Key Research

Social Media and Mental Health

Key Takeaways:

  • Roll-out of Facebook at colleges increased symptoms of poor mental health, especially depression; depression was seen to increase by 24% after introduction
  • For students most susceptible to mental illness, the introduction of Facebook led to increased use of mental healthcare services
  • Academic performance suffered  from poor mental health
  • Unfavorable social comparisons was the mechanism on FaceBook that caused the largest issues


LiveMore ScreenLess’s Summary

This study examines the impact of social media on mental health by studying the staggered introduction of Facebook across U.S. colleges, and comparing mental health outcomes and services requested during this time. It was found that FB negatively affected people’s mental health, especially with people susceptible to mental health challenges. 

The reason why Facebook had such an effect is in unfavorable social comparisons. Two main pieces of evidence bear on this conclusion. First, students might compare themselves unfavorably to their peers, such as students who live off-campus and miss on-campus activities; students of lower socioeconomic status; and students not belonging to fraternities/sororities. Second, it was shown how the introduction of Facebook directly affected the students’ beliefs about their peers’ social lives and behaviors.

This study also shows that Facebook has negative downstream repercussions on academic performance.

Topics: Mental Health

Year: 2022

Data Collection: Facebook was introduced at 775 U.S. colleges; seventeen consecutive waves of the National College Health Assessment