A group of teenagers sit outside and use their phones.
Behavioral Health

How Social Media Impacts Our Health

In today's digital age, social media has become an integral part of our lives, shaping how we connect, communicate, and access information. These apps offer a variety of benefits and can have both positive and negative impacts on our health.

Whether you enjoy browsing content or are monitoring your family’s screen time, it’s essential to understand all the ways social media can affect us. 

Social Connection

Like its name suggests, social media allows us to communicate with family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers. Being online helps us stay up to date on major life milestones and celebrate each other’s successes. For those who live far away from loved ones, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat help us feel closer together. This sense of community makes us happier and more engaged. 

Close up of a man's eye as he scrolls through social media.

Information on Demand

Today, breaking news is delivered instantly. Phone and computer notifications show us how the world is changing in real-time. While access to instant information helps us stay safe and informed, it can also negatively affect our mental health. “Doom scrolling,” or binging content about distressing news, can lead to increased feelings of anxiety. When troubling events unfold, seeking more information is important. Just remember to take breaks if you feel overwhelmed. 

Goals and Aspirations

Social media is a great place to discover new trends, hobbies, and ideas. We’re able to see how others live, work, and spend their free time, which can inspire us to alter our own behaviors.

However, the rise of the influencer industry means many people now showcase their lives to help sell products or services. Because of this, it’s important to remember that not everything you see is reality. Still, if feelings of jealousy arise, take breaks and remember to appreciate the positives in your own life. 

Body Image

The popularity of photo-based platforms means we’re constantly exposed to toxic or unobtainable beauty standards. For young women in particular, body dissatisfaction is a growing effect of social media use. As parents, it’s essential to have open conversations with our kids about what they’re seeing. Remind them that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that health and beauty go far beyond their weight, height, and other external features. 


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a recurring problem was the spread of false information across social media. Lies about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, for example, dissuaded many people from protecting themselves against the virus. This led to deaths that could have been prevented.

Thankfully, misinformation can be combatted. Whenever you turn to social media for health information, always ensure the source is credible and seek additional proof. Advise your loved ones to do the same, and report content you suspect may be harmful or dishonest. 

Two young women pose for a selfie.


When you post on social media, it’s natural to fixate on how many likes or comments you receive. This is all by design. When we get attention and recognition from online peers, our brains release a chemical called dopamine as a reward, making us feel happy. It’s the same process that occurs when we eat food or work out and is designed to motivate beneficial behavior. By getting these feeling of happiness through social media, we’re incentivized to spend more of our time there, rather than seeking real-world satisfaction. 

To maintain a healthy balance, try to avoid stressing about online validation. If that doesn’t work, take a break from posting altogether. Instead, prioritize hobbies or healthy habits that bring you joy.  

Your Source for Reliable Information

At AltaMed, we recognize that social media has a real and lasting effect on our health. We advocate for responsible online behavior and encourage our community members to use social media as a tool for education, support, and positive change. If you or a loved one are struggling with the negative impacts of social media use, our Behavioral Health team can help. 

Call us at (855) 425-1777 to get started.

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How Social Media Impacts Our Health