Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review (2023)

Human beings are social creatures that require the companionship of others to make progress in life. Thus, being socially connected with other people can relieve stress, anxiety, and sadness, but lack of social connection can pose serious risks to mental health [1].

Social media

Social media has recently become part of people's daily activities; many of them spend hours each day on Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, and other popular social media. Thus, many researchers and scholars study the impact of social media and applications on various aspects of people’s lives[2]. Moreover, the number of social media users worldwide in 2019 is 3.484 billion, up 9% year-on-year[3-5].A statistic in Figure1shows the gender distribution of social media audiences worldwide as of January 2020, sorted by platform. It was found that only 38% of Twitter users were male but 61% were using Snapchat. In contrast, females were more likely to use LinkedIn and Facebook. There is no denying that social mediahas now become an importantpartof manypeople's lives. Social media has many positive and enjoyable benefits, but it can also lead to mental health problems. Previous research found that age did not have an effect but gender did; females were much more likely to experience mental health than males[6,7].

Figure1:Gender distribution of social media audiences worldwide as of January 2020, sorted by platform

Impact on mental health

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which people understand their abilities, solve everyday life problems, work well, and make a significant contribution to the lives of their communities[8]. There is debated presently going on regarding the benefits and negative impacts of social media on mental health[9,10]. Social networking is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. Both the quantity and quality of social relationships affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk[9]. The Displaced Behavior Theory may help explain why social media shows a connection with mental health. According to the theory, people who spend more time in sedentary behaviors such as social media use have less time for face-to-face social interaction, both of which have been proven to be protective against mental disorders[11,12]. On the other hand, social theories found how social media use affects mental health by influencing how people view, maintain, and interact with their social network[13]. A number of studies have been conducted on the impacts of social media, and it has been indicated that the prolonged use of social media platforms such as Facebook may be related to negative signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress[10-15]. Furthermore, social media can create a lot of pressure to create the stereotype that others want to see and also being as popular as others.

The need for a systematic review

Systematic studies can quantitatively and qualitatively identify, aggregate, and evaluate all accessible data to generate a warm and accurate response to the research questions involved[4]. In addition, many existing systematic studies related to mental health studies have been conducted worldwide. However, only a limited number of studies are integrated with social media and conducted in the context of social science because the available literature heavily focused on medical science[6]. Because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, the potential links between their use and mental health have not been widely investigated.

(Video) The Association Between Social Media Use and Mental Health in Adolescence: A Systematic Review

This paper attempt to systematically review all the relevant literature with the aim of filling the gap by examining social media impact on mental health, which is sedentary behavior, which, if in excess, raises the risk of health problems[7,9,12]. This study is important because it provides information on the extent of the focus of peer review literature, which can assist the researchers in delivering a prospect with the aim of understanding the future attention related to climate change strategies that require scholarly attention. This study is very useful because it provides information on the extent to which peer review literature can assist researchers in presenting prospects with a view to understanding future concerns related to mental health strategies that require scientific attention. The development of the current systematic review is based on the main research question: how does social media affect mental health?

Research strategy

The research was conducted to identify studies analyzing the role of social media on mental health. Google Scholar was used as our main database to find the relevant articles. Keywords that were used for the search were: (1) “social media”, (2) “mental health”, (3) “social media” AND “mental health”, (4) “social networking” AND “mental health”, and (5) “social networking” OR “social media” AND “mental health” (Table1).

Keyword/Combination of KeywordDatabaseNumber of Results
“social media”Google Scholar877,000
“mental health”Google Scholar633,000
“social media” AND “mental health”Google Scholar78,000
“social networking” AND “mental health”Google Scholar18,600
"social networking "OR "social media" AND "mental health"Google Scholar17,000
Table1: Number of research articles for the searched keyword

Out of the results in Table1, a total of 50 articles relevant to the research question were selected. After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, duplicate papers were removed, and, finally, a total of 28 articles were selected for review (Figure2).

(Video) How does social media affect mental health?

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Peer-reviewed, full-text research papers from the past five years were included in the review. All selected articles were in English language and any non-peer-reviewed and duplicate papers were excluded from finally selected articles.


Of the 16 selected research papers, there were a research focus on adults, gender, and preadolescents[10-19]. In the design, there were qualitative and quantitative studies[15,16]. There were three systematic reviews and one thematic analysis that explored the better or worse of using social mediaamong adolescents[20-23].In addition, eight were cross-sectional studies and only three were longitudinal studies[24-29].The meta-analyses included studies published beyond the last five years in this population. Table2presents a selection of studies from the review.

AuthorTitle of StudyMethodFindings
Berryman et al.[10]Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young AdultsCross-sectionalSocial media use was not predictive of impaired mental health functioning.
Coyne et al.[11]Does Time Spent using Social Media Impact Mental Health?: An Eight Year Longitudinal Study8-year longitudinal studyIncreased time spent on social media was not associated with increased mental health issues across development when examined at the individual level.
Escobar-Viera et al.[12]For Better or for Worse? A Systematic Review of the Evidence on Social Media Use and Depression Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual MinoritiesSystematic Literature ReviewSocial media provides a space to disclose minority experiences and share ways to cope and get support; constant surveillance of one's social media profile can become a stressor, potentially leading to depression.
O’Reilly et al.[15]Potential of Social Media in Promoting Mental Health in Adolescentsqualitative studyAdolescents frequently utilize social media and the internet to seek information about mental health.
O’Reilly [16]Social Mediaand AdolescentMental Health: The Good, the Bad and the Uglyfocus groupsMuch of the negative rhetoric of social media was repeated by mental health practitioners, although there was some acknowledgement of potential benefit.
Feder et al.[17]Is There an Association Between Social Media Use and Mental Health? The Timing of Confounding Measurement MatterslongitudinalFrequent social media use report greater symptoms of psychopathology.
Rasmussen et al.[19]The Serially Mediated Relationship between Emerging Adults’ Social Media Use and Mental Well-BeingExploratory studySocial media use may be a risk factor for mental health struggles among emerging adults and that social media use may be an activity which emerging adults resort to when dealing with difficult emotions.
Keles et al.[19]A Systematic Review: The Influence of Social Media on Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress in Adolescentssystematic reviewFour domains of social media: time spent, activity, investment, and addiction. All domains correlated with depression, anxiety and psychological distress.
Nereim et al.[21]Social Media and Adolescent Mental Health: Who You Are and What You do MatterExploratoryPassive social media use (reading posts) is more strongly associated with depression than active use (making posts).
Mehmet et al.[22]Using Digital and Social Media for Health Promotion: A Social Marketing Approach for Addressing Co‐morbid Physical and Mental HealthInterventionSocial marketing digital media strategy as a health promotion methodology. The paper has provided a framework for implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of digital social media campaigns that can help consumers, carers, clinicians, and service planners address the challenges of rural health service delivery and the tyranny of distance,
Odgers and Jensen[23]Adolescent Mental Health in the Digital Age: Facts, Fears, and Future DirectionsReviewThe review highlights that most research to date has been correlational, has focused on adults versus adolescents, and has generated a mix of often conflicting small positive, negative, and null associations.
Twenge and Martin [24]Gender Differences in Associations between Digital Media Use and Psychological Well-Being: Evidence from Three Large DatasetsCross-sectionalFemales were found to be addicted to social media as compared with males.
Fardouly et al.[25]The Use ofSocialMedia by Australian Preadolescents and its Links with MentalHealthCross-sectionalUsers of YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat reported more body image concerns and eating pathology than non-users, but did not differ on depressive symptoms orsocialanxiety
Wartberg et al.[26]Internet Gaming Disorder and Problematic Social Media Use in a Representative Sample of German Adolescents: Prevalence Estimates, Comorbid Depressive Symptoms, and Related Psychosocial AspectsCross-sectionalBivariate logistic regression analyses showed that more depressive symptoms, lower interpersonal trust, and family functioning were statistically significantly associated with both IGD and PSMU.
Neira and Barber [28]Social Networking Site Use: Linked to Adolescents’ Social Self-Concept, Self-Esteem, and Depressed MoodCross-sectionalHigher investment in social media (e.g. active social media use) predicted adolescents’ depressive symptoms. No relationship was found between the frequency of social media use and depressed mood.
(Video) Is social media affecting your mental health?


This study has attempted to systematically analyze the existing literature on the effect of social media use on mental health. Although the results of the study were not completely consistent, this review found a general association between social media use and mental health issues. Although there is positive evidence for a link between social media and mental health, the opposite has been reported.

For example, a previous study found no relationship between the amount of time spent on social media and depression or between social media-related activities, such as the number of online friends and the number of “selfies”, and depression[29]. Similarly, Neira and Barber found that while higher investment in social media (e.g. active social media use) predicted adolescents’ depressive symptoms, no relationship was found between the frequency of social media use and depressed mood[28].

In the 16 studies, anxiety and depression were the most commonly measured outcome. The prominent risk factors for anxiety and depression emerging from this study comprised time spent, activity, and addiction to social media. In today's world, anxiety is one of the basic mental health problems. People liked and commented on their uploaded photos and videos. In today's age, everyone is immune to the social media context. Some teens experience anxiety from social media related to fear of loss, which causes teens to try to respond and check all their friends' messages and messages on a regular basis.

On the contrary, depression is one of the unintended significances of unnecessary use of social media. In detail, depression is limited not only to Facebooks but also to other social networking sites, which causes psychological problems. A new study found that individuals who are involved in social media, games, texts, mobile phones, etc. are more likely to experience depression.

(Video) How Social Media Addiction Destroys Your Brain

The previous study found a 70% increase in self-reported depressive symptoms among the group using social media. The other social media influence that causes depression is sexual fun[12]. The intimacy fun happens when social media promotes putting on a facade that highlights the fun and excitement but does not tell us much about where we are struggling in our daily lives at a deeper level[28]. Another study revealed that depression and time spent on Facebook by adolescents are positively correlated[22]. More importantly, symptoms of major depression have been found among the individuals who spent most of their time in online activities and performing image management on social networking sites[14].

Another study assessed gender differences in associations between social media use and mental health. Females were found to be more addicted to social media as compared with males[26]. Passive activity in social media use such as reading posts is more strongly associated with depression than doing active use like making posts[23]. Other important findings of this review suggest that other factors such as interpersonal trust and family functioning may have a greater influence on the symptoms of depression than the frequency of social media use[28,29].

Limitation and suggestion

The limitations and suggestions were identified by the evidence involved in the study and review process. Previously, 7 of the 16 studies were cross-sectional and slightly failed to determine the causal relationship between the variables of interest. Given the evidence from cross-sectional studies, it is not possible to conclude that the use of social networks causes mental health problems. Only three longitudinal studies examined the causal relationship between social media and mental health, which is hard to examine if the mental health problem appeared more pronounced in those who use social media more compared with those who use it less or do not use at all[19,20,24]. Next, despite the fact that the proposed relationship between social media and mental health is complex, a few studies investigated mediating factors that may contribute or exacerbate this relationship. Further investigations are required to clarify the underlying factors that help examine why social media has a negative impact on some peoples’ mental health, whereas it has no or positive effect on others’ mental health.

Social media is a new study that is rapidly growing and gaining popularity. Thus, there are many unexplored and unexpected constructive answers associated with it. Lately, studies have found that using social media platforms can have a detrimental effect on the psychological health of its users. However, the extent to which the use of social media impacts the public is yet to be determined. This systematic review has found that social media envy can affect the level of anxiety and depression in individuals. In addition, other potential causes of anxiety and depression have been identified, which require further exploration.

The importance of such findings is to facilitate further research on social media and mental health. In addition, the information obtained from this study can be helpful not only to medical professionals but also to social science research. The findings of this study suggest that potential causal factors from social media can be considered when cooperating with patients who have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Also, if the results from this study were used to explore more relationships with another construct, this could potentially enhance the findings to reduce anxiety and depression rates and prevent suicide rates from occurring.


How does social media connect to mental health? ›

Using social media more often, though, increases FOMO and feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, and isolation. In turn, these feelings negatively affect your mood and worsen symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.

How social media affects mental health literature review? ›

A new study found that individuals who are involved in social media, games, texts, mobile phones, etc. are more likely to experience depression. The previous study found a 70% increase in self-reported depressive symptoms among the group using social media.

How does social media affect mental health research question? ›

Most broadly, the researchers found a sizable increase in the number of students who reported mental distress at some time in the preceding year. College-wide access to Facebook led to an increase in severe depression by 7% and anxiety disorder by 20%.

What is the link between social media use and youth mental health? ›

Some studies have shown correlation between the mental health and well-being of adolescents and the amount of time they spend on social media. One meta-analysis of 12 different studies found depression correlated with time spent on social media, although weakly.

How social media affects our mental health essay? ›

However, social networking sites have a negative effect on teens mental health as frequent use of these sites causes mental disorders such depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation. Although social media has enhanced our connectivity, it is also causing a decline in social and communication skills.

How does social media affect mental health statistics 2022? ›

People ages 16 to 24 spend an average of three hours and one minute on social media daily, and research reported in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that adolescents who use social media more than three hours per day may have an increased risk of mental health problems.

How does social media affect mental health positively? ›

Here are several frequently-overlooked positive effects that social media can have on mental health: Actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts, and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in well-being.

What role does the media play in mental health? ›

Media plays a significant role in shaping people's beliefs as well as their attitudes. The negative portrayal of mental illness through media enforces negative attitudes and false beliefs about mental illness as well as a person with mental illness.

How social media Affects Mental Health conclusion? ›

Studies show that social media users have experienced harmful impacts on their psychological health, but the depth of harm social media platforms have caused is yet to be ascertained. This review has concluded that social media envy can cause depression and anxiety levels in people.

How many mental health issues are caused by social media? ›

Spending more than 3 hours on social media per day puts adolescents at a higher risk for mental health problems. 13% of kids ages 12-17 report depression and 32% report anxiety. 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds report mental illness. These age groups report high usage of social media.

What percentage of mental health is caused by social media? ›

The most common negative mental health impact of social media use is anxiety (64%). More than half of social media users who are adversely affected by apps report depression (56%), dissatisfaction with life (52%), fear of missing out (52%), and body image issues (51%).

What social media platform has the most effect on mental health? ›

Instagram was found to have the most negative overall effect on young people's mental health. The popular photo sharing app negatively impacts body image and sleep, increases bullying and “FOMO” (fear of missing out), and leads to greater feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

What are 5 negative effects of social media? ›

Social media harms

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use.

What are the possible question for social media addiction? ›

Those questions are: Salience: Is social media use heavily integrated into your daily routine? Tolerance: Do you find yourself spending progressively more time on social media to get the same satisfaction? Euphoria: Do you rely on social media as a source of excitement, or to cope with boredom or loneliness?

What is a good thesis statement for social media addiction? ›

The effects of having social networking addiction are decrease the productivity of work and negative physical effect on human. Addiction to social networks bring mankind to become lazy.

Is there a mental health questionnaire? ›

The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) is a diagnostic tool for mental health disorders used by health care professionals that is quick and easy for patients to complete.

What is the impact of social media in our society nowadays? ›

Social Media is relatively a newer technology, hence, it is a little difficult to establish its long-term good and bad consequences. However, multiple researchers have concluded a strong relationship between heavy use of social media platforms with an increase in risk of depression, self-harm, anxiety, and loneliness.

What are Negative Impact of social media? ›

Social media harms

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure.

What are the main causes of social media addiction? ›

Amongst the most widely-recognised causes of addiction to social media are low self-esteem, personal dissatisfaction, depression and hyperactivity, and even lack of affection, a deficiency that adolescents frequently try to replace with the famous likes.

How can we control social media addiction? ›

Delete apps, or disable notifications from social media: Most people check into social media mindlessly, so put a small barrier in the way by turning off notifications. If you don't see a social media icon or alert every time you pick up your phone, you're less likely to spend time there. Set limits and stick to them.

Does social media improve or hurt our society? ›

According to a Harvard study, routine social media use is positively associated with social wellbeing, self-rated health, and mental health. We just need to be mindful users and keep a healthy perspective about social media's role in our lives.

How social media affects mental health quotes? ›

“Be aware of and attentive to the time you spend as an online spectator. Social media will have you believing that your life is meaningless even though you're doing more than most people, offline.” “Live in the moment, not in the cloud.” “Facebook is to mental health, what fossil fuel is to climate health.”

Is social media addiction a mental health issue? ›

There's no such thing as an official diagnosis of “social media addiction.” But social media overuse is increasingly commonplace today, and it may have some serious repercussions to your physical and mental health. Learn how to identify problematic social media use and what you can do about it.

What is the best question for mental health? ›

Mental health questions
  • What is mental health? ...
  • What do I do if the support doesn't help? ...
  • Can you prevent mental health problems? ...
  • Are there cures for mental health problems? ...
  • What causes mental health problems? ...
  • What do I do if I'm worried about my mental health? ...
  • How do I know if I'm unwell?

Are online mental health assessments accurate? ›

Some clinically validated diagnostic tools are as reliable as medical tests such as imaging scans or blood work. Quizzes that turn mental health diagnoses into labels or personality traits are not reliable.


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