The Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health

In today's digital age, social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives, especially for the younger generation.  While these platforms offer various benefits such as staying connected with friends and accessing information, they also come with a set of challenges, particularly when it comes to the mental health of youths and digital addiction.  Below are ways in which social media can impact the mental well-being of young people.


  1. Comparison and Self-esteem

One of the most significant ways in which social media affects youth mental health is by fostering a culture of comparison.  Platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok often showcase curated, idealized versions of people's lives.  When young individuals constantly see their peers seemingly leading perfect lives, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.  This constant comparison can be detrimental to mental health, causing anxiety and depression.

  1. Cyberbullying and Suicide

Social media provides a platform for both positive and negative interactions.  Unfortunately, cyberbullying has become a prevalent issue among young people.  Harassment, name-calling, and online threats can take a toll on a youth's mental health.  Victims of cyberbullying may experience anxiety, depression, and even contemplate self-harm or suicide as a result of the relentless harassment they face online.  Unfortunately suicides among adolescents and young adults are up significantly over the past twenty years, which coincides with the rise of social media platforms.   While there are a multitude of factors that contribute to this statistic, many experts agree that social media use likely plays a role.

  1. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

The fear of missing out is a phenomenon exacerbated by social media.  Young people often see their peers enjoying exciting activities and events on their feeds, leading them to feel left out or less popular.  This feeling of missing out on experiences can contribute to anxiety and a sense of isolation and loneliness. 

  1. Validation and Self-worth

The quest for likes, comments, and shares on social media can become an obsession for some young individuals.  The number of likes a post receives can start to define their self-worth.  When they don't receive the expected validation, it can lead to feelings of rejection and sadness, affecting their overall mental health.

  1. Reduced Face-to-Face Interaction

There is a false promise that social media leaves us more interconnected but in actuality it can leave people feeling more alone.  Spending excessive amounts of time on social media can lead to reduced face-to-face interactions.  Building meaningful relationships and developing essential social skills may become challenging for young people who spend more time in the digital world than the real one, potentially leading to loneliness and isolation.

  1. Addiction, Brain Development and Sleep Disturbances

Social media can be highly addictive, leading to excessive screen time, even during late hours.  Social media use is addictive due to the enormous amount of dopamine that is released while using digital platforms as a result of the stimulation and excitement that they bring.  Furthermore, the human brain continues to develop into young adulthood and social media can alter the brain chemistry of adolescents and subsequently impact the brains development.  Social media use and social media addiction can also disrupt sleep patterns, leading to sleep deprivation, which is known to have a negative impact on mental health.

While social media offers many advantages, it is crucial to recognize its potential negative impact on the mental health of young people and the potential of a social media addiction to develop.  Parents, educators, and policymakers should work together to educate adolescents about the responsible use of social media, the importance of setting boundaries, and the need to seek help if they experience mental health issues related to their online activities. Additionally, social media platforms themselves can play a role in creating a safer and more supportive online environment for all users, especially young individuals.  Ultimately, striking a balance between digital life and real-world interactions is essential to safeguard the mental health of our youth in the age of social media.

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to read more on social media addiction, please read “The Ultimate Guide To Social Media Addiction.”

For more information on social media addiction and recovery please read Family Addiction Specialist’s Digital Addiction and Gaming Recovery service page.

For more information on addiction treatment for various forms of addiction such as video game addiction treatment, alcohol addiction treatment, drug addiction treatment, day trading addiction treatment, cryptocurrency addiction treatment, and other forms of addiction treatment, and to find the best addiction counselor near me, or for general therapy and mental health counseling, or to inquire about Family Addiction Specialist’s private concierge sober coach services, recovery coach services, sober companion services, addiction therapy services and/or teletherapy services (online therapy or virtual therapy) for drug addiction, alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, shopping addiction, day trading addiction, cryptocurrency addiction, video game addiction or other forms of digital addiction and technology addiction please contact Family Addiction Specialist’s undisclosed private office in the Upper East Side of New York City today at  Family Addiction Specialist serves clients in Manhattan and the surrounding NYC area, as well as concierge services with select clients worldwide.


Lin Sternlicht & Aaron Sternlicht

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