The Unseen Dangers: Exploring The Adverse Effects of Social Media On Our Lives

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, but at what cost? Read on to discover how it can negatively impact our mental health, personal communication skills, body image, and more.

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Social Media Addiction

How Social Media Can Harm Our Well-Being: A Comprehensive Review


As I wake up in the morning, my instinct is to reach for my phone and scroll through social media, checking notifications and catching up on the latest updates. I have to admit that I am glued to my phone & tablet so much that I forget the time and end up going to bed later than usual. I find myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, News, Tweets, etc., as the algorithm keeps feeding me content based on my likes, dislikes, habits, and interests.

Evidence shows that social media can have both positive and negative effects on our mental and physical health. It has become an integral part of our lives, offering us a platform to connect, share, and express ourselves. A lot of us have moved about in this world due to careers, homes, and interests but we still want to stay connected with our friends and family, and that's where social media shines the most.

As social media use continues to grow, concerns about its adverse effects on our mental health, personal communication skills, body image, and more have also increased.

There are plenty of potential benefits to using social media, such as increased social support, but there are also negative consequences, including social isolation, increased stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, eating disorders, social media addiction, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

When we use social media, we often get bombarded with the achievements of others. We see posts about anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, and other life milestones, which can sometimes lead us to feel that others are living more interesting and happier lives. For example, a colleague might post a picture from their vacation in Hawaii while we are at home attending work-from-home meetings. We might feel jealous because our best friend just shared a photo of their new SUV, and we're still paying off our beaten-down car. All of these are examples of social comparisons that we make on social media. We compare looks, wealth, intelligence, relationships, and success.

Because social media is so popular, it has become a vehicle for spreading lies, rumors, and fraud. People often create fake social media profiles, exaggerate truths, tell bald-faced lies, and spread rumors about other people and situations.

In this article, I will explore the darker side of social media and its impact on our well-being. I will examine the negative effects of social media on physical & mental health, personal communication skills, body image, and more, and refer to science journals and published research & media to support my analysis. I will also discuss the issue of politics, fake news, and the impact it can have on us & our society. By understanding the negative effects of social media, we can take steps to mitigate its impact on our lives and work towards creating a healthier relationship with technology.

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Social Media & Comparison

Every time we open our social media, we cannot compare ourselves with others. It's like an endless cycle of displacement and inadequacy. According to Festinger's (1954) social comparison theory, comparing oneself to others is a natural part of the human experience, but it can lead to serious problems. Over-comparison, where we compare ourselves to people who seem to be doing better than us, can lead to envy, jealousy, and low self-esteem. On the other hand, side-by-side comparisons or comparing yourself to your peers can be even more damaging. This is especially common among young men and women, who often feel pressured to live up to certain standards of beauty, success, and popularity. These constant comparisons can harm our mental health and well-being, causing anxiety, depression, and other problems.

Recently I published an article on “Ways To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others and Improve Self-Esteem’. In this article, I highlighted that we should not compare ourselves to others because everyone has a different starting point in life. I recommend you read that article for more details, strategies to manage this issue, and recommendations and book suggestions.

Privacy Concern

Social media can be a double-edged sword, offering both benefits and potential problems. It's easy to get excited about posting, commenting, and sharing information, but we often forget that it's available to everyone. This applies to people who do not have good intentions towards us. Expressing negative opinions about our employers or supervisors can be devastating, resulting in lost jobs and ruined careers. Even worse, our social media footprint can prevent us from getting the job we want, as companies now conduct social media checks to find out our opinions and interests before hiring. Our data protection management online may also affect our relationships with others. Imagine the frustration and anger when a partner reveals something about us that we didn't want anyone else to know. These problems are real and can have serious consequences. I remember when I was growing up, I was told that I should not talk to strangers but now we are sharing all our personal lives with the whole world who can use that information for their objectives.

Social Media and the Attention Economy

Social media platforms can easily grab our attention and keep us hooked for hours scrolling and viewing the content. We might not even realize it, but social media companies are in a constant battle to capture as much of our attention as possible because that gives them advertising revenue. The attention economy has turned our focus into a valuable commodity that social media platforms crave. Just because most if not all social media sites are free, doesn’t mean we are not paying for them. There is an old saying “If something on the internet is free, then you are the product”.

But what can be the potential issues of this economy? The truth is, the attention economy can have a detrimental impact on our mental health and well-being. Being constantly bombarded with message notifications can leave us feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus on important tasks. Surprisingly, time goes by so fast while we are trapped in the never-ending cycle of scrolling and checking, unable to break free.

To address this negative impact of the focus grab by social media, we need to take control back. We need to be aware of how much time we spend on these platforms and take steps to reduce our reliance on them. One way I do this is by silencing the notifications completely. The only important feature of the phone is to make & receive calls/texts. If you are in the online business or need to check social media, set up a time to check your notifications. Don’t let the device get your attention constantly and ruin your time management & health. Only use your mobile device if you need to pull information from it, not when the device is pushing content to you.

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Negative Impact on Mental Health

Research has shown that social media use can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. It's not surprising, considering the constant comparisons we make with others on social media.

We see perfectly curated images of people's lives, which can create an unrealistic and unattainable standard that we feel we need to live up to. Those perfect holiday pictures, images of food in a fine dining restaurant, amazing sculpted bodies, etc. It's like everyone else is living a dream life, while I'm stuck in reality. The pressure to achieve an idealized version of myself online is overwhelming and it affects the best of us, I am included.

It's easy to fall into the trap of seeking validation through likes, comments, and shares, creating an addictive cycle where we rely on social media for a dopamine hit.

When the validation doesn't come. The anxiety and stress of not receiving the desired validation can be unbearable. It's like our self-worth is tied to the number of likes and comments we receive. Some people co-relate this to their confidence and personality and this feeling of rejection can be heartbreaking and may have long-term effects.

This validation-seeking culture on social media is toxic, and it can create an addictive cycle where we rely on social media to identify our place in society, leading to increased anxiety and stress. Therefore, it's essential to be mindful of our social media use and seek help when needed. We sometimes need help to get out of it. I read self-help books and go for a long walks. Some people do yoga, meditation, etc. Whatever works is good, as long as it does not have an adverse effect.

Negative Impact on Physical Health

A study in the US found that using screens for more than one hour per day is linked to lower psychological well-being in children and adolescents. More screen time was associated with lower curiosity, self-control, emotional stability, difficulty making friends, distractibility, and inability to finish tasks. High users of screens (7+ hours per day) were more than twice as likely to have depression, anxiety, or receive treatment for a psychological or behavioral issue in the past year. The moderate use of screens (4 hours per day) was also linked to lower psychological well-being. The negative effects of screen time were more noticeable among teenagers.

iPhone (and possibly Android) have a tracking feature that tells you the time spent on the device and how much on various apps. I recommend you use that feature and when you see the actual number of hours on an everyday basis which is lost in an unproductive habit, it will start to hit you and will make you think.

Another study noticed that adolescents have been experiencing a change in sleep patterns over the years, with a decrease in total sleep time and an increase in sleep deprivation due to the use of mobile devices in bed. The use of screens, mobile phones, the internet, and social media have been linked to this change, as they delay sleep and melatonin secretion. Lack of sleep is associated with physical problems, changes in school performance, and mood disorders.

I too am a victim of this habit of keeping my phone next to my bed in the name of the alarm. I can always buy an alarm clock and leave the phone away but I am guilty of reading late-night news which is mostly the same as what I read the same evening and the morning. Yes, it does affect my sleep and hurt my eyes the next morning and then I work on the computer for another 9 hours during the day and sometimes at night. It may sound hypocritical when I am writing about bad habits caused by social media and then acknowledging being a victim myself. But it is a vicious cycle that will take time to correct and I have taken the first step of accepting it as a problem. Now I go for walks, gym, cook and stand on the balcony and have a coffee ☕. Anything to keep me away from unwanted focus grab.

Social Media, Politics, and Unfortunate Events

Social media has also significantly influenced politics and public opinion. It provides a platform for people to share their views and made it easier for people to participate in political debates. However, it also contributed to political polarization, making it difficult to find divergent views.

Social media has been used to spread false information and propaganda. This can further exacerbate political polarization and make it difficult for individuals to form educated opinions on political issues. Civil and respectful political debate and the search for different perspectives are also important but social media has been misused to play its role in spreading fake news and misinformation. The algorithms are designed to favor interesting and shareable content over accurate or factual content. The primary reason is, that sensationalism sells. This created fertile ground for the spread of fake news and propaganda.

If you remember, in 2018, there was a privacy scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica where a whistleblower from the analytics firm spilled the beans. The analytics firm was found to have obtained the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. The data was reportedly used to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and more. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress to testify about the issue, and the company made changes to its data privacy policies. This event raised concerns about Facebook's management of user data and led to a decrease in user trust and engagement. But to be honest, we all have forgotten about it and are back to old habits of sharing our lives online.

In another event in, 2021, a group of people who supported then-president Donald Trump tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election results by storming the U.S. Capitol building. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were used to organize and coordinate the riot, with some users sharing plans and encouraging others to participate. As a result, social media companies' content moderation policies and their responsibility in preventing the spread of misinformation and incitement to violence were questioned.

Another recent event where social media was used for fake news & conspiracy theories was during the Covid-19 pandemic. The fake news that gained traction was the belief that vaccines are harmful or even deadly. This theory has been thoroughly debunked by scientific research, but it continues to be promoted by anti-vaccine activists on social media. Now in Apr 2013, I still hear people talking about government involvement in vaccinating us and whether this will have economic or political consequences. Some even boast about not following safety guidelines like wearing masks or using sanitizer, let alone getting vaccinated. Now, some readers may have a different opinion than me but I am not trying to be a medical professional or influencer. Unless proven otherwise, I continue to follow the theory at large and not what's floating on social media. If we leave these deeper issues aside, I see in my family & friends group that they follow the advice about what to eat and what not and how to work out from Twitter and Facebook. Our generation is partly getting educated from social media and I have little hope about that.

Going back to the topic, the spread of conspiracy theories on social media can have serious consequences, particularly when it comes to public health. The belief that vaccines are harmful has led to a decrease in vaccination rates in some communities, which can result in outbreaks of preventable diseases. I will not convincing anyone but still suggest, getting information from a specialist and not social media.

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Increase in Cyberbullying

One of the most concerning issues is cyberbullying, which is becoming increasingly prevalent on social media platforms. It's scary to think that people can hide behind anonymous profiles and attack others without consequences. The impact of cyberbullying can be severe, leading to depression, anxiety, and even suicide in extreme cases. I remember the high-profile cases of Caroline Flack and Molly Russell, who both lost their lives after experiencing harassment and viewing harmful content on social media. It's heartbreaking to see how social media can contribute to such tragic events.

A recent study has revealed that approximately 88% of school shooters had at least one social media account, and 76% posted disturbing content of guns and threatening messages.

This is mostly seen in the US but lately, these events have started coming up in countries that never had such issues e.g. New Zealand, Canada, etc.

But cyberbullying is not the only concern. It's alarming to think that social media addiction may have contributed to these violent acts since it has no boundaries. The study also found that over 72% of shooters had at least one reported adverse childhood experience, and 60% reported being bullied in-person or online. It's a stark reminder of the potential dangers that social media can pose, especially to vulnerable individuals.

Overall, it's clear that social media has its benefits, and social media itself is not the issue, but we cannot ignore its potential negative impact on our mental and physical health, as well as its contribution to cyberbullying and violent behavior. Social media can be used in different ways but in this age of material economy full of comparison and chase for perfection, it is equally getting used for the undesirable purpose.

The Dangers of Online Predators and Sexual Harassment

Online predators are individuals who use social media to target vulnerable individuals, such as older, children, and adolescents. They use the anonymity provided by social media to gain the trust of their victims and then exploit them for their gain. This can include anything from soliciting inappropriate images to arranging meetings with the victim in person. Every day we hear about people getting scammed and losing their life savings. It's not surprising when vulnerable people get calls from Immigration, Tax Departments, and Utility companies and they end up paying their life savings or pension fund.

Sexual harassment is another serious issue that is prevalent on social media. It can take many forms, including unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate comments, and the sharing of explicit content. The anonymity provided by social media can make it easier for individuals to engage in this behavior without fear of consequences. They are a much bigger threat to younger people who do not have enough experience dealing with strangers and judging behavior.

Both online predators and sexual harassment can have serious consequences for their victims and can lead to long-term mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, and result in physical harm.

To address these issues, individuals need to be aware of the risks associated with social media use. I am a parent of a young child and I can agree that parents should monitor their children's social media use and educate them about the dangers of interacting with strangers online. The most important step is to talk to them and let them also express themselves. We should teach our kids to be cautious about the information they share online and should report any instances of sexual harassment or predatory behavior to the appropriate authorities. I know it's difficult these days when young kids compare themselves to the Tik-Tok, Facebook & YouTube content and want to replicate their success. But what they don't understand is that we are giving bad actors all the information they need to pick the most vulnerable.

Decrease in Personal Communication Skills

Another aspect of social media is it can hinder our face-to-face communication skills, leading to a decrease in our ability to communicate effectively in real-life situations. We sometimes believe that when we like our friend's posts and like their messages, we are still in touch but we forget, without in-person communication, we are losing the essence of the friendship which is based on emotions and not checkpoints & milestones. Social media can create a false sense of connection, where we feel connected to others without actually interacting with them in person.

Furthermore, lack of in-person communication has the downstream impact of not getting ahead in real life too e.g. promotions, getting sales, expanding business, etc. Social media platforms rely heavily on written communication, emojis, and abbreviations, which can lead to a lack of face-to-face communication skills.

Personal communication skills are essential for various aspects of life, including relationships, work, and personal growth. Therefore, it's important to balance our social media use with in-person communication to ensure we don't lose these valuable skills & connections.

Negative Impact on Body Image

I can't help but feel that social media has warped our perception of beauty and self-worth. Everywhere I look, I see pictures of perfectly toned bodies and flawless skin, making me question my appearance. And it's not just me - social media is bombarding young people with these unrealistic beauty standards, leaving them feeling inadequate and insecure. This can be particularly harmful to young people who are still developing their self-image and may feel pressured to conform to these standards.

The worst part is that these images are often edited and filtered, creating an unattainable standard that nobody can realistically achieve. It's a dangerous game, and it's playing with our mental health. We need to remind ourselves that we are unique and beautiful just the way we are, and we should never let social media make us feel any less.

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Social Media Algorithm

The adverse effects of algorithms on social media have become a growing concern in recent years. These algorithms are designed to show users content that is most likely to keep them engaged on the platform, but they can also result in information bias and influence users.

One example of this is the spread of fake news and misinformation. Social media algorithms are designed to show users content that is most likely to keep them engaged, which can lead to the spread of false information. This was evident during the 2016 US Presidential election, where fake news stories were shared widely on social media platforms. Another example is the creation of filter bubbles, where users are shown content that reinforces their existing beliefs and biases. This can lead to the polarization of society and the spread of extremist views. In most instances, many of the participants of riots are found to have been radicalized on social media platforms.

Even outside the riots, social media algorithms can also result in a lack of diversity in the content that users see. This can lead to a skewed perception of the world and limit users’ exposure to new ideas and perspectives. There was a time I was reading a lot about news on debt diplomacy and soon I found that my YouTube & Google content is focusing on this section of the news. Also, I noticed that the news was leaning towards one school of belief more than another. Another instance is, when I search & watch certain kinds of videos on YouTube, the algorithm keeps feeding me the same content and I get bored after some time. I need diverse content to keep informed but social media platforms are dictated by codes and combinations.

Also, the research found that the algorithmic bias on YouTube & other media content providers was found to promote and perpetuate stereotypes.

In the name of personalizing the content, they advertise based on user preferences and behavior, and also the influence of the big advertiser. This limits the options of the users and does not work in their favor.

In addition to algorithmic bias, social media can also influence its users' behavior through techniques such as persuasive design and social proof. Persuasive design involves manipulating the user experience to encourage certain behaviors or actions, such as increasing engagement with the platform. The social proof involves using cues such as likes, shares, and comments to signal popularity or credibility, which can influence users to adopt certain beliefs or behaviors. We all get a sense of trust when we see thousands of likes and comments. That firms our belief that it's the right content or product for us which may be false.


Fear of missing out (FOMO) can keep you returning to social media over and over again. Even though there are very few things that can’t wait or need an immediate response, FOMO will have you believing otherwise. Perhaps you’re worried that you’ll be left out of the conversation at school or work if you miss the latest news or gossip on social media. Or maybe you feel that your relationships will suffer if you don’t immediately like, share, or respond to other people’s posts. Or you could be worried you’ll miss out on an invitation or that other people are having a better time than you.

There has been recent hysteria about cryptocurrency investments and many people have made millions in a very short period. The exchanges and websites had plenty of money to throw on the advertisement and then YouTubers and content writers filled the internet with their success stories (real & fake). This may be true for some but due to FOMO, lots of people jumped in head first and lost their hard-earned money. We need to pay attention to these and make an informed decision instead of taking a knee-jerk reaction.


Q: Can social media be a positive influence on mental health?

A: Yes, social media can be a positive influence on mental health, particularly when used in moderation and with intention. Social media can provide a platform for social support, self-expression, and connection with others. However, it's important to be mindful of the potential negative impact on mental health and seek help when needed.

Q: How can I combat cyberbullying on social media?

A: If you experience cyberbullying on social media, it's essential to take action. You can report the abuse to the social media platform, block the person, and seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. It's also important to be aware of the potential for cyberbullying and take steps to prevent it, such as being mindful of what you post and avoiding engaging in negative comments or behaviors. It is very important that we talk about it and not suffer all alone.

Q: Is social media addiction a real thing?

A: Yes, social media addiction is a real thing and has been recognized by mental health professionals. It's important to be aware of the signs of social media addiction, such as spending excessive amounts of time on social media, feeling anxious or stressed when unable to access social media, and neglecting other aspects of daily life due to social media use.


Social media has become a ubiquitous part of our lives, offering us the opportunity to connect with others, express ourselves, and access information. However, as we've explored in this article, social media also has a darker side, with potential negative impacts on our mental health, personal communication skills, body image, and more.

To ensure that we use social media in a healthy and balanced way, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to minimize them. This can include setting limits on our social media use, seeking support when needed, and prioritizing in-person communication and self-care.

Social media is not inherently good or bad; it's how we use it that determines its impact on our lives. By being mindful and intentional in our social media use, we can harness its positive aspects while avoiding its negative consequences.

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Here are some books that offer valuable insights, advice, and practical tips on how to break free from the negative effects of social media and cultivate healthier relationships with technology.

Books links from -


  1. The Dark Side of Social Media. (2019).
  2. Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social media and fake news in the 2016 election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211-236.
  3. Bessi, A., & Ferrara, E. (2016). Social bots distort the 2016 US Presidential election online discussion. First Monday, 21(11).
  4. Lazer, D. M., Baum, M. A., Benkler, Y., Berinsky, A. J., Greenhill, K. M., Menczer, F., ... & Schudson, M. (2018). The science of fake news. Science, 359(6380), 1094-1096.
  5. Motta, M., Sylvester, S., & Callaghan, T. (2018). Should we stop talking about the anti-vaccination movement? Journal of Health Communication, 23(6), 545-549.

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