Instagram or Instasad? Social Media’s Effects on Mental Health

Unfortunately, it is true that today’s youth are much more familiar with mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety. If you are in middle or high school, it is likely that you or someone you know is affected by anxiety, depression or both. In 2016, 2.6 percent of adolescents were diagnosed with depression, which is a 33 percent increase since 2005. You’re probably wondering: “Why the increase?”

While there is no straight, clear answer as to why more and more youth are struggling with mental illness, there are some speculations. One hypothesis is the exponential use of social media has played a part in the rise of mental illness in kids and teens. You may have rolled your eyes while reading that, but social media has been conjectured to be a strong factor in the rise of depression among youth.

In the last decade, social media usage has undoubtedly skyrocketed. While social media is not all bad, there are definitely significant negative effects. Most would agree that social media has somewhat affected their self esteem. This problem especially persists in young girls. Along with wishing they looked like what they perceive as perfect, many kids are also afraid of the judgment that comes along with social media. In an age where anything and everything can be posted for the world to see, the pressure to post something perfect can weigh heavy on some.

However, the social aspect of social media may not be the only reason for the rise of mental illness in kids and teenagers. Another big contribution to teen depression is sleep deprivation. The blue lights that come from your screens can reduce the production of melatonin in your body. Without enough melatonin, your body has a hard time getting to sleep.

While on social media you can often lose track of time and end up spending much longer on it than intended. Before you know it, you’ve been scrolling through your feed for an hour and are now behind on needed sleep. To decrease the negative impacts screen usage has on sleep, the National Sleep Foundation suggests you set your phone in another room or across the room from where you sleep. Additionally, make attempts to avoid using devices for at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

As for the other negative impacts that come along with social media, try to lessen your usage and learn a new skill or hobby.