The Two Faces of Social Media


  • Marija Lukic McMaster University


This article explores the debate of whether social media is good or bad for mental health. Using social networking sites has often been associated with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Social media can promote downward social comparisons, erode real-life relationships, and makes an ideal forum for bullying. On the other hand, social media can also be a positive tool for identity construction, a way to strengthen offline friendships, and even a place to find a community of like-minded people providing support for mental health challenges. In the end, how social media affects mental health depends on the specifics of what you do online.


Baker, D.A., & Algorta, G.P. (2016). The relationship between online social networking and depression: A systematic review of quantitative studies. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19 (11), 638-648.

Chen, Y., Mark, G., & Ali, S. (2016). Promoting positive affect through smartphone photography. Psychology of well-being, 6 (1).

Guest, E. (2016). Photo editing: Enhancing social media images to reflect appearance ideals. Journal of Aesthetic Nursing, 5 (9), 444-446.

Howard, K. (2015). Materials from British Sociological Association conference proceedings.

Larsson, E. (2016). Promoting social activities and participation among seniors: exploring and evaluating social and Internet-based occupational therapy interventions. Doctoral Dissertation. Accessed from:

Lin, L.Y., Sidani, J.E., Shensa, A., Radovic, A., Miller, E., Colditz, J.B., Hoffman, B.L., Giles, L.M., & Primack, B.A. (2016). Association between social media use and depression among U.S. young adults. Depression and anxiety, 33, 323-331.

Morin-Major, J.K., Marin, M.F., Durand, N., Wan, N., Juster, R.P., & Lupien, S.J. (2016). Facebook behaviors associated with diurnal cortisol in adolescents: is befriending stressful? Psychoneuroendocrinology, 63, 238-246.

Pantic, Igor. (2014). Social Networking and Mental Health. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking, 17 (10), 652-657.

Primack, B.A., Shensa, A., Sidani, J.E., Whaite, E.O. Lin, L.Y., Rosen, D., Colditz, J.B., Radovic, A., & Miller, E. (2017). Social media use and perceived social isolation among young adults in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Rosenthal, S.R., Buka, S.L., Marshall, B.D.L., Carey, K.B, & Clark, M.A. (2016). Negative experiences on Facebook and depressive symptoms among young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59 (5), 510-516.

Sidani, J.E., Shensa, A., Hoffman, B., Hanmer, J., & Primack, B.A. (2016).The Association between social media use and eating concerns among US young adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116 (9), 1465-1472.






Advanced Topics