Cybersmiling: How Social Media can Help Mental Health

Is social media detrimental to mental health? For a long time, the public have believed that this is the case, but there are many aspects of social media and its advanced technology that our society has benefited from. In fact, the world as it is today would be dealt a massive blow in communication if all social media stopped functioning.

Like everything, social media can be good— great, even —in moderation, but can be dangerous if someone becomes too fixated on their social media image. But, if the right concerns are taken into account, sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can be extremely beneficial.

Social media is a double-edged sword that one must learn to wield properly.

Validation

The public consensus seems to be that social media has a negative effect on self esteem, particularly that of young girls, and this can oftentimes be the case. However, very few people take into account the massive amounts of positive comments that social media can bring with it.

We all want validation, and social media has made it more attainable than ever before. Nice comments on a social media post are essentially public compliments that come in more quickly and in larger amounts than would’ve been possible previously.

Some receive more of this kind of validation than others, of course, and some may value in-person compliments more, but it’s no doubt that compliments based on appearance have become much more attainable and even normalized as a result of social media.

An photo of a smartphone lying on a flat, wooden surface, with three speech bubbles with social media features.
Social media allows for many different kinds of validating interaction between users. This includes, but is not limited to likes, comments, and tagging other users in your posts.


In addition to what some might see as superficial compliments, it’s also easier to receive recognition for your accomplishments on social media platforms. 

People can now announce big milestones in their life to a widespread audience and receive widespread congratulations in return— college admissions, engagements, awards, pregnancies, job offers and so much more more! 

Good news has never been easier to deliver, and this often results in an exchange of appreciation that leaves all parties with a brightened day.

Crowdsourcing

Social media has also completely changed the way information can be shared, and it’s revolutionized the way crowds take action.

Promoting anything is much easier over social media. There’s a reason social media influencers are some of the wealthiest people in today’s world, as websites like Instagram or YouTube make wonderful advertising platforms for brands. But that’s not the only thing social media has been used to spread the word about.

Social media has facilitated the promotion of GoFundMe campaigns, resulting in a lot of successful efforts to raise funding for tuitions, medical bills, vacations, et cetera. Social media has definitely made a positive impact on those peoples’ lives.

In addition to crowdfunding, petitions are also far more easily shared with social media.

Many people are using their social media platforms to try and bring about change, linking change.org to promote signing petitions that support a variety of issues. Taking social media and using it to help make a difference is surely a good thing.

Connections

The biggest positive effect that social media has had on our society is increased communication across the globe. 

It’s now easier than ever before to reconnect with old friends you might never have been able to find a way to contact otherwise, as well as meet and talk to people from all around the world. It strengthens your existing friendships and allows you to make new ones.

With social media, you can find a community that you fit into no matter how niche your interests are. Social media allows an opportunity to find increased support for people who may really need it, and anonymity to those who don’t feel comfortable opening up about any struggles they may be facing to those in their real life.

An image of a woman under a blanket holding a smartphone in her hands, her face not visible.
Social media can provide comfort to those that feel alone. The internet allows connections to be made that would’ve been impossible in years past.


Many young, impressionable teens that grew up online turn to the internet for help with their problems. As long as they’re careful, they could make meaningful connections and friendships with real people instead of relying on a google search bar through social media sites. 

Social media may just be the perfect way for someone to realize that they’re not alone in whatever it is that they’re going through, and it could also be the push they need to get help or the motivation they need to help themself.

Social media provides an outlet for expression— emotional, creative, or otherwise.

What do we do?

The negative public perception of social media is hardly a baseless one, though it is perhaps a bit extreme.

Still, there are many issues with social media. Social media results in many to experience FOMO, or the fear of missing out, as they look at other peoples’ posts that seem to brag about the brilliant life they lead. This can result in many teens with social media to feel isolated, anxious, or depressed.

Social media can also be extremely detrimental to self esteem in both directions. While around 10% of teens have reported being cyberbullied, other young people become fixated on their social media image which can create an unhealthy, self-absorbed attitude.

Social media does, without a doubt, cause a lot of problems. However, it can solve a lot of problems, too. So, how do you ensure that your experience on social media is a positive one?

The best advice would be to keep your use of social media routine and impersonal— getting overly attached and obsessively checking your social media will only hurt you. The way you use social media matters more than the actual time you spend using it.

A close-up photo of a smartphone, showing Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as the only apps in focus.
Three of the most popular social media sites are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. They all have their own unique uses, and these days the overwhelming majority of people have an account on at least one of these sites, if not all three.


So, being mindful about how you use social media is the best way to ensure that you won’t be hurt by it, and instead will be helped. Especially during a time in the world when seeing people in person has become difficult if not completely impossible, social media could have a more positive impact than ever.

Yes, social media can be used to cause harm, but that’s not to say that the negatives outweigh the positives as so many believe. 

Social media has actually resulted in many positive changes being made in our society, and as it continues to evolve these developments in the right direction will no doubt continue as well.

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