#Anxiety: How does social media affect mental health?

The effects of social media on Gen Z’s mental health

Key takeaways:

  • 59% of Gen Zers admit they’re addicted to social media, with excessive use having impacted their productivity (58%), social skills (57%), and romantic relationships (43%).
  • 43% have experienced cyberbullying or harassment while using online platforms.
  • Excessive use and negative experiences can heavily affect young people's mental health, with 46% experiencing stress or anxiety, 36% dealing with depression, and 41% facing low self-esteem.
  • 26% of Gen Z have sought help to address their social media-induced anxiety and stress. 17% and 16% have turned to professionals to help them deal with loneliness and self-esteem issues caused by social media.

What's the first thing you do when you wake up? Reach for your phone, check your notifications, and start scrolling. Social media addiction is real—and if we’re not wasting hours watching reel after reel, we’re busy comparing our lives to those we follow.

Is social media bad for mental health? There’s no doubt. EduBirdie surveyed 2000 Generation Zers on their use of social media and mental health struggles. From low confidence to anxiety and depression, the results show that spending too long online can put a real strain on your well-being, relationships, and productivity. 

Social media: Gen Z’s greatest addiction

59% of gen z admit they're addicted to social media

Scrolling through your timeline might seem like a harmless pastime, but social media is designed to keep you hooked. It’s no wonder 59% of Gen Zers admit they’re addicted. One video leads to another and, before you know it, it’s 4 AM and you only have a few hours left to sleep.

58% of gen z say social media harms their productivity

Social media’s steady stream of notifications means you're constantly picking up your phone and getting lost in an endless reel of content. Unsurprisingly, 58% of Gen Zers admit it harms their productivity—one of the many negative effects of social media.

Connecting online, disconnecting offline

65% of gen z commpunicate online more than in person

Why do anything face-to-face if you can send a message? Given the efficiency that digital communication offers, 65% of Gen Zers admit they communicate more online than they do in person.

57% of gen z say social media has made it harder for them to socialize in person

But that convenience comes at a cost. We’ve grown used to being able to overthink every word and leave messages on read that for 57% of Gen Zers, socializing in person has become more difficult as a result.

53% of ge z have close friends they haven't met offline

Despite all the negative impacts of social media, it has also provided a platform to form relationships that would otherwise be impossible—53% of Gen Zers have close friends that they have never met in person.

39% of gen z believe using social media makes it harder to form meaningful connections

But how strong are those connections? There’s more to friendship than exchanging memes and the occasional like. While the average Gen Z has tons of friends online, 39% admit social media has made it harder to form deep and meaningful connections.

What can social media cause? Bust-ups and breakups

42% of gen zers have fallen in love with someone they met online but never in person

From dating apps to DMs, the internet has expanded the dating scene. Enabling us to get to know people regardless of distance, 42% of Gen Zers admit they have fallen in love with someone they met online—despite never meeting them face-to-face.

43% of gen zers have experienced relationship issues due to social media addiction

When it comes to dating and social media, issues are almost certain to arise. Often getting in the way of couples spending quality time together, 15% of Gen Zers have suffered a breakup as a result of excessive scrolling, while 28% have had arguments.

51% pf gen z feel that seeing couples on social media have made their dating expectations unrealistic

If you spend long enough online, you’ll soon notice how everyone has a seemingly perfect partner. For 51% of people, seeing couples on social media has made their dating expectations unrealistic. However, real life isn’t edited or filtered. Away from the cameras, the couples you envy face the same struggles we all do.

44% of gen z say oversharing on social media has caused them relationship issues

For many, the problem isn’t how long their partner spends online, but their pursuit of social media stardom. Behind a camera, it’s easy to overshare. But while your engagement may grow, your relationship will likely suffer. Some 31% of couples admit they have argued due to a partner oversharing on social media, causing 13% to call it quits.

The bad side of social media: Effects on mental health

43% of gen z have experienced harassment or cyberbullying

The anonymity of being online provides the perfect hiding spot for those who get a kick out of bringing others down, with 43% of Gen Zers having experienced cyberbullying.

46% of gen zers suffer from stress caused by social media

Without a doubt, social media is bad for mental health. Some 41% of Gen Zers admit to suffering from low self-esteem, for instance. And does social media cause anxiety? You bet—It’s a side effect 46% of young people have experienced, while 35% admit to feeling lonely and isolated.

Social media and depression also go hand in hand, with 36% having felt down after browsing online. Why does social media cause depression? It’s likely a combination of comparing yourself to others and feeling like you’re missing out, and the fact algorithms tend to amplify the bad in the world—but it earns more views, clicks, and revenue. We might love it, but there’s no denying social media is toxic.

46% of gen z have felt down about their lifestyle

But it doesn't take a cyberbully for social media to get us done. Often, all it takes is scrolling across the wrong post. Some 46% of Gen Zers have felt down about their lifestyle or financial status after browsing online, while 38% have struggled after comparing their career to others.

For 40%, browsing online causes them to worry about their body image, while 35% have felt down after comparing their relationship to others.

Digital detox: Dealing with social media’s mental health impact

81% of gen z have reduced their social media use

If social media is getting you down, a digital detox could do you a world of good. Some 81% have reduced their social media use over mental health concerns in the past. However, sometimes the addiction is just too strong, with 22% having struggled to stay logged out.

1 in 7 gen z have sought professional help for social media addiction

Is social media affecting your mental health? Perhaps it's best to seek professional support. With 26% of Gen Zers having sought help for online-induced stress and anxiety, 13% for social media addiction, and 17% for isolation, you’re not alone—Social media is a struggle that millions are dealing with.

Methodology: To create this study, researchers from EduBirdie surveyed 2,000 people in the Generation Z demographic. Participants were invited to share their experiences at random with no focus on particular genders, ethnicities, or social backgrounds.

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