Balancing the Social Benefits and Mental Health Risks of Social Media Use

By Mia Hunter, SBHA Youth Advisory Council member

The following reflects Mia’s lived experiences, thoughts, and opinions.

When surveying teens’ interaction with social media, my peer recorded that a majority of his surveyed group at my high school found the impact of stress imposed by social media to be paramount to the stress of their schoolwork. While my high school is not indicative of the entire United States or the entire world’s teens, I am sure many teens can agree with the former sentiment. As a teenager experiencing this phenomenon myself, I feel that what makes social media so alluring despite its drawbacks is its ability to actualize and strengthen personal identity, whether you seek a community of people who adhere to the “clean girl aesthetic” or a community who shares your passion for grassroots organizing, you can find it in social media. These clashing dualities make navigating social media safely difficult for adults and teens alike. Thus, it is important to outline a framework for teens to approach social media engagement. 

The explosion of social media use makes social media impossible to ignore; the University of Maine claims that “4.8 billion people” use social media worldwide. Accordingly, it is important to propose a solution to the detriments of social media. A two-pronged solution that encourages teens to use social media positively and highlights the importance of limiting over-use would be most effective. 

Prong 1: Make Social Media work for you

  • Find the Good Vibes:
    • What do you love about social media? Is it connecting with friends, learning cool stuff, or showing your creativity? Think about the good stuff!
  • Trim the Excess:
    • No more mindless scrolling! Set some goals for your social media time and unfollow those accounts that make you feel meh.
  • Time for Boundaries:
    • Time Limits or App Limits: Your phone has these cool features. Use them! Avoid social media during important events or late at night.

This part of our solution relates specifically to teens’ safe use of social media and their role in creating a positive digital habitat for themselves. The second prong, however, is more specific to the noted impacts of social media use on mental and physical health. On the subject, researchers Twenge, Joiner, and Martin found that “48 percent of teens who spend five hours per day on an electronic device have at least one suicide risk factor.” This former research underscores the need for a second facet of the solution that provides students with the tools to approach how mental crises can arise concerning social media use. 

Prong 2: Social Media & Health

  • Face the Facts:
    • Researchers find that spending extended periods on electronic devices can adversely affect our health. It’s real. Be aware.
  • Mind Your Mental Health:
    • Learn about how social media can affect your mental health. Recognize the signs of trouble in yourself and your squad.
      • Increased feelings of anxiety, depression, or hopelessness in connection to social media use? Seek guidance and support from family and professionals. 
  • Emergency Toolkit:
    • Helplines: Save those numbers in your phone.
    • Mental Health Support: Check out what your school or local community SBHC offers. Sometimes, we need pros, and that’s okay.

The pervasive influence of social media on teen well-being cannot be ignored, as evidenced by the survey findings and the widespread use of these platforms globally. Acknowledging the dual nature of social media—both a source of stress and a means of identity actualization—it becomes important to propose a realistic solution. The two-pronged framework aims to guide teens safely and positively navigating social media. As a teenager navigating the world of social media, I hope the proposed framework serves as a guiding tool for my peers and all teens seeking a healthier and more mindful relationship with the digital world. 


Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates among U.S. Adolescents after 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3–17.

University of Maine. (2021, September 2). Social media statistics details. Undiscovered Maine; University of Maine.