Tips for Healthy Social Media Habits and Mental Health

Charlotte Petonic Robbins

about the AUTHOR

Charlotte Petonic Robbins is the assistant director of student health promotion at The University of Alabama and is a Certified Health Education Specialist.

In recent years, the rise of social media platforms has transformed how we connect with others, share information and express ourselves. While these digital spaces have enriched our lives and increased our connection to others, our social media usage can also negatively affect our mental health.

Despite its positive attributes, social media use comes with challenges, particularly related to our mental health. The constant exposure to carefully curated, idealized representations of others’ lives can lead to social comparison and feelings of inadequacy. The addictive nature of these platforms, driven by algorithms designed to maximize user engagement, can contribute to excessive screen time, disrupted sleep patterns and diminished real-world interactions — factors that are known contributors to mental health issues.

The pressure to maintain a flawless online persona may also contribute to heightened anxiety and stress levels. Cyberbullying, a prevalent issue on social media, further compounds these challenges, exposing individuals to harassment and potentially exacerbating pre-existing mental health conditions. The curated nature of social media content often masks the reality behind the scenes, creating a distorted perception of what constitutes a “normal” or “successful” life.

  • Spending more time on social media than with friends.
  • Comparing yourself to others.
  • Experiencing cyberbullying.
  • Being distracted from your responsibilities.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors to gain likes, views or comments.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Increases in anxiety and depression.

If any of the above applies to you, consider these helpful tips for managing social media usage:

  • Use an app to track your time spent on each app.
  • Automatically set your phone to turn on focus or do not disturb mode at certain times of              the day.
  • Do not bring your phone or tablet to bed, leave your devices on a desk or table away from your bed.
  • Remove social media apps from your phone.
  • Sign in and out of social media apps each time you use them.
  • Disable social media push notifications.

If you need support evaluating your social media usage, students can reach out to the Counseling Center at 205-348-3863, and employees may use the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with ComPsych.

This story is part of the Mental Well-being series, which features tips and insights on issues related to mental health from experts at The University of Alabama.