’s lives, costing people’s lives, and more.

Avalon Malibu is a residential treatment center for primary mental health diagnosis as well as dual diagnosis substance use disorders. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or bullying due to your social media use, help is available. Call us for a confidential assessment at 1 888-958-7511.

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