Social Media

7 Negative Effects of Social Media on People and Users

Ben Stegner Updated 04-02-2020

If you can’t imagine your life without social media, you’ve probably fallen victim to the power that social networking sites have on people. The chances are that you’ve also experienced some of the negative effects of social media on people who use them.

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Unfortunately, the bad effects of social media are all too real for a lot of us. Let’s look at the negative impact of social media on real people that happens every day.

How Social Media Is Bad for You

You might be surprised to learn that the negative effects of social media are both physical and mental. They can change your perception of the world and yourself. While social media does have some positive effects 6 Positive Effects Social Media Sites Have on Society There are good things about social networking. Here's our exploration of the positive effects of social media and why it's good. Read More , it also has a lot in the drawback column.

Don’t believe it? Read on for a list of social media’s negative effects. If you recognize any of them as issues in your own life, it may be time to reduce your usage or even stop using social media altogether.

1. Depression and Anxiety

Do you spend several hours per day browsing through social media? Spending too long on social networking sites could be adversely affecting your mood. In fact, chronic users are more likely to report poor mental health, including symptoms of anxiety and depression.

It doesn’t take much thinking to figure out why. Social media lets you see the carefully selected best parts of everyone else’s lives, which you compare to the negatives in your own life. Comparing yourself to other people is a sure path to anxiety, and social media has only made this easier to do.

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So how do you use social media without causing yourself psychological distress? If you turn to the same research (and common sense), the recommended amount of time you should spend on social networks is around half an hour per day. As with many other potential ills in life, it’s all about moderation.

2. Cyberbullying

Teenage Girl Being Bullied By Text Message
Image Credit: HighwayStarz/Depositphotos

Before social media, bullying was something that was only possible to do face-to-face. However, now people can bully others online—anonymously or not. Today everyone knows what cyberbullying is, and most of us have seen what it can do to a person.

While social media makes it easier to meet new people and make friends, it also enables cruel people to tear into others with little effort. Perpetrators of bullying can use the anonymity that social networks provide to gain people’s trust and then terrorize them in front of their peers. For instance, they might create a fake profile and act friendly to a classmate, then later betray and embarrass them online.

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These online attacks often leave deep mental scars and even drive people to suicide in some cases. And as it turns out, cyberbullying doesn’t just affect kids. Adults can become victims of online abuse, too. Since screens hide our faces, you can end up being a jerk on social media and other websites without even realizing it.

Learn how to hide your social media profiles How to Hide Your Social Media Profiles From Bullies Social networking sites can be a breeding ground for bullying. Here's how to hide your social media profiles from bullies. Read More if you suffer from this issue.

3. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a phenomenon that was born around the same time as the rise of social media. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the most widespread negative effects of social media on society.

FOMO is just what it sounds like: a form of anxiety that you get when you’re scared of missing out on a positive experience that someone else is having. For example, you might constantly check your messages to see if anyone has invited you out, or focus on your Instagram feed all day to make sure that nobody is doing something cool without you.

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This fear receives constant fuel from what you see on social media. With increased social network use, there’s a better chance for you to see that someone is having more fun that you are right now. And that’s exactly what causes FOMO.

4. Unrealistic Expectations

Girl taking an exaggerated selfie
Image Credit: prometeus/Depositphotos

As most people probably know by now, social media forms unrealistic expectations of life and friendships in our minds.

Most social media sites have a severe lack of online authenticity. People use Snapchat to share their exciting adventures, post about how much they love their significant other on Facebook, and load up their Instagram page with heavily staged photos.

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But in reality, you have no way of knowing whether this is all a farce. While it looks great on the surface, that person could be in massive debt, on bad terms with their significant other, and just desperate for Instagram likes as a form of validation.

One simple way out of this mess is for everyone to quit lying on social media. But in the era of Instagram influencers and YouTubers who earn millions from being inauthentic, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

5. Negative Body Image

Speaking of Instagram celebrities, if you look at popular Instagram accounts, you’ll find unbelievably beautiful people wearing expensive clothes on their perfectly shaped bodies.

Today, body image is an issue for everyone. Of course, seeing so many people who are supposedly perfect (according to society’s standards) on a daily basis makes you conscious about how different you look from those pictures. And not everyone comes to healthy conclusions in this situation.

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It’s really important to remember that everybody is human. No one wakes up every day looking like a supermodel, and while many people have gone to great lengths to train their bodies, that’s not the case for everyone who looks fit. Many people, in search of social media fame, have definitely taken unhealthy routes to appear more attractive.

Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, and you won’t have to stress about Instagram beauty.

6. Unhealthy Sleep Patterns

On top of increasing the incidents of anxiety and depression, spending too much time on social media can lead to poor sleep. Numerous studies have shown that increased use of social media has a negative effect on your sleep quality.

If you feel like your sleep patterns have become irregular and have led to a drop in productivity, try to cut down on the amount of time you browse social media.

This is especially the case when using your phone in bed at night. It’s all too easy to tell yourself that you’ll spend five minutes checking your Facebook notifications, only to realize an hour later that you’ve been mindlessly scrolling through Twitter content you don’t even care about. Don’t let social media algorithms steal your valuable sleep.

7. General Addiction

using smartphone

Social media can be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. It has a powerful draw for many people that leads to them checking it all the time without even thinking about it.

If you’re not sure whether you’re addicted to social networks, try to remember the last time you went a full day without checking any social media accounts. Do you feel rejected if someone unfollows you? And if your favorite social networks completely disappeared tomorrow, would it make you feel empty and depressed?

At the end of the day, social media sites want to keep you scrolling for as long as possible so they can show you lots of ads and make more money. Because of the attention economy What Is the Attention Economy? Here's Why You Should Care To make money, companies need your attention. This is known as the "attention economy." Here's what that means for you. Read More , these sites need your eyes on them for as long as possible.

Just because you’ve been going overboard on social media use doesn’t mean you necessarily need to wipe out all social networking platforms. However, if you think quitting is the best solution for you, it isn’t a bad idea. In fact, you can find out what it’s like to quit social media What Happens When You Quit Social Media? 6 Things I Learned If you're planning to quit social media, you might have questions about what comes next. Here's what you can expect. Read More through a firsthand story.

How to Handle the Negative Effects of Social Media

As with everything else, there are good and bad aspects of social media. We’ve discussed some of the negative impacts social media has for many, but you’re the one who must decide whether there’s more help or harm in it for you personally.

If you find that social media is having a negative impact on your life, quit. However, if you decide to stay, use our tips to waste less time on social media 7 Tips to Help You Waste Less Time on Social Media Here are several tips and tricks you can use to waste less time on social media and become a happier individual. Read More to maintain your hobby in a healthy manner.

Explore more about: Addiction, Depression, Facebook, Instagram, Sleep Health, Snapchat, Twitter.

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  1. Lisa R Smith
    March 8, 2020 at 1:15 am

    Very well written article.

  2. Maryon Jeane
    February 4, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Social media, like the Internet itself, is just a platform, a public space, a tool. Used well it's another way of interacting with other people and learning about the world; used badly it can be all the negatives mentioned in this article.

    If you interact with your real life friends only (and a natural wider circle which includes friends of friends etc. - just as in real life), most of the problems are obviated from the outset. If someone is badly behaved (making unpleasant remarks/responses, constantly posting negative material, etc.), then - as in real life - try to nip it in the bud; if they won't behave, shut them out. Just as you would in real life.

    If we all have - and demand from others - good standards of behaviour then there isn't a problem with social media or the Internet. Some people haven't been shown how to behave well, and for them social media and the Internet can be a source of learning if they're willing to learn. For the sociopaths, psychopaths, and just plain antisocial, they're not going to learn and they're going to behave badly both online and off.

    We're blaming the medium and no ourselves, aren't we?

    • dragonmouth
      February 5, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      "We're blaming the medium and no ourselves, aren't we?"
      Then why are we blaming guns (the medium) for all the shootings? A gun is an inanimate object that on its own is not capable of any action. It is the people who misuse guns that are responsible. Why is that fact not generally recognized?!

      You are, of course, right. However, over the past few decades, we have gone from Shakespeare's “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” to Flip Wilson's "The devil made me do it!" No matter what we do, the fault is not ours. We are always the victims of someone else's actions. We do not want to take responsibility for our actions.

  3. thomas
    January 16, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    i hate this website

  4. inonimus
    December 13, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    social media is awsome what are you talkinag about losers

  5. lkgoetz
    November 5, 2019 at 11:21 am

    men and women foeget they're in a relationship already, but somehow deny what they're doing when confronted. it's ok though, it's just social media, right? i don't blame social media, i blame the liars and cheaters outhere

  6. me
    November 5, 2019 at 11:18 am

    social media, in itself really can be a good thing. For responsible, mindful people. But that's the real kicker right there: people (both men and women) see a dating or hookup ad and cannot resist the urge to loook

  7. nizla
    October 23, 2019 at 11:32 am

    this is good. subscribe to pewdiepie

  8. Nandhini
    September 25, 2019 at 9:10 am

    The article was quite interesting that was felt natural interaction..and gained some thing out of my box of learning.

  9. Monique
    August 11, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    DO NOT EVEN GO ON THOSE MEDIA PLATFORMS. They strip people from their happiness by giving them the anxiety and less sleeping, its like we’re slaves! Then the media teaches you to be materialistic, like with what people post on Instagram displaying the brands they wear like Gucci or Louis Vuitton or whatever. Those brands just use people to promote their stuff not caring that it corrupts their supporters at the same time with materialism, which further detaches people from reality. THEN those platforms like Snapchat or Instagram reduce your confidence by you getting the fear of missing out and feeling disappointed when you see the people with “perfect bodies”, nice clothes, and seemingly perfect lives.

    • lkgoetz
      November 5, 2019 at 11:23 am

      great answer!

  10. LANSANA K. KERRAH
    July 23, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    The article is not clear/readable.
    Please repost it
    I have interest on this article.

    • James Frew
      December 11, 2019 at 4:23 pm

      In what way was it not clear or readable?

  11. loser
    July 11, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    this article was helpfull

  12. Boss
    June 8, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    This article forgets about the biggest issue! Social media is not as complex or as personal as a real conversation whether in-person or over a phone. This is a very dangerous phenom since truly understanding society, history and geopolitico issues takes more complex communication and debate than social allows. Our society is screwed!!!!

  13. Yash
    June 4, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    This is a best article for this particular topic .

  14. Paula Lorraine Thomson
    April 30, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    I Quit Facebook after 3 yrs
    I have been Facebook free for 7 yrs !!
    I am not on any other social media..
    I love the fact that my phone does not demand my attention every second..
    My life is my own
    I'm not influenced by anything or anybody..
    It's beautiful and I don't need the whole world to look at me
    I don't want to look at a bunch of posing 'try hards'
    It ruins relationship s
    It's the biggest gossip column
    It is. Pathetic!!
    Try living your own life...?

  15. Harmony W.
    March 29, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    I love how you have this article, then have a whole bunch of other articles of what you can do on social media on how you can make yourself look better to the online community. It also doesn’t help when you don’t give statistics and state that there is still a lot of evidence to be conducted.

  16. Claire
    March 8, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    i think social media is good. yes, this article does have good reasons and some of them are a little true. the first one (depression and anxiety), i very much disagree with. i suffer from anxiety and i know for a fact that it has nothing in common with social media. most of my true friends i met through social media and they have no problems with it. it is not social media that makes problems; it is the users. please stop saying it makes people have anxiety and depression.

  17. Claire
    March 8, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    i think social media is good. yes, this article does have good reasons and some of them are a little true. the first one (depression and anxiety), i very much disagree with. i suffer from anxiety and i know for a fact that it has nothing in common with social media. most of my true friends i met through social media and they have no problems with it. it is not social media that makes problems; it is the users. please stop saying it makes people have anxiety and depression.

    • James Frew
      December 11, 2019 at 4:26 pm

      To quote from the article:

      "...you’re more likely to report poor mental health, including symptoms of anxiety and depression."

      The article does not take a stance on whether this is a causal relationship, just that people who use social media are more likely to report suffering from those symptoms.

  18. lauren
    November 12, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    this article helped me a lot with a school paper!

  19. Danilo
    October 21, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    It was a very nice publication. I'm thinking of quitting social media because i feel that i'm just spending my time for no reason. There is a TED Talk that is very interesting that talks about it, named: Why you should quit social media.

  20. Mark Tristan R. Ocampo
    May 20, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Thankful for No. 4 - Unrealistic Expectations... When most of your so-called friends are too beautiful and too rich and too happy and too much of everything. Yes, thanks to that, it made me use social media (especially Facebook) LESS. Social media felt more of like a medium where people try to be the most beautiful and the best, etc. No need for that BS.

    • naijacliqspot
      November 21, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      Thank God for digital well-being, The use of social media to compare life's is invariably rampared, trying to do much to impress the world...
      Every social media user needs a nudge..
      Nice write-up