Is social media a positive or negative influence on overall mental health? The jury is out.

Today, nearly everyone uses social media. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are the most popular. Increasingly, we use them to entertain or distract ourselves and to stay connected to friends and family. Young people use social media to connect with their real-life and virtual communities.

A graphic showing recent lingo definitions

Social media can provide a distorted view of reality.

When you see photos and posts that seem to paint a picture of “perfect people” living “perfect lives,” it may be hard to feel like you’re measuring up. Remember: What you see on social media isn’t always true, nor is it always as it appears.

Here are some tips to protect your mental health while posting and scrolling:

  • Take a time out Track how many hours you spend on social media. If you’re spending more time on Facebook than face-to-face time with people, give yourself a time out.
  • Less is more The American Psychological Association recently reported that reducing social media use by 50% for a few weeks made a big difference with teens and young adults. They saw significant improvement in how they felt about both their weight and their overall appearance compared with peers who maintained consistent levels of social media use.4
  • FOMO has got to go It is important to remember (and reinforce often) that everyone has highs and lows in life, just like you. Many only post selfies when they seem happy and carefree.
  • Be mindful Be conscious of what you’re doing. Set boundaries. Don’t watch TikTok videos when you should be sleeping. Put your smartphone away when you’re talking with friends.

With a little guidance and help, you can start to wean yourself off those puppy memes—and get a good night’s sleep.

Find my therapist

At some point, we all have struggles with our mental health. Learn to recognize what mental health distress looks like in others.

Published June 26, 2024


This portion of the Teladoc Health website occasionally offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Teladoc Health cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical- or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.