Impact of SNS Use on Mental Health

November 30, 2023

Impact of SNS Use on Mental Health

Social Networking Services (SNS) have transformed our world. Thanks to SNS, we are able to connect with more people and obtain more information. However, it did bring certain side effects, with phenomena such as 'SNS addiction' emerging. Does excessive use of SNS genuinely harm our mental health? In 2019, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry investigated the effect of SNS use on the mental health of adolescents. Let's take a closer look.

Firstly, a total of 6,595 teenagers aged 12-15 were observed from 2013 to 2016. Mental health was analyzed from two main aspects:

-Internalizing problems: These refer to coping with stresses and conflicts by keeping them inside oneself, which can manifest as depression or anxiety.

  • Externalizing problems: These refer to expressing conflicts and stresses externally as aggression. This can result in behavior problems, impulsivity, and hostility.

The research results were as follows:

Compared to those who did not use SNS, those who used it more than 3 hours a day were more likely to:

  • Experience internalizing problems.
  • Experience both internalizing and externalizing problems.
  • However, there was no significant difference in the likelihood of experiencing externalizing problems alone.

Excessive use of SNS primarily induces internalizing problems. The reasons why SNS contributes to these problems are:

  • Excessive use of SNS can diminish sleep quality, leading to internalization issues.
  • Frequent SNS use increases the chance of experiencing 'internet distress,' which is strongly correlated with depression symptoms.
  • SNS intensifies comparisons with others, fostering a negative self-image that can cause internalization issues.
  • Excessive use of SNS can impair self-regulation abilities and reduce social interactions contributing to depression and anxiety.

Although this study focuses on teenagers, other research indicates that excessive SNS usage also causes problems in adults. If you find yourself feeling listless while using SNS and blaming yourself while comparing with others, it could be helpful to close SNS and venture out into the real world. The actual world is bound to differ considerably from the world on the screen.


Riehm KE, Feder KA, Tormohlen KN, Crum RM, Young AS, Green KM, Pacek LR, La Flair LN, Mojtabai R. Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among US Youth. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Dec 1;76(12):1266-1273. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2325. PMID: 31509167; PMCID: PMC6739732.

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