Research exposes pitfalls of opening up on social media

September 12, 2018 by Mike Addelman, University of Manchester
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Opening up about your feelings on social media has an association with lower self-esteem, mood, paranoia and opinions about the self in comparison to others according to a new study.

Dr. Natalie Berry, a psychology researcher at the University of Manchester says venting our anger on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram is also linked to subsequent increases in , and reductions in self-esteem and .

The researcher, however, found no difference between how affects people with and without psychosis.

The Medical Research Council-funded study, the first to examine how specific behaviours on social media impact on mental well-being, also reported increases in paranoia after viewing profiles of 'non-friends' on social media.

It is published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

The study also found that general social media use was associated with later reductions in mood, as shown by higher scores for phrases such as "I feel down" and "I feel lonely" and lower scores for phases such as "I feel satisfied" and "I feel cheerful."

However, using social media is not all bad, says the researcher: direct communication such as retweeting or liking posts has no impact on mood, self-esteem or paranoia

And posting about daily activities was associated with subsequent improvements in mood and self-esteem

For the study, 44 people were assessed, receiving 6 alerts a day for 6 days: a total of 1084 assessments. Almost half of the sample experienced psychosis.

The texts asked them to complete questions on what they did on social media as well as their mood, self-esteem, paranoia, and feelings about themselves in comparison with other people.

Dr. Berry said: "This study pinpoints the specific behaviours that might determine whether or not social media use leads to a positive or negative outcome and shows that social media can be helpful but it can also be damaging depending on what you use it for.

"There seems to be no difference on how Social Media impacts on people with psychosis compared to people without psychosis. However, participants with psychosis showed lower scores for mood and self-esteem and higher scores for paranoia at the beginning of the study.

"Therefore, relative reductions in mood and and increases in paranoia after different social media behaviours may be particularly problematic for this group of people."

She added: "This means there may be implications on how we use technology to support mental health.

"One way to address the potential negative impact of social media use is for mental health professionals to be routinely asking about how their clients use social media in a clinical context

"And social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram could be used to reach out to people who are affected by content with a page on how users can get support."

Explore further: Sharing your #shopping on social media can damage your health and your wallet

More information: N. Berry et al. Social media and its relationship with mood, self-esteem and paranoia in psychosis, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (2018). DOI: 10.1111/acps.12953

Related Stories

Sharing your #shopping on social media can damage your health and your wallet

August 1, 2018
Posting images on social media when we buy new clothes, eat out or purchase the latest gadget may seem harmless enough. But this consumption-oriented sharing may be undermining both our bank balance and our mental well-being.

Facebook likes don't make you feel better

May 2, 2017
Receiving 'likes' on social media posts doesn't make people feel better about themselves or improve their mood if they are down.

How to deal with online mom-shaming

July 13, 2018
Many moms love to post on social media about fun family outings and their children's special moments and milestones. However, sometimes these posts can catch the unwanted attention of mom-shamers. A Baylor College of Medicine ...

Does social media depression in young people really exist?

February 6, 2018
The term 'Facebook depression' has been coined to explain the potentially negative impact of social media on young people. It describes the depressive symptoms which can occur when young people spend a great amount of time ...

Recommended for you

In depression the brain region for stress control is larger

September 20, 2018
Although depression is one of the leading psychiatric disorders in Germany, its cause remains unclear. A recent study at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig, Germany, found ...

Quitting junk food produces similar withdrawal-type symptoms as drug addiction

September 20, 2018
If you plan to try and quit junk food, expect to suffer similar withdrawal-type symptoms—at least during the initial week—like addicts experience when they attempt to quit using drugs.

American girls read and write better than boys

September 20, 2018
As early as the fourth grade, girls perform better than boys on standardized tests in reading and writing, and as they get older that achievement gap widens even more, according to research published by the American Psychological ...

Mindfulness meditation: 10 minutes a day improves cognitive function

September 19, 2018
Practising mindfulness meditation for 10 minutes a day improves concentration and the ability to keep information active in one's mind, a function known as "working memory". The brain achieves this by becoming more efficient, ...

People can handle the truth (more than you think)

September 19, 2018
Most people value the moral principle of honesty. At the same time, they frequently avoid being honest with people in their everyday lives. Who hasn't told a fib or half-truth to get through an awkward social situation or ...

The 'real you' is a myth – we constantly create false memories to achieve the identity we want

September 19, 2018
We all want other people to "get us" and appreciate us for who we really are. In striving to achieve such relationships, we typically assume that there is a "real me". But how do we actually know who we are? It may seem simple ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.