The Worst Social Media Platform For Mental Health

While social media can be a great tool for storytelling, sharing information, and staying in touch with friends, colleagues, and family, there’s no denying that there are negative effects. A previous study by Igor Pantic, MD, PhD on The National Center for Biotechnology Information chronicled the relationship between Facebook and a teenager’s self-esteem and depression, due to user’s narcissistic tendencies. According to the study:

One of the possible explanations regarding the negative relationship between Facebook and self-esteem is that all social networking platforms where self-presentation is the principal user activity cause or at least promote narcissistic behavior. A report by Mehdizadeh described the findings of a study in which 100 Facebook users at York University provided self-esteem and narcissistic personality self-reports. The results indicated that individuals with lower self-esteem are more active online in terms of having more self-promotional content on their SNS profiles. In other words, certain Facebook activities (such as “The Main Photo” feature) were negatively correlated with self-esteem measured with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.

On the other hand, some authors have presented results indicating that Facebook use may actually enhance self-esteem. A study by Gonzales and Hancock included groups of student participants exposed to three different settings: exposure to a mirror, exposure to one’s own Facebook profile, and a control setting. The level of self-esteem in all participants was estimated using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. The results showed the positive effects of Facebook on self-esteem supporting the so-called Hyperpersonal Model in which selective self-presentation positively impacts impressions of the self.

While Facebook was and still is the most popular social media platform in the world, newer millenials are taking advantage of other social media platforms; in turn, this leads to more and different complications. According to a new study from researchers from the Royal Society for Public Health in conjunction with the Young Health Movement, Instagram and Snapchat are “the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

In their video, entitled #StatusOfMind, while interviewers acknowledged social media’s uses, they almost unanimously agreed that social media has detrimental effects on mental health. Many comments included people creating a “fake lifestyle”, with users often curating content to the image they want to share about themselves.

Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement concluded that YouTube is the best social media platform for your mental health, perhaps because of its storytelling nature, focus on genuine self-expression, and often positive and uplifting content from regular contributors. The researchers also acknowledge that the most popular YouTube contributors often acknowledge and are sensitive to mental health issues. Oddly, Twitter ranked second in mental health, despite the plethora of negative Tweets that are being curated for sensitive topics, such as politics, religion, and current events. Instagram ranked last due to its focus on self-identity, lifestyle, and body image. Their studies find that seven out of ten Instagram users “made them feel worse” about their body image.

Medical students and professionals can and have used social media to tell their stories through these online channels. What is your experience on social media like? Take a look on our site for more stories about social media and mental health.

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Jed Belaguas

Jed Belaguas is a content marketer, amateur web developer and copywriter, well versed in writing blogs, press releases, and editorial articles. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Degree in Communications, and is well aware at how hard it is to make to and through medical school.