Social media ≠ social life

Excessive time spent online can negatively effect student mental health

We live in a culture where it is normal to mindlessly scroll through social media feeds during times of idleness – like when we’re sitting on the toilet or waiting for toast to pop. Many of us already know that this habit does not support our overall health. In fact, there is research confirming that social media can trigger feelings of social isolation, be addictive and have a negative effect on mental health.

There is a distinguishable link between addiction to social media and mental health issues, according to a study conducted at McMaster University in 2016. This research also found that 48 per cent of university students could not control their use of social media, 29 per cent had difficulty controlling their use of instant messaging and 42 per cent were found to be dealing with mental health problems due to an overuse of the internet. These data suggest that students at Mt. A, who fall under the same age demographic, might have similar struggles with social media usage and its effects on health.

The same study by McMaster University found that the more time that students spent on social media sites, the more socially isolated they perceived themselves to be. This suggests that comparing yourself to others while scrolling through social media can deflate your mood and have a negative effect on your mental health.       

Third-year student Kiersten Mangold agrees with parts of the results of the McMaster study. She said that “social media is good in small doses” and noted that when she goes on her phone she mindlessly opens a social media feed like Instagram.

All of this being said, social media has value when it is used appropriately and in moderation – it keeps us connected over long distances, allows us to stay updated on events that happen in friends’ lives and helps us make new connections with individuals we may have never met otherwise. It is important to take breaks from staying connected; it may make you feel better.

Kathleen Morrison